Photo Comparison: BMW i8 vs. Audi R8

BMW i, Featured Posts | July 30th, 2011 by 50
bmw i8 audi r8 750x500

Before the flaming war starts, allow us to set the context for this BMWBLOG photo comparison. First and foremost, we are the first to state …

Before the flaming war starts, allow us to set the context for this BMWBLOG photo comparison. First and foremost, we are the first to state that the following comparison is not only unusual, but somewhat …unfair. The two supercars are fundamentally built on different strategies and core values. While BMW is betting its future on sustainability and efficient mobility, Audi continues to produce supercars that turn heads and attract new customers to the brand.

Second, the technology used in the BMW i8 and Audi R8 is entirely different, from engine to chassis and drivetrain.

So what do the two cars have in common? The design. This is the common ground since both cars are and will be seen as two super sporty vehicles that cater to those looking for extravagant rides at exotic prices.

bmw i8 audi r8 655x165

bmw i8 audi r8 photo 655x163

Through the use of CFRP, the “layering” design principle, with which shapes take on clear functions, adopts a completely new form of expression in the new BMW i8. Due to its exceptional characteristics, CFRP is in itself robust and can be shaped into self-supporting structures. BMW i8 introduces for the first time “layered surfacing”, both in interior and exterior design. BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk says “layered surfacing” creates a more cohesive and harmonious appearance while also optimizing air flow.

The layering design creates a visual lightness, along with physical lightness, in order to get sporty car performance with very little fuel consumption. Layering is a way of placing things over each other which translates into use of less parts.

As the first mid-engine sports car of the Audi brand, the R8 interprets Audi’s design in a new, extreme form: the R8 emerges as a formal statement of sheer dynamism. “Our aim was to create a powerful sports car – but with an exceptional quality of elegance,” remarked Walter de’Silva, Head of Design of the Audi brand group. The design of the R8 makes use of concave and convex surfaces that describe a muscular body. By use of flow lines and surfaces, Audi’s designer adopted the “philosophy of light”.

When it comes to power, the two high-end premium cars are far from even being classified as “third degree cousins”. The base 4.2 R8 has a 420 horsepower high-revving V8 engine and all-wheel-drive. It uses the mid-engine Lamborghini Gallardo platform. Furthermore, the Audi R8 5.2 uses a V10 naturally-aspirated engine, still rear-engine/all-wheel-drive with 518 horsepower.

The Audi R8 was not built with the MPG numbers in mind, and that’s exactly what you would expect from a car that has performance in mind rather than money savings. At 14-15 mpg fuel average, the R8 is in-line with other supercars from Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin or Maserati.

The BMW i8 makes use of an innovative drivetrain, a plug-in hybrid solution that brings together a combustion engine and an electric drive system. Its innovative plug-in hybrid concept combines the modified electric drive system from the BMW i3 Concept – fitted over its front axle – with a high-performance three- cylinder combustion engine producing 164 kW (220 hp)/300 Nm (221 lb-ft) at the rear. The electric motor in the BMW i8 Concept is a full-capability unit which can also power the car on its own.

At 349 horsepower and nearly 80 mpg fuel consumption, the BMW i8 runs a 0-62mph in just 4.6 sec – 0.3 sec faster than the M3 Coupe. The sports car has an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h and space for up to four occupants.

In the comments below, let us know which one you would prefer to own,  by using the design, engine and technology specs as a benchmark.

Update with Audi E-Tron specs

Audi’s point on entry in the high-end hybrid/electric segment is the E-Tron Concept that uses the R8 as a starting point. E-Tron is powered by four electric motors rather than a gasoline engine. Maximum output is 313 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. The drivetrain consists of four motors each drive one wheel and can be controlled independently, thus offering torque-vectoring functionality. Audi says 0 to 62 mph takes 4.8 seconds.

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50 responses to “Photo Comparison: BMW i8 vs. Audi R8”

  1. Badger says:

    You can’t really compare these two cars together. One of them is a sports car. The other is an electric hybrid sports car. So really you should put it against the 918, E-cell, and future etron.

  2. Manchester Man says:

    obviously the i8 wins but the r8 is not very far off, the r8 is still a stunning supercar. bmw m need to produce a supercar that will take out the r8 v10 and then audi aint talking any more.

  3. Mobileman8827 says:


  4. Rolf says:

    The i8 looks amazing…still though so does the R8 and i got to hand it to Audi – their supercar is a fucking masterpiece. If BMW would make an m model on i8 body…

  5. La Ma says:

    its a bit of a rubbish comparo as the R8 is a real car that has been on the market for several years, while the BMW i8 is a concept. It may or may not look the same when if ever will see production.
    I’m sure there will be a car that’s called i8, I’m just not sure how will it look compare to the concept.
    1st we have seen the concepts about a year ago with that rubbish  do-no-blog-about-this BS which obviously was a failed marketing/advertising move.
    Ad agency since been replaced, so forget the JOY and the half covered cars for weeks, BMW is back to the reality out of the kindergarten.
    So the car looks dynamic and interesting but some aspects of it is scary. Lambo doors ?  Seriously, that’s like  so last year, even the Lambo’s don’t have that anymore.
    Skinny narrow tires to help achieve better fuel/electricity economy – seriously, on a sports car we want to save fuel/energy ? Isn’t sport cars about driving enjoyment ?  If a person can afford a 200k car I’m sure he will enough enough spare change to get it fueled up every day.
    So the i3 makes a whole lot more sense and it is probably closer to the real i3 that will see daylight. The i8 is very much in a primitive concept shape. By the time an i8 will be on the market the Audi R8 will be replaced with their new model. The facelift was already done for 2012 so at 2014-15 the new R8 will be on the market.
    comparing apples to oranges will be always pointless, personal brand favoritism will take over the blind public.

  6. Most of you people are ridicules, you talk as if you have any idea about cars but by your comments you’re just making fools out of yourself and Horatiu Boeriu…how can you even write an article like this? 

    All of you should do your homework, know about cars before commenting or writing about it (no disrespecting you..Horatiu Boeriu) but the article was pointless.
    the iBrand is a new product line a true Hybrid/Electric car product while most cars that claim to be hybrid are just jokes.

    I wonder how old most of you people are..14?

    Act and debate with sense please or leave it.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      I guess no one read the intro…I clearly said the two cars are not comparable as far as technology and core values, but in the end, everyone will compare the two because they will be the flagships from the two companies.

      I know very well what i means, as well as R8, and I know BMW HAS NOT BUILT THE i8 TO BE AN R8 competitor.

      The comparison focuses simply on design and nothing wrong with comparing two beautiful cars.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nope, sorry, there’s no legit comparo here (and that’s not disrespecting you, Horatiu, in the fine job you do with bmwblog).

        The R8 is not a 2+2 hybrid.  The i8 is not a mid-engined supercar.  Here’s the ironic aspect: Should you think that the i8 & R8 are similar then, you really don’t understand what BMW is trying to accomplish with Project i.

        Would you compare a Cord 812 with a Yugo?  Both are FWD?  Why not? 

        • Horatiu B. says:

          Ok. let me try again. The comparison is based on design, the two cars will be compared that way without a doubt even by other magazines.

          And to even believe I don’t understand what Project is makes me very sad. I haven’t started BMWBLOG yesterday and I understand their business better than one thinks. I even took a ride in the BMW i8 last year, so I know exactly where I’m going with this.

          For the last time, a design comparison. Period.

          • ferrarifan says:

            How can you compare the design of a concept car to a real car? I’m pretty sure it would look far from that in production form..

          • Horatiu B. says:

            The only change will be the side doors. The car already evolved from concept to near production.

          • H Ghahramani says:

            We all appreciate your efforts and of course you know BMW better than us But here’s the point: why cant some one like you see the real approach of BMW to the nowhere !!? your blog always compare unsuccessful models of other brands with beautiful images of bmw models!
            I say as a loyal fan of BMW lets compare BMW with some successful models and even with the past of BMW.  Mr.Van hooydonk actually ruined 5 6 and 7 series models by pulling out their spirits away and you are responsible to criticize them in a fair manner .

        • Nnnn says:

          they have similar market positioning, in terms of price, performance, form factor, target age range (boys 8-15), etc etc etc.   It ain’t apples to apples, but this segment is now effected by the technology transition point seen elsewhere – it compares the end of the traditional supercar to the beginning of the new supercar.

          • Horatiu B. says:

            Thanks. Finally someone seeing the big picture and demographic

          • anoos says:

            see the big picture?  just because there are those on here who disagree with you doesnt make them wrong

          • Horatiu B. says:

            No, it certainly does not and many times I step forward and admit it when I’m wrong. I even started the article with the little caveat saying it’s not a fair comparison…anyway, there are plenty of magazines that compare unusual vehicles and they connect a single dot between them, mine was the design.

            Moving on, we’ve already talked a lot about this.

          • Otto says:

            Do you really believe that BMW will sale its i8 for 110k USD?
            Do you really believe that the i8 will match the R8 V10 in terms of performance?
            The i8 simply doesn’t have any direct competitor, actual or future.
            The closest things would be the Porsche 918 and the Jaguar C-X75 but they will leave the i8 far behind in terms of price and perfs.
            Finally, comparing a production car with a prototype – even if close to production – is not very relevant, especially when criterion is the look.

          • Anonymous says:

            target age range (boys 8-15)?   You got to be kidding me! LOL

        • Nnnn says:

          they have similar market positioning, in terms of price, performance, form factor, target age range (boys 8-15), etc etc etc.   It ain’t apples to apples, but this segment is now effected by the technology transition point seen elsewhere – it compares the end of the traditional supercar to the beginning of the new supercar.

      • can u compare it with the audi e tron. that would a comparo

    • La Ma says:

      Hey grandpa’ enough of the BS.   hybrids are no joke. The prius and others on the market were the pioneers. They had to start somewhere !
      Had the prius fail 10 years ago, do you think BMW would have gone into the iBrand ever ?  Nope.
      and besides that not too long ago BMW was making a statement all around the world saying the hybrids are crap and hydrogen powered car is a future. Whats up with that ? 

  7. Sajan says:

    Yes it’s got a BMW badge which means the engineering will be fabolous, but as a petrolhead with petrol in my veins, I’d have to take a 4.2 v8 over a 1.5l engine any day.

    • Mr. Guest says:

      And at the day when gas will be 15 bucks?

      • La Ma says:

        at that day the electric engine power will be also about 15bux. do you think electric energy  is free ?
        most places on earth are already running out of electricity capacity (like CA) and have shut downs !
        Do you really think the sun will provide all the energy we will need ? 

        get a life ! as much as I love electric power and solar power, the cars will be powered by gas for a long time. There is plenty of oil left and we just have to make them better.

  8. Marckula says:

    the i8 cannot be purchased yet – this comparison is pointless

    • Horatiu says:

      The E-Tron cannot be purchased either, that doesn’t stop us to look at them from a design point of view. I personally like both designs, and the R8 still looks fresh even  years after it came out

  9. BMW Fan says:

    I would take the i8 by a very large margin. The R8 is now old and looks very dated in comparison. Plus, there is no real innovations in the R8 body design – the i8 is a big jump forward. Hopefully the i8 and i3 push the 2 other large German motoring manufactures to start being a little more adventurous in their designs as well.

    • Nnnn says:


      That said, these sketches appear to be “detuning” the Vision design to look like a modification of the 6 series.  It’s a bit disappointing – some crucial lines have been removed too, like the edge of the side window against the white door.

    • Nnnn says:


      That said, these sketches appear to be “detuning” the Vision design to look like a modification of the 6 series.  It’s a bit disappointing – some crucial lines have been removed too, like the edge of the side window against the white door.

  10. the R8 is how exotic cars looks like today and the I8 is the future so we have to wait until 2015 or 2016 to see it on the roads and we make our final judgment
    uncomparble cars

  11. Of course BMW! But only if it has V8, V10 or V12 petrol engine :D

  12. Jeff says:

    Let’s talk about design.
    I’d say Audi has a long way to catch up.
    While the i8 was just announced recently, please dont forget the vision dynamics that has been out for like 2 years now (and looked even better than the i8 too IMO)
    The R8 looks like it’s 10 years old, like the TT sausage with some mustard on perhaps.
    Call me a bimmer fan boy but I think its fair to say that the E60 5-series is still intriguing and that the old 6-series is very comparable to the current model. BMW makes innovative and interesting designs while the others watch and follow.

    • OBSSESED W/ BMW says:

      GO i8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      im definatly with him on that i am not an audi fan but i thing that the i8 looks and probably drives like a true sportscar and not like an audi which has nothing really special to look at and is just another car on the road

  13. Viper says:

    i8 is a joke.
    R8 is the real thing.
    until bmw makes a real car dont do these unfair (to bmw) comparisons because we are all sick of it.
    compare this to hybrid prius or something.

  14. Giom (mobile) says:

    Funny how almost everybody miss the point of this comparo. Maybe they’re too lazy to read the intro, maybe they’re too short sighted to understand it… but what ever the reason, this is a very interesting comparo.

    My conclusion is that the i8 is the future, the R8 is past and present. In future, all such cars will look like the i8 and it will always be the first of its kind!

    • LFAF says:

      Unfair comparison, might as will compare to a Ford Model-T

      Shouldn’t you be comparing the BMW i8 with an Audi E-Tron or a Porsche 918?

      While you’re at it why not compare the i8 with the Mercedes SLS or a  Lexus LFA?

  15. Babken says:

    When it comes to performance, Audi is far better than BMW.

  16. Otto says:

    what are we looking at Horatiu? a 5 years old model and the prototype of a car that will be released in 3 years time?
    The new R8 will will introduced a couple of years after the i8 is made production, so this comparo is really irrelevant.
    I know that this kind of article brings a lot of visitors but there are some limits.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Brings a lot of visitors…yeah. That was really my intention.

      It was a comparison, just as many out there that are not always apples to apples. 2 supercars from 2 competitors. The flagships. And that’s the end of the story.

      Stay tuned tomorrow for Porsche hybrid vs i8.

  17. Mark Chen says:

    Hey guys, regarding the endless conflict between Audi and BMW on BMW Blog, I always considered it could be a good idea to do something on it…Here is my action:
    I conducted an academic research on the use of “comparative ads” in premium car segment. I highly appreciate the value of your voice, please let me know your stand on the war between Audi and BMW!

    This is my questionnaire:
    Short! and easy!
    Contact me on Facebook: Mark Chen —if you want to express more!

  18. H Ghahramani says:

    Funny comparisons!!  comparing an ultrastupid nonsense futuristic concept ever from bmw with a successful audi model on the road (except the headlights)!? instead of saying hurray for BMW lets put all those efforts on fair logical comparisons and criticizing unsuccessful models.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The Audi is a corporate parts bin response to something BMW originated 4 decades ago with the M1, the i8 will show the R8 to be the dinosaur it is.

  20. ImViridz says:

    FREE SEX! Got your attention. what if we put them into one car with supersport and hybrid together. it would be a win also an advance in their car companies. the car would be called the THE SPACESHIP THAT YOU DON’T HAVE

  21. OBSSESED W/ BMW says:

    bmw i8 all the way
    audi is sooooo not up to date

  22. charaf says:

    the audi r8 is the best

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