The Audi R8, a symbol of engineering excellence and automotive passion, has bid farewell with a limited edition model that might well be the most fun and enjoyable mid-engine road car the German brand from Ingolstadt has ever made. Meet the 2023 Audi R8 GT, the final iteration of the R8, which marks the end of an era, closing the chapter on a model that has redefined the supercar segment since its debut. The R8 GT is a fitting tribute, encapsulating the essence of performance, luxury, and innovation that has characterised the R8 lineage for the last mere 16 years. Limited to just 333 coupes worldwide, this model is a rare gem, destined to be a collector's item.

Heritage

The Audi R8 made it’s grand entrance at the 2006 Paris Auto Show, quickly capturing the hearts of car enthusiasts and industry experts alike. Named after Audi’s victorious R8 race car, which dominated Le Mans, the road-going R8 brought race-inspired technology to the streets. The initial model featured a 4.2-litre V8 engine, producing 420 PS, paired with Audi's signature Quattro all-wheel-drive system, delivering supercar-like handling and performance.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review
Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

In 2008, Audi introduced the R8 V10, elevating the car’s power to 525 PS from a Lamborghini-derived 5.2-litre V10 engine. This iteration further cemented the R8’s reputation as a serious contender in the supercar world. The R8’s success was bolstered by its starring role in the “Iron Man” film series, becoming synonymous with Tony Stark’s high-tech, high-performance lifestyle.

Over the years, the R8 has seen numerous updates, including the addition of a Spyder variant, various performance upgrades, and a second-generation model launched in 2015. The second-generation R8 featured a more aggressive design, advanced technologies, and even more powerful engine options, including a 610-PS V10 Plus.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

Final hurrah

The final hurrah within the Audi R8 range is the most powerful rear-wheel-drive Audi yet, and offers a nice range of upgrades, while also taking away those front-driven wheels letting them only steer the sports car. At the heart you will find the same naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine as the regular R8, delivering 620 PS and 417 lb-ft of torque. The GT is 40 horses stronger than the regular rear-drive R8.

This engine is a masterpiece of engineering, offering linear power delivery and a wonderful soundtrack that only a high-revving natural-aspirated V10 can produce. The combination between its power delivery and sonorous tune will be sorely missed among the endless list of cars released with turbocharged engines and electric motors. The power is channeled through a seven-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission, ensuring in this model even faster gear changes and seamless power transfer. In its most aggressive mode, the ferocious energy of a wide-open-throttle upshift is felt through your spine, reminiscent of its Italian family member from Sant'Agata Bolognese.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

The R8 GT accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds, with a top speed of 199 mph. This performance is not just about raw speed; it's about the way the car delivers it and how it makes you feel. The addition of a new feature called Torque Rear is fully encompasses this nature and is nothing other than a seven-stage drift mode meant to offer you loads of fun while not spinning every single time you go sideways.

Playfulness at its core

The R8 GT's handling is enhanced by a range of performance-focused technologies. The car features a recalibrated suspension system using coil-overs from KW Suspensions with stiffer springs and dampers, lower ride height, and lightweight carbon fibre anti-roll bars. Bump and rebound get up to 18 clicks of tweakery that are adjustable at home using the standard tools that come with the car.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review
Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

Additionally, the R8 GT is equipped with carbon-ceramic brakes and a range of software tweaks in the steering, throttle response and especially the shifting, which offer an enhanced experience all-around. This R8 has really come alive. Audi’s engineers have also focused on weight reduction, employing carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for various body panels and components. This results in a curb weight of just 1,570 kilograms for European spec cars, making the R8 GT only 20 kg lighter than its RWD Performance sibling.

The combination of reduced weight, rear-wheel drive, and precision engineering results in a driving experience that is the best driving experience I personally ever encountered in a standard Audi R8, which rolled off the production line in Neckarsulm. On the road, it feels sharper, more poised and more connected to your inputs without impacting the pure R8 characteristics we all cherished the past years. It is definitely not as mental as a Huracan STO, but it allows for that extra level of agility you so sorely missed in the normal R8’s the past few years.

Interior refinement

Inside the Audi R8 GT, you meet a lovely combination of luxury meets performance. The cabin offers more space than its Italian counterpart and combines a blend of high-quality materials, advanced technology, and ergonomic design. Alcantara and fine Nappa leather are visible on the sport seats, which provide decent support and comfort, essential for both spirited driving and long journeys. The seats can tilt forwards to access the rear parcel shelf, however they don’t tilt while folded back into place.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

The minimalist yet driver-centric cockpit features a digital instrument cluster with Audi's Virtual Cockpit, allowing customisation of the display to prioritise performance data or navigation. The central infotainment system offers seamless integration with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ensuring connectivity on the go. Attention to detail is evident throughout the interior, with GT-specific badging, contrast stitching, and carbon fibre trim enhancing the sense of occasion. The R8 GT also includes a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Exterior design and a bit more

The 2023 R8 GT's exterior design is a testament to Audi's commitment to form and function. The aggressive front fascia features larger air intakes, a prominent splitter, and distinctive LED headlights. The aerodynamic enhancements continue with side skirts, a rear diffuser, and a fixed rear wing, all contributing to improved downforce of up to 300 kg and stability at high speeds.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review
Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review
Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

Lightweight, forged alloy wheels wrapped in high-performance Michelin PS4S tyres underscore the car’s athletic stance, but also every day nature, because we would normally have expected Michelin’s Cup 2 road legal track tyre, which were available as an option. The R8 GT is available in three exclusive colours, including a striking matte finish, ensuring that it stands out in any setting.

Goodbye Audi R8, you will be missed

The 2023 Audi R8 GT is a fitting farewell to a modern icon. It encapsulates the spirit of the R8 lineage, combining pure performance, cutting-edge technology, and luxurious refinement. With its limited production run of only 333 models, the R8 GT is not just a car but part of a piece of automotive history, destined to be cherished by enthusiasts and collectors alike. The vehicle marks the end of the V10 powerplant, which will only be available in track-only vehicles like McLaren’s Solus GT and Red Bull’s upcoming new RB17.

Audi R8 GT (2023) last drive review

As the R8 drives off into the sunset, it leaves behind a legacy of innovation, passion, and performance surrounded by German engineering and refinement. The latest run of R8 GT‘s stands as a testament to what Audi can achieve, setting a high bar for future endeavours in the supercar arena, potentially powered by electric motors only. For those fortunate enough to have experienced this last hurrah, it is important to brand it in your heart and mind, because it won’t come around any time soon. In many ways, this pure automotive experience is a legacy event of the past. Something legislators we all put in power never want to see happen ever again.

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