If you’re lucky enough to be in the market for a supercar, but need one that can just about cope as a daily driver, your choices are fairly limited. For the past 10 years, one of the best options has been the futuristic looking Audi R8 and, now in its second generation, its appeal is stronger than ever. The Nissan GT-R, however, offers the same ludicrous performance but at a cheaper price. We compare the two to help you pick a favourite.
Audi R8 vs Nissan GT-R – styling
The original Audi R8 was one of the most eye-catching and distinctively designed Audi since the TT so, seeking to avoid fixing what wasn’t broken, the firm’s taken an evolutionary approach to the R8’s styling. There are striking LED headlights and a large hexagonal grille, plus that characteristic ‘blade’ on the side of the car. It has unmistakeable presence on the road only outshone by the likes of Lamborghini and Ferrari.
The GT-R has been on sale for nearly 10 years, and its look has remained mostly unchanged. It has presence thanks to bulging bodywork, carbon fibre trim and massive alloy wheels but arguably can’t match the visual drama of the the R8. Despite this, its coupe-like proportions means it can fit a small pair of back seats. Tellingly, the only Nissan badge is on the back end, but it still manages to be a highly desirable machine.
Audi R8 vs Nissan GT-R – interior
Audi’s reputation for producing beautiful interiors is almost second to none and, as the performance flagship of the range, the R8 doesn’t disappoint. The cabin is extremely driver focused, and Audi’s MMI system is controlled solely through the all digital dial setup, known as the Virtual Cockpit Display. High quality materials feature everywhere, and there’s a sense of genuinely exemplary build quality.
The GT-R’s age is betrayed a little when you open the door – it’s certainly not as modern in its design as many other cars in the class. You do get an interior covered in leather with plentiful tech options but, on the whole, the cabin simply doesn’t feel as premium as its rivals. Thankfully, the layout is at least fairly sensible making it easy to control most of the car’s functions.
Practicality won’t be your main concern when buying either option, but both are more useable than you might think. The R8’s mid-engine layout means there isn’t a traditional boot, but there’s 112 litres of storage space at the front, and 226 litres behind the seats – ample for most shopping trips or a short weekend break. The GT-R has just about enough room for four, and the 315-litre boot is larger than a Ford Focus‘.
Audi R8 vs Nissan GT-R – driving
The R8 comes as standard with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, offering superb levels of grip and the ability to inspire confidence in corners. Combined with the raucous engine and violent acceleration, it’s a car that’ll never fail to excite, even on the most mundane of journeys. The adjustable suspension and driving modes also mean it’s just at home on the motorway as it is on the race track.
The GT-R also gets all-wheel drive as standard, so it also performs well on virtually all surfaces in all weathers. It also gets a host of configurable settings for driving modes, suspension and handling, so you’re bound to find your perfect setup. Where the R8 feels light and agile, the GT-R feels heavier but the combination of its huge power and quick-shifting auto gearbox mean it spears towards the horizon as if magnetically attracted to it.
Audi R8 vs Nissan GT-R – engines
The R8 features a hand-built 5.2-litre V10 producing 533hp in standard form, and an amazing 602hp in ‘Plus‘ specification. The basic engine can get from 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds, with the more powerful version managing it 0.3 seconds faster. Both versions are paired to a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, offering smooth and swift gear changes. Both engines also have cylinder-on-demand technology to reduce fuel consumption but, if you’re after a smaller engine, you’ll have to wait for a turbocharged V6 R8 with around 450hp – rumoured to arrive in 2018.
The GT-R’s hand-built 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 produces 542hp in standard guise, and 591hp in crazy Nismo form. It may look larger than the R8 but, thanks to aggressively short gear ratios and robust four-wheel drive, it’ll reach 62mph from rest in an incredible 2.7 seconds – among the quickest of any car on sale today. The Nismo version hasn’t officially been tested, but is rumoured to cover the sprint in less than 2.5 seconds. Power is fed through a dual-clutch six-speed automatic gearbox.
Audi R8 vs Nissan GT-R – value for money
Unsurprisingly, neither of these cars are cheap to buy or run, but they do offer reasonable value for money when you compare them against similarly specced supercars from other brands. The cheapest R8 costs £119,520 with the standard V10 engine, and the Plus version costs a hefty £134,520 – hardly cheap, but less than a comparable Porsche 911 Turbo S. Equipment levels are good, but it’s still possible for options lists to run into the tens of thousands of pounds if you’re not careful.
In comparison, the GT-R is a massive bargain – it might lack some of the premium materials and ultra high-tech infotainment options, but you can own one for around £80,000 – about as much as a well specced BMW M4. Adding the £45,000 Nismo package isn’t cheap, but £125,000 for something faster than many true race cars doesn’t seem too unreasonable at all.
Fuel consumption is, of course, very high with the Audi managing to return an official 24.8/23mpg for the V10/V10 Plus versions respectively. The Nissan officially returns 23.9mpg regardless of engine tuning, but neither car is likely to get anywhere close to these figures if driven as intended. Road tax is also very expensive, being £1100 the first year, and £550 each year after for both.
Audi R8 vs Nissan GT-R – verdict
You might not think that any Nissan would present a credible challenge to an Audi, not least an Audi that shares most of its underpinnings with a Lamborghini. However, with all-wheel drive, insanely powerful engines and a raft of driving technologies, these two are incredibly closely matched, and both are worthy options if you’re in the market.
If it’s outright speed and performance you want, you need only glance at the Nissan GT-R’s spec sheet to find it’s the one for you. However, if you value a bit of brand kudos and want real supercar styling, you might prefer to choose the Audi R8. Add in the raspy V10 and fantastic interior, and there are few reasons not to recommend the R8.
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Check out our Audi R8 deals page to see how much carwow could help you save or, if the Japanese option takes your fancy, check out our Nissan GT-R deals page. For more options, head over to our car chooser to narrow down your search or see our car deals page for our latest discounts.