Does the new McLaren GT make the Audi R8 irrelevant?

By now, you’ve probably heard the news — the Audi R8 is on its way out. Until the fat lady finally sings for the R8, though, it will remain one of the absolute best everyday supercars. However, more and more of them are coming out and catching up to the mid-engine Audi. The newest to dawn is the brand-new McLaren GT and it could render the Audi R8 irrelevant.

As the name suggests, the McLaren GT is designed to be the grand touring model of the McLaren lineup. So rather than act as yet another hyper-fast road-missile, the GT slows things down just a bit (barely at all, to be honest) to add some extra comfort and continent-crossing ability.

While the Audi R8 isn’t exactly marketed as a mid-engine grand touring car like the McLaren, that’s what it is in reality. The R8, while extremely fast and supremely capable, is actually quite comfortable and easy to live with. In fact, its main complaint is that it’s too easy, too safe to drive quickly. So in practice, the two cars are very similar.

They’re not too dissimilar in spec, either. Both are mid-engine supercars that make over 600 hp. In ‘Performance’ guise, the new Audi R8 V10 makes 602 hp from its 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10. While the McLaren GT makes 620 hp from its 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8. Both also have seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes and both hit 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.1 seconds. Though, the Audi R8 gets Quattro all-wheel drive while the McLaren GT powers only its rear-wheels.

While they both claim to nail 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, we’re almost certain both will be much faster than that, easily breaking into the 2.7-2.8 second range. Off the line, the R8’s tenacious Quattro all-wheel drive might help it be a tick quicker to 60 mph but the McLaren’s extra power and lighter weight will give it the edge over a longer race. As evidenced by its blistering 9.0 second 0-124 mph time.

The McLaren is also the more exotic car. It sports a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, while the Audi R8 uses a more traditional, albeit advanced aluminum-intensive, chassis. It’s also a McLaren, which has more supercar pedigree.

Now, this is usually the part where I say that the Audi R8 is the cheaper of the two, making it better value. That’s typically how it goes with the R8 when compared to other supercars. However, that can’t really be said here. The R8 Performance starts at $195,000 in the US, while the McLaren GT will start at $210,000. Sure, that’s a $15,000 premium for the Brit but, at that price point, $15k is quite inconsequential.

I love the Audi R8 and think it’s a sensational car, especially that brilliant free-breathing V10. However, if it were my money and I could get a McLaren for essentially the same money, I wouldn’t hesitate in picking the one from Woking, England.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.