At last, I got to drive this iconic, responsible open-top Supercar
Jonathan Humphrey has his buttons pressed by the Audi R8 Spyder
At a bright sunny day with many of Audi’s latest high-performance models available, I drove four cars sharing a not too shabby 1800hp, amongst them a brace of R8 just needed to be driven.
Since the launch of the first R8 in 2007 this latest creation is now lighter up to 50kg, stiffer with up to a 50% increase in body rigidity, faster and more powerful, but with improved efficiency, economy and added refinement.
I have been excited by the specifications of the revitalised R8 spyder since it was re-launched. Available to drive was the V10 Plus with the extra carbon fibre touches and powered by a 610PS, V10 5.2 Litre engine and the lesser V10 5.2 FSI powered with 540PS on tap, just a shade less worthy, although it was that version as a Spyder that really took my eye.
With the advent of hypercars, the R8 Spyder is the popular King of the ‘junior’ supercars, although junior is a bit of a crappy description for a car with such incredible performance. A top speed of 197mph, acceleration, faster than pretty much anything on land, 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds and still with a combined fuel economy of 24.1mpg and emissions of 277g/km CO2 EU6. Audi has put together the sensible supercar for the modern world and in exchange for this stupendous performance, it is available at an agreeable price compared to Ferrari, Mclaren or Lamborghini. Prices start at £132,020, although the test car with its must-have extras pushed this northwards to £155k.
For some, the R8 Spyder may just not be radical enough with its looks but on the open roads around Warwickshire the bright crystal effect Ara blue model sure achieved enough admiring and envious glances. It isn’t all just ballistic performance, driving it through small towns and villages can be just as much fun and you get a chance to play with the steering wheel centric controls. Driving the R8 plus is done without taking your hands off the wheel, it is all there at hand and looks and feels fantastic. The latest R8 now utilises the latest start-stop system and with (COD) cylinders on demand technology, the large engine can reduce its use of the engine when being driven sensibly around town.
It’s a wide car, but overall views out are good, it’s available with parking sensors and a reversing camera and the rear view by the mirrors doesn’t make parking too frightening. Even better the R8 spider is available with front and rear park assist.
The virtual cockpit dynamically animates right in front of your eyes, for navigation, revs, the displays are so visually impressive and easy to read, getting used to this functionality takes a little time, but after that you just wish more cars worked this way. Audi’s virtual cockpit is now rolling out across the entire range including the rather impressive New A5 and S5 SUV. Some of the R8’s controls are possibly not supercar enough but remember they just fit the brief in so many ways.
It would be hard to fault the R8 Spyder, and you could drive it every day, or cherish it as a weekend road racer, it is a remarkable combination whichever way you stare at it. Picking between the R8 coupe or Spyder it would be hard not to crave the sensation of hitting the power for the harsh acceleration in warp mode with the top down once in awhile. Roof up the R8 Spyder is in many ways is as peaceful as the Coupe. Well insulated and exceptionally quick to raise or stow. Top-down the immense noise from the V10 engine planted behind you is just more of what you would buy it for.
Inside, the cockpit is pretty roomy; it’s easy to live with and easy to love. Given any opportunity of unleashing any of its power, you are rewarded with the best mechanical sounds at an appreciable volume. It is a pleasure and the rewards of driving the R8 in a more energetic way are there for the taking. The spitting and crackle of the exhaust, the engine note, the added assurance of quattro all-wheel drive, this is an uncut almost faultless package.
If you do get a chance to press the naughty Dynamic mode button located on the steering wheel, get set for a firm track-like experience, an ear-bleeding cacophony of sound and hold onto most of your body parts, acceleration is brutally explosive. Fun, but brutal.
The details around the R8 Spyder make it a pleasure from all angles and once inside the high-performance cockpit is a special place to be. The optional Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system is more than adequately powered, and the sound output is impressive for a two-seater and top-down.
This car is equipped with the optional laser light LED headlights technology with high beam assist a £3,150 option, now I just have to look forward to experiencing this R8 in the dark, please Audi.
All in all, the R8 will always be an icon and a winner with a flattering, super fast, geeky, friendly, easy-to-drive nature.
Perhaps a Ferrari or Lamborghini isn’t for you, all a bit too flash, sometime in your life, should you have the cash, Audi have made buying a car like this, feel like common sense, a natural progression, a luxury purchase, buying another supercar still just says something else.
Car reviewed: Audi R8 Spyder V10 5.2 FSI quattro S tronic (540 PS) – On the road £129,900, price as tested £155k 0-62mph 3.6 secs Top speed 197mph limited Fuel Economy combined 24.1mpg CO2 emissions 277g/km Engine 5204cc V10 petrol EU6 Max Power 540PS@7800rpm Torque 540Nm@6500rpm Transmission 7-speed S tronic with quattro AWD and traction control and mechanical diff lock
Surely, one of the best soft tops
A common sense supercar
Power, acceleration, braking
I had to give it back
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