Audi R8 V10 Spyder car review
- We like...Blisteringly quick; special to drive
- We don't...Tiny space for luggage
Is an open roof worth having? Even when you’re talking supercars – like Audi’s V10-engined R8, here – it’s hard to make a case.
Swapping a metal roof for cloth makes a car less structurally stiff – and that’s a bad thing, especially when you’ve so much ’go’ travelling from engine to wheels. It can mean that the chassis flexes too much. The way to fix this is to strengthen the body which alsomakes it heavier. That, in turn, makes it slower. In fairness, though, we should say that with 520bhp on tap, this R8’ll still shift from rest to 60mph in under 4.1secs.
Stowage space for the soft-top robs you on luggage space, leaving only a smallish bin under the bonnet as the only space for your weekly shop (unless you drop it into the front footwell). Suitcases? Forget it - there's no room.
But a few moments in this car and none of this matters. It’s a life-affirming experience, the wind rushing past, the big motor blaring as it kicks you along the road.
You sit low as you would in a racer looking out through the wide-spanning screen. Opt for the manual gearbox (and we think you should: more on that later) and you get a piston-shaped changer knob atop a lever that clacks around a chromium gate, in the way of many a classic sportster. The engine howls in such an encouraging way that you’ll want to build revs in low gears just for the heck of it, and you’ll also want to drive roofless any time it’s not pouring, just to experience that sound full-on.
You’ll already know that it is very, very quick. It’s pace is shattering. But what you should also know is that it is also civilised. While turn-in is near instant and it’s a car that darts through corners rather than eases into them, its ride soothes away enough of the bumps to make it sensible to use on a long, long drive.
There’s the tiniest bit of chassis-shake to be felt when going hard and the road surface is poor, but that’s all.
It is also easy enough to drive slowly and with restraint: it will potter to the shops if that’s what you need of it. That real-world sense extends to the ownership deal: for instance, it can stretch service intervals to two years and 19,000 miles, depending on how you drive. The roof drops and refits itself quickly and, once in place, keeps out draughts as noise nearly as well as a hard-top, although you can drop the rear window to let in air and engine bellow.
The dash, frankly, looks pretty ordinary, though it’s finished as nicely as you’d expect in an Audi.
If you prefer to have your gears swap themselves, an extra £5000 gets you the R-tronic transmission. Using this you can pick your own gears clutchlessly using racing-style paddles that sit just behind the wheel rim or by nudging the gear selector to and fro. This can be great fun especially, if you hit the ‘Sport’ button, it’ll hold the gears to maximum revs. Alternatively, you can leave it in a’auto’ and let the car do the work, but if you do this there’s a lurch between gears and an irritating ‘will it, won’t it’ instant before it completes the shift. We save the cash and stick with the manual.
Should you buy one? Definitely (if you're rich). Despite its stupendous ability it is easy to drive and (providing you travel without luggage) undemanding to live with. It is also about the best fun you can imagine.
- Engines5.2-lire V10 petrol
- 0-60 mph4.1secs
- Economy19.0mpg (manual gearbox)
- Insurance groups50
Motors.co.uk value verdict: