AUDI’S formidable R8 supercar also comes in Spyder guise - that’s ‘without a roof’.
There was never much wrong with it, save the rather clunky and inefficient R Tronic automated manual gearbox that most buyers preferred to the straightforward stick-shift.
Well that’s gone now, replaced at the mid-life facelift point by a far slicker 7-speed S tronic system that the majority of this car’s fortunate buyers will want.
They’ll enjoy smarter looks but the same ferocious pace from the V8 and V10 FSI petrol engines that beat beneath the driver. A great motoring experience awaits.
It was always a bit of a disappointment to jump into an automatic R8 and have to contend with the rather unsophisticated R tronic automated manual gearbox.
With the benefit of a far more sophisticated 7-speed S tronic system, the hand-built, naturally aspirated eight and ten cylinder FSI petrol engines are given even more opportunity to show their mettle with the acceleration time from rest to 62mph improved by three-tenths of a second compared with R tronic-equipped equivalents.
Both engines are compact, comparatively lightweight and feature motorsport-derived dry-sump lubrication which allows for low positioning and therefore a lower centre of gravity for optimum handling.
Mechanically, nothing has really changed, so as before, there’s standard quattro four wheel drive and a choice of V8 or V10 petrol engines.
The 4.2-litre V8 FSI powerplant produces 430PS at 7,900 rpm, and peak torque of 430Nm between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm. The unit enables the R8 V8 Spyder in manual and S tronic forms to take care of the 0-62mph sprint in 4.5 and 4.8 seconds respectively, and in both cases, drivers will be able to reach a top speed of 186mph if they’ve an airport runway or a deserted autobahn nearby. Most Spyder buyers choose the 525PS V10 engine which provides 530Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm, enabling the S tronic version to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 3.8 seconds en route to a maximum of 193mph (or with manual transmission, 4.1 seconds and 194mph).
As ever, the R8 embodies Audi’s wealth of expertise in ultra-lightweight design. The aluminium body of this Spyder with the Audi Space Frame (ASF) weighs just 216 kg, keeping total weight down to just 1,660kg.
This design’s elegant, lightweight fabric top, with its largely aluminium and magnesium linkage, perfectly complements the R8’s inherent ultra-lightweight design.
That roof opens and closes electrohydraulically in 19 seconds, and during driving at up to 31mph. The heated window in the bulkhead between the passenger and engine compartments stands apart from the soft top.
The window can be retracted and extended by a switch and also serves as a wind deflector. If sensors detect a potential rollover situation, two strong, spring-tensioned sections are ejected upwards from the seats.
It seems there are no limits to Audi’s ambition and having grown its mainstream range exponentially over recent years, it’s also established itself as a supercar manufacturer to be taken very seriously.
The R8 Spyder sits at the top of the Audi pile, adding a slickly engineered fabric hood to the standard R8 package. It’s a touch more visually elegant than the muscular coupe but those all-wheel-drive V8 and V10 mechanicals mean there will be no let-up in its performance.
The most recent improvements haven’t fundamentally affected this car’s appeal, but they’re welcome nonetheless, improving efficiency and further smartening the already jaw-dropping looks.
Do you really need more than this in a lottery-winning convertible supercar? You’d have to wonder....
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Audi R8 Spyder
PRICE: £100,225-£124,225 - on the road
INSURANCE GROUP: 50
CO2 EMISSIONS: 294-349g/km
PERFORMANCE: [V10] 0-62mph 4.1s / Max Speed: 194mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [V10] (combined) 19mpg
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ESP, twin front and side airbags, anti lock brakes, traction control, ISOFIX child seat fixing
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE? length/width/height 4431/1904/1249mm