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Audi R8 Spyder - Supercar Soft-Top Sensation
Audi R8 Spyder
For those who don't know, a little R8 history lesson...

Back in 2007, Audi decided the time was right to show the world what it was truly made of and it gave us the stunning R8 supercar. Launched to universal acclaim, I too was suitably impressed not only by the looks, acceleration and top-notch build quality, but also by the ease of driving, not always a given with cars of this ilk.

The original R8 was equipped with a 430PS 4.2-litre V8 plucked from the RS4, later gaining V10 and V10 plus options. Both were exceptionally fast but those two extra cylinders made a noticeable difference, not just in acceleration but also to the soundtrack. Coupe and Spyder versions were available.

The second generation R8 burst onto the scene in 2015 and this time only V10 power was offered, the engine boasting either 540 or 610PS power outputs. If you are interested, the more powerful engine does service in the Lamborghini Hurracan.

Late last year, the second generation R8 Spyder was launched. The key point of differentiation between Coupe and Spyder R8 models is of course the lightweight cloth hood, which tapers into two fins that stretch the cloth so that the roof harmonises perfectly with the dramatic lines of the high-performance car.

Opening and closure is fully automated and can be operated at speeds of up to 31mph, useful if caught in a sudden downpour with nowhere safe to stop. The roof aerobatics take around twenty seconds and have the ability to wow passers-by.

Audi's newly developed Space Frame, which uses a mix of aluminium and carbon fibre helps keep weight down whilst enhancing structural rigidity, so important in a convertible car. The result is a complete lack of scuttle shake, even when traversing some of the UK's worst surfaced roads.

My test car's Daytona grey pearl effect paint finish was combined with a red soft top and black Nappa Leather interior. A subtle and tasteful combination, in my opinion. The more extrovert can choose a lurid colour if they wish.

Audi ask £132,020 for the privilege of R8 Spyder ownership, but it's doubtful any would-be owner will leave the options list untouched. I would say yes to the Sports exhaust system, an undoubted £1,800 extravagance, but the noise is quite intoxicating. You neighbours might beg to disagree...

Thus equipped, I wouldn't bother with the £1,750 Bang and Olufsen stereo upgrade - you'll struggle to hear it!

Everything else the discerning supercar buyer might require comes as standard, including Audi's excellent fully digital Virtual Cockpit.

At present the R8 Spyder is only available with the 540PS V10 engine.

It is no slouch and will rush to 62mph in 3.6 seconds.

Top speed is a heady 197mph, somewhat irrelevant on the UK's restricted and speed camera monitored roads.

Quattro all-wheel drive ensures that all that power can be safely enjoyed whatever the weather. During my week behind the wheel I encountered motorways more akin to rivers, high winds and just a little sunshine. At all times I felt safe and secure.

A superb seven-speed S tronic gearbox is fitted with obligatory paddles for ultimate control. Silky smooth and lightening quick, I doubt many buyers will bemoan the lack of a manual gearbox option.

Select 'Sport' mode and all downward gearchanges are accompanied by an intoxicating bark from the engine - a definite crowd-pleaser.

In everyday use, the R8 Spyder boasts a surprisingly supply ride. A steering-wheel mounted button can firm things up, but comfort mode suits the UK's uneven roads best.

The R8 corners flat and cross country journeys disappear in the blink of an eye. Narrow lanes call for a modicum of care, as the Spyder is quite a wide car.

At motorway speeds with the roof up, refinement is to notch, with wind and road noise well muted.

Roof down is a somewhat blustery affair, even with the rear screen raised and wind deflector in place. It may not suit all, but I loved and frequently arrived at journey's end with somewhat tousled hair.

If such trivial matters such as fuel economy are of interest, Audi quotes a figure of 24.1mpg for the combined cycle and emissions of 277g/km CO2.

A gentle cruise saw a little over 21mpg on the trip computer, but use the performance to the full and mid teens will be the result.

The R8's interior will delight with the finest of materials much in evidence. Clambering aboard can be a little challenging, but once ensconced there is ample leg and headroom for even the tallest drivers.

The leather-clad bucket seats are extremely comfortable but more importantly hold you firmly in place.

Up front is a deep boot, capable of holding a week's shopping or some squashy bags for a weekend away.

Speed freaks amongst you will be delighted to learn that Audi has just announced plans to make the 610PS V10 engine available in the Spyder

Priced from £147,470, this model will allow buyers to join the 200mph+ club and will shave 0.3 seconds of the 0 to 62mph sprint time. £15,450 well spent? I will let you decide...

What I can say is that either R8 Spyder will thrill and excite, yet will come without the histrionics that plague some other supercars. If I was lucky enough to own one, I would drive it every day in all weathers. I suspect most owners do.

Fast Facts

Audi R8 Spyder
Price £132,020 (£137,720 as tested)
5.2-litre 540 PS V10 engine
7-speed S tronic gearbox & quattro AWD
0-62mph in 3.6 seconds
Top speed 197mph
Fuel economy 24.1mpg (combined cycle)
Emissions - 277g/km CO2
Tax Band M
Audi R8 Spyder - Supercar Soft-Top Sensation, 19th June 2017, 13:22 PM