What is it?
Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro; Audi’s mid-engine supercar with a fabric roof (no folding hard-tops in Audi’s vast range, remember).
Power comes from the same direct-injection 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 engine that’s fitted to the coupe. A V8 version is not available from launch, but is expected to follow.
Drive goes to all four wheels (with a rear bias) and Audi will charge you £111,995 for the manual or £117,700 for the R-tronic automated manual.
Lightweight materials are used throughout. The body is a combination of aluminium and composite materials while the chassis is predominantly aluminium, as are the suspension wishbones. There’s even magnesium in the roof structure.
However, this isn’t a flyweight supercar – the light materials peg the weight rather than reduce it – meaning at 1720kg (100kg more than the coupe) the car is class competitive, rather than class leading.
Fortunately, the extraordinarily punchy motor compensates. The stats say 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds but this car accelerates with a rare ferocity that makes it feel way quicker. You’ll love the zingy, inertia-free nature of the rev delivery too – more like a MotoGP bike than a car.
Click here to see the Audi R8 Spyder in action on evo tv
What’s it like to drive?
The R8’s true supercar credentials remain (that acceleration, precise steering, huge grip) with barely any of the usual soft-top compromises (handling imprecision, scuttle shake). On excessively broken surfaces a few tiny tremors filter to your palms and during absolute ten-tenths, tyre-ripping, on-the-edge driving you can detect the extra mass shifting fore and aft – but the effect is negligible.
We’ll have to test a coupe and a Spyder back-to-back in the UK to confirm a suspicion that the coupe feels a tad more agile in fast left/right/left transitions, but again, on first impressions it’s borderline incredible that the R8 Spyder remains 99 per cent uncorrupted by the additional weight and the removal of the solid roof. Then again, Audi always intended to build a Spyder version of the R8 and undoubtedly future-proofed the engineering from the get-go.
Of course, the open-air configuration means you’re introduced to a whole new level of aural histrionics – you find yourself utterly distracted by the yowls and fizzes and burbles and pops of that mighty engine. It’s a truly multi-layered voice and utterly beguiling.
How does it compare?
Exceptionally well, both in terms of pricing and performance. If you are considering anything from a Jaguar XKR Convertible (£80,995) to a Porsche 911 Turbo cabriolet (£109,048) or even a Ferrari California (£143,325) then you must arrange a test drive. Sure, it doesn’t offer the storage of its front-engined rivals, but if you desire driving thrills over boot space (this is evo, after all) then little can touch it at any price. Group test of some of the R8’s key rivals this way…
Anything else I need to know?
Magnetic dampers (standard fit) provide a ride that Rolls-Royce would be proud to call its own, while LED headlamps, sat-nav and a superb Bang & Olufsen stereo are standard too. There’s a neat seatbelt-mounted mic for the hands-free kit available as an option and the fabric roof completes its action in 19 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph.