Spyder 4.2 FSI V8
can have it as a fixed-head
Coupe or as a convertible Spyder;
you can have it with a 424bhp V8
or with a 518bhp V10; and you
can have Audis
R8 supercar with
a manual box
automatic transmission. So long,
that is, as youve
got the Readies...
DESPITE THE RECESSION, 5-6 month waiting lists and eye-watering prices
(from £87,035 to £123,020) there's no shortage of UK buyers for Audi's
Since its 2007 UK launch, 2,062 R8 Coupes have found homes in the UK; and since
its introduction in 2009, 456 Spyders have also been snapped up. Eight out of
ten Coupe, and nine out of ten Spyder customers, have gone for V10 power.
I recently shoe-horned myself behind the wheel of a 424bhp R8 Spyder. Its 317lb
ft of torque is delivered via the standard quattro all-wheel drive system and
a six-speed manual 'box. The list price for this model is £94,950 but add in
a DVD-based SatNav, the obligatory Bang & Olufsen hi-fi, an invaluable parking
system and the £1,000 first-year road tax plus a few more options and the price
rises to £101,660.
buys you a top speed of 186mph and zero to 62mph in 4.8 seconds. For the record,
the V10 runs to 194mph, with zero to 62mph done and dusted in 4.1 seconds. Insurance
is the maximum Group 50 rating and the tailpipe emissions, should you care,
are 337g/km for the V8 manual and 315g/km for the auto. Manual V10's emit 349g/km;
332g/km for the auto.
While the majority of UK
R8 owners take the
when it comes to engine
size, most of us motoring
pundits who have tried
both feel the V8 is better
suited for everyday
driving its more
refined and less peaky
in its power delivery...
Which explains the £1,000 road tax hit for the first year the
road tax for all versions drops to £460 in the second year. Fuel costs will
also be high: officially, the V8 averages 19.6mpg (manual; 20.9mpg for the auto).The
V10 19 and 19.9mpg.
My glorious test drive pushed the official 19.6mpg up to 21.2mpg
not that I was holding back or cruising in look-at-me mode, although I did keep
more or less within the legal limits. A car of this nature attracts attention
from the 'boys in blue', and I had no intention of smiling for the speed camera.
While the majority of UK R8 owners take the biggest-is-best route when it comes
to engine size, most of us motoring pundits who have tried both feel the V8
is better suited for everyday driving it's more refined and less
'peaky' in its power delivery.
My test Spyder was running the latest version of the high-revving, dry sump
4.2 FSI V8. Thanks to a new recuperation system that conserves energy during
coasting and braking, this normally-aspirated petrol powerplant complies with
EU5 emissions limits. Its 424bhp peaks at 7,900rpm; maximum torque of 317lb
ft is on tap between 4,500 and 6,000rpm. Better still, at least 90% of this
torque can be tapped into lower down the rev range, from 3,500rpm, as well as
above the peak 6,000rpm all the way to 7,500rpm.
With a 50:50 weight distribution, the quattro all-wheel drive delivers sanitised
and safe power delivery under hard acceleration and during cornering, especially
on wet or muddy road surfaces.
Handling is flat and level and, despite the lightweight aluminium composite
construction, mid-engine design and little suspension travel, the ride quality
is not too harsh firm yes; but generally it's compliant.
the aim is to make full use of its 186mph performance on the circuit or German
Autobahns or, more likely, drive sedately with the top down enjoying the fresh
air and the scenery of the British countryside, the V8-powered R8 Spyder is
a useable and durable supercar that can be run day in and day out without the
need for numerous servicing visits.
Technical items, over
and above the V8 engine
and quattro drive,
front brake callipers
(four-piston at the rear),
lock, traction control and
handling with variable
settings that can be
chosen by the driver...
the heart of the R8 Spyder is an electro-hydraulically controlled hood whose
design blends harmoniously with the R8's mid-engined bodystyle. Retractable
at speeds of up to 31mph, this exposes the driver and passenger to the elements
in 19 seconds.
When lowered, the hood folds like a 'Z' beneath the automatically activated
casing of its storage compartment above the engine. The heated glass window,
which is separate from the fabric hood, drops down into the bulkhead. It can
be independently raised or lowered by the touch of a button with the roof either
up or down. An additional wind deflector is supplied as standard and can be
latched into the bulkhead behind the seats in seconds.
Although the engine compartment is positioned immediately behind the two seats,
the cabin to the front appears deceptively spacious. The R8 Spyder is equipped
with the same kit as the Coupe R8, but in addition has heating and power adjustment
for the Fine Nappa leather-trimmed seats although unfortunately no scarf or
neck warming function as found on some other less-expensive convertibles. Also,
there are not enough bespoke secondary controls: many of the stalks and switches
can be found in much cheaper Audi and Volkswagen models.
However, included is Bluetooth mobile 'phone preparation incorporating seatbelt-mounted
microphones which make it possible to talk on the phone even with the top down
on the motorway, a top-of-the-range sound system, sports seats, remote central
locking, power-operated and heated door mirrors, electric windows, a flat-bottomed
multifunction steering wheel, aluminium gear knob and sporty design gearlever
gate, on-board computer, lockable glovebox, scuff plates, front and side airbags,
a retractable rear spoiler and 19-inch alloy wheels (8.5J at the front and wider
11Js at the rear).
items, over and above the V8 engine and quattro drive, include eight-piston
front brake callipers (four-piston at the rear), electronic differential lock,
traction control and integrated electronic handling with variable settings that
can be chosen by the driver.
For: Stunning two-
styling, very watchable
fabric folding roof,
fun to drive top up
or down, fantastic grip
a glorious exhaust
the record, early in 2012 comes a lightweight R8 GT in both V10 Spyder and Coupe
limited edition versions. Only 66 are available in the UK but, and here's the
bad news, all are already sold despite no price indication. These hardcore 197mph
R8s demolish the benchmark zero to 62mph time in just 3.3 seconds.
back to the V8 Spyder. What's not to like? Running costs but for
those who can afford one, this will most definitely not be an issue. Top-up,
rear visibility is restricted and some switchgear comes from much cheaper Audi/VW
For? Stunning two-door, mid-engined styling, very watchable fabric folding roof,
fun to drive top up or down, fantastic grip and race-bred high-revving V8 with
a glorious exhaust note.
£100,000 buys you a spectacular-looking car with brilliant performance, and
one that has far greater road presence than any of the more conventional front-engined
convertibles from Aston Martin, Bentley, BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Compared
to them, the R8's price looks good value indeed. David Miles
R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI V8 | £94,950
Maximum speed: 186mph | 0-62mph: 4.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 21.2mpg
Power: 424bhp | Torque: 317lb ft | CO2 337g/km