Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro R tronic25 | 11 | 2010Scotcars rating

    Just when it looked like Audi had achieved perfection, along comes the R8 Spyder


    In early 2007 I found my perfect car; the one I’d been waiting for over more than half a century. The hand-crafted Audi R8 took my breath away with its sleek lines, its magnificent growl from the engine bay behind me and its superb performance on the road. For two years it was all I wanted, but with it being just outside my price range at around £100,000 I had to settle for it greeting me in picture form every morning as the wallpaper on my PC. Then in 2009 along came the V10 version and that then took pride of place on the computer and also as my profile picture on Facebook.

    They’ve both been changed again with the latest creation from those nice people at Audi. Getting behind the wheel of the latest R8 V10 Spyder has left me as breathless as its wee brother did three years earlier and my new wallpaper picture reminds me every day what a fabulous car it is. It’s even more beyond my pocket with a starting price of more than £116,000 and once you add on a few toys you’ve put on a few thousand more.

    At that price you’d expect it to be good, but it’s far more than that. It is superb in every way. The engineers and designers have done a brilliant job in re-interpreting the sculpted lines of the R8, getting rid of the distinctive side blades that ran to the roof of the original and replacing them with new panels that blend with arched and vented cowls over the engine bay. Along with the lightweight fabric hood it looks – and sounds – stunning.  

    On the road

    The car is based on Audi’s five-times Le Mans-winning car and although it is twice the weight of the race car, the use of lightweight aluminium in its construction, beautiful balance with the massive 5.2 litre V10 engine in the middle of the car and the permanent Quattro four-wheel-drive means it is sensational on the road. It sticks better than superglue but the most dramatic experience is not through the seat of the pants, but through the ears as the power unit growls just behind your head.

    The optional six-speed R tronic transmission in the test car can be set in normal or sport mode and can be driven in auto setting or manually through the centre lever or at lightning-fast speeds through the paddles on the steering wheel. It’s a delight to change down and hear the car give itself an automatic blip on the throttle before it slips into the lower gear. I found myself changing down unnecessarily just for the aural experience. With ‘Launch Control’, which manages engagement of the clutch to ensure a swift take-off, acceleration is rocket-like, going from a standing start to 62mph in a whisker over four seconds and to 124 mph in just over 12secs.                                

    Comfort & Safety 

    The ride is firm rather than hard as you ease yourself into the cockpit and at every opportunity the car should be driven topless — that's the car, not the driver — for the full sports car experience. The fabric hood is very efficient, closing and opening in 19 seconds and at speeds of up to 31mph, which means you should never get wet, whatever the conditions. It folds in a Z-shape into its own storage compartment above the engine and the small heated rear glass window, which is separate from the hood, lowers into the bulkhead or can be independently raised and lowered whether the top is up or down. Even with the wind deflector in place it is still quite blowy but with the roof up, it is remarkably quiet and serene, even with the roar from the engine bay. 

    The bulkhead includes integrated rollover protection from two strong, spring-tensioned plates. Head and thorax side bags in the backrests protect the passengers from a side impact with full-size airbags ready in the event of a head-on collision. In a rear-end collision, the integral head restraint system reduces the risk of whiplash injuries. Standard equipment includes Nappa leather, superb Bang and Olufsen music system and in a world first, seatbelt-mounted microphones which make it possible to talk on the mobile phone even with the top down on the motorway.

    The only down side of this car is the lack of substantial luggage space, limited to a small compartment at the front just big enough for a weekend bag with your toothbrush and a change of pants. But why would you need anything more?  

    Should I buy one?

    Oh yes … if you can afford to be one of only 200 buyers a year. It’s a fabulous machine for dynamic driving but could you live with it all the time? Maybe just keep it to savour at the weekends?

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £116,115 / £120,920
    Engine / Power: 5204cc V10/525PS
    How fast?: 0-62mph 4.1secs,  Max 194mph
    How big/heavy?: H1244mm W1904mm L4434mm / 1725kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 20.3mpg / CO2 349g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 20/ Band M, £435
    Alternatives: Ferrari F430; Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder; Mercedes SLR McLaren Roadster

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