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Audi R8 Spyder driven

2010-06-07 09:57
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model R8 Spyder
Engine 5.2-litre V10
Power 386kW @ 8 000r/min
Torque 530Nm @ 6 500r/min
Zero To Hundred 4.1 seconds
Top Speed 315km/h
Fuel Consumption 14.7 l/100km

JD van Zyl

It is easy to get carried away by exaggerated adjectives when describing Audi’s mid-engine R8 supercar. How else can you explain a car that is as perfectly poised, powered by an epic engine, boasts explosive speed and sports some of the most gorgeous lines in the business? But if you thought the R8 Coupe was gorgeous, then hold on tight because in Spyder form, it is simply sensational.

The R8 Coupe wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet, but four years on it inevitably isn’t quite as groundbreaking as when it was first launched. With the R8 Spyder, which incidentally is only available with the range-topping 5.2-litre V10, Audi puts a whole fresh spin on the game.

In the R8 Coupe we were seriously impressed with the Lamborghini-sourced powertrain, but in the Spyder it blows you away. Almost literally. Just take a look at its technical pedigree: 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds, maximum speed of 312km/h, maximum torque of 530Nm at 6 500 r/min and maximum power of 386kW at 8 000 r/min.

Tyson right hook

Did you read that properly? Maximum power at 8 000 r/min – this is one seriously rev-eager beast. Now imagine the Spyder’s canvas hood neatly folded away (because Audi hasn’t yet converted to folding tin-tops), blue skies above and not a single car on the perfectly straight N14 stretching ahead of you. You drop down to third gear, moving the gear stick with short, precise throws through the open aluminium gate, and then you stomp down on the sporty aluminium pedal under your right foot.

The effect is instant and about as subtle as a right hook from Mike Tyson – your hair blown back to somewhere between Upington and Olifantshoek while the nose of the R8 Spyder surges through the Northern Cape air towards Vryburg. And always that goosebump-inducing aural symphony of ten cylinders egging you on to push it a little harder still. If you thought the sound of the R8 Coupe was attractive, in the Spyder with the top down and no barrier between your ears and the outside world, it is downright intoxicating.

Despite its roof being lopped off (and several weight-saving measures to compensate for the extra burden of the folding roof), there is no traces of this R8 being compromised in any way. The Spyder still sticks to twisty roads like peanut butter to a shaggy carpet, its steering remains crisp and chatty and with what feels like an endless supply of shove under your right foot (and the help of the rear-biased Quattro system) it carves up bends with crisp precision and utter ease.

Neat Spyder features

Audi has added a few clever tricks to the Spyder to keep things interesting. The rear window for example can be lowered even with the canvas top up, so you never have to miss any of the V10 soundtrack’s glorious burbles, fizzes and pops. You can also have microphones installed on the seatbelts to improve handsfree calls while cruising open-top style.

If you really wanted to nitpick you may have a niggle with the interior which doesn’t feel quite as special as that of some of its competitors in the well-over-a-million-rand league. You also have to sacrifice the space behind the seats for the roof. This means the only room for any luggage is in the cramped nose cone which can just about accommodate two Woolworths shopping bags. Just about.

Then again, if you are looking for practicality in the R8, then you are very much barking up the wrong tree. It defies logic in very many ways. But if it’s the sheer joy of driving that you are after, then the Spyder will leave you breathless.


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