Audi R8 GT Spyder: First drive

We at Autoblog have always liked Audi's supercar, the R8. Whether in V8 or V10 forms, its easy-going nature almost seems at odds with the performance available.

One thing that we felt Audi could do though is to turn up the wick and produce a more focused, more powerful version of the car. Ingolstadt responded with the 560ps V10 GT Coupe of which a handful made it to UK shores, to no doubt happy owners.
For those who are in the fortunate position of being in the market for a supercar but missed out on bagging a GT Coupe, Audi has come up with a soft-top solution in the form of a Spyder version of the GT.

You'd better like wind in your hair and get in quick, as of the 333 produced worldwide, just 43 are coming to the UK and just a couple of these remain unsold.

So, what do you get for the £158,145 list price? Well like the coupe before it, the emphasis of the R8 GT is on lightness and more power. The GT might have lost its roof, but don't think it has put on weight. Those clever engineers from Germany have managed to trim a full 85kg from the standard V10 Roadster's weight and drops to 1,640kg.

You'll be able to spot the GT version of the R8 V10 Spyder by the contrasting titanium grey trim elements, a new front splitter with a dual lip, the neat flicks at the side of the front bumper designed to aid airflow over the Audi's body, the red GT badges, the 19-inch grey five-spoke alloys and different wing mirrors.

At the back, there are round exhaust tail pipes, an enlarged diffuser, dark LED rear lights and a fixed rear spoiler.

Inside, the changes for the R8 GT Spyder are as noticeable as the exterior and feel equally special. Highlights include more supportive sports seats and GT branded floor mats. There's suede trim for the flat-bottomed steering wheel, carbon fibre trim on the centre console and a special carbon and alloy gear knob for the auto box which also has the car's unique production number on it.

It might be a lightweight version of the R8 Spyder, but don't go thinking that it isn't well equipped. Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, DVD-based sat-nav, and a driver's information system with built-in lap timer and Bluetooth.

The Spyder version of the R8 GT is also available with the punchy Bang & Olufsen sound system as a no-cost option which wasn't available on the coupe.

Underneath the svelte bodywork, there's also lowered stiffened suspension and carbon-ceramic brakes as standard.

So what's the R8 GT Spyder like to drive? Well, we were lucky enough to drive the GT Coupe and Roadster back to back. The 65kg extra weight for losing the roof is noticeable, but this doesn't spoil the driving thrills of this special edition, open-top supercar.

The GT Spyder has the same forgiving handling as the rest of the R8 range. There's some understeer in the slower corners, but this can be dialed-out with careful use of the throttle. Yes, it is stiffer, but there's still plenty of grip and composure. The steering is also well-weighted with plenty of feel.

The changes over the standard car are shown best on the track, where the extra power higher up the rev-range helps the R8 GT Spyder to digest large areas of the track very easily.

Thankfully, like the standard V10 Spyder, apart from the extra weight there are virtually no compromises for losing the roof. In fact, the lack of a roof means you can enjoy more of the howling soundtrack of the V10.

So if you've got almost £160,000 should you snap up one of these? Yes, as the GT improves on the already excellent and capable V10 Spyder with few compromises, and with so few available it is likely to be a sound investment.

However, it is not quite perfect, we've never been fans of the robotised manual R-tronic gearbox in the R8 and it feels slow-witted and never smooth in the GT. Why can't the open-gated six-speed manual be offered as an option?

Audi R8 GT Spyder
See Gallery
Audi R8 GT Spyder: First drive
Read Full Story Click here to comment