Audi R8 V8 Spyder: Road test

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Audi R8 V8 Spyder
In my view, there is no doubt that Audi's ground-breaking, mid-engined R8 supercar makes a great convertible.

Launched last year, with a 5.2-litre V10 power, the R8 Spyder is brilliant, as it almost delivers as many driving thrills as the original hard-top model.

The lightweight hood itself is a work of genius, as you can go from closed to open in just 19 seconds and this can be done at speeds of up to 31mph. The glass rear screen can also be raised, even with the hood down, to provide an excellent wind block.

This year, the convertible R8 became available with the smaller 4.2-litre V8 engine. So, when Audi offered me the chance to spend a week with the cheaper £93,950 R8 Spyder, I was keen to see whether this is a worthy version of the Audi supercar.

Audi R8 V8 Spyder
On the outside, you have to look hard for the changes between V8 and V10 versions of the R8 Spyder, which is good, as the overall design is both distinctive and gorgeous. The only changes are the lack of a chromed grille at the front, different alloy wheels and the disappearance of the V10 badge on the side.

Whilst at the back, there are now two sets of twin pipes instead of the V10's twin oval exhausts.

Inside, I couldn't spot any obvious differences between the interiors of the V8 and V10 Spyders. There is perhaps too much switchgear from lesser Audis, but like the rest of the range, it is beautifully finished and well laid out.

The R8's driving position is also excellent and the seats are really comfortable. My only criticism is that with the hood up, the R8's interior can feel a bit cramped and claustrophobic.

The Audi's V8 is rated at 424bhp, with torque of 317lb ft, which equals a 0-60mph time of just 4.8 seconds and a licence-losing top speed of 186mph.

Audi R8 V8 Spyder
Just don't mention the Combined fuel consumption of 19.6mpg, or the C02 emissions of 337g/km. Still, the target buyer of this car is unlikely to worry about these costs.

It might be seven-tenths slower to 60mph than the V10 version, but it certainly doesn't feel it, as the R8's acceleration is memorable. The soundtrack from that V8 is unforgettable too, especially with the hood down - it just encourages you to drive harder.

Our test car was fitted with the standard slotted-gate, six-speed manual transmission which makes a fantastic click-clack sound as you work your way through the precise box. R-Tronic semi-automatic transmission is available as an option, but having tried it on the bigger V10, I can't recommend it, as it feels jerky and unsettled at low speed.

Show the Audi a corner and the V8 Spyder, like all the other R8 models, feels perfectly balanced - even without a roof. Add in responsive steering and plenty of grip from the Quattro four-wheel drive system and I dare anyone not to be impressed by how secure and how fast the V8 Spyder feels on the road.

Audi R8 V8 SpyderStandard equipment includes remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric windows, ABS, driver and passenger airbags.

The CD player sounds good; you can also specify £255 of Audi Music Interface (AMI) like this test car to play your iPod. It was also fitted with £1,800 of optional DVD-based satellite navigation system.

So, if you're a lottery winner or someone in the lucky position to be in the market for a new convertible supercar, should you go for the V8 or V10 version of the R8 Spyder? In my opinion, the V8 is the sweeter drive; it still looks as fantastic and you won't notice any differences in performance in the real world. Now, where is that lottery ticket?

Audi R8 V8 Spyder

Audi R8 V8 Spyder