Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Manual

March 2010

picture of car from the front

R8 body looks great with the roof dropped

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 5Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 2Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 3Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 10Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Superb styling
  • Astonishing performance from V10 engine
  • Unshakeable Quattro traction
  • High quality interior material and finish

Gripes

  • Visibility limited with roof in place
  • Gated manual gearbox takes time to master
  • Storage space is lacking
  • Marginally less interior refinement than the coupe

Following the original 4.2-litre and the later 5.2-litre versions comes the Spyder convertible version of the Audi R8 super car. Designed to fuse the road going prowess of the coupe models with the style and open air driving experience of a soft-top, the R8 Spyder builds on the impressive reputation of the coupe models.

The third model in the Audi R8 range is the first to feature a folding roof, allowing occupants to enjoy the open air experience alongside the power and poise that the R8 has become noted for. Audi has opted for a canvas roof in order to save weight and to give the model a more timeless look, however the cutting edge styling gives the model a concept car appeal.

Audi uses the same aluminium space frame construction process as with the Coupes but compliments it with additional carbon fibre panels at the rear, meaning the Spyder weighs a mere 100kg more than the V10 Coupe despite the additional weight of the roof motors and chassis strengthening. The roof itself opens and closes in 19 seconds and at up to 31mph.

The Spyder is equipped with the 5.2-litre V10 engine rather than the 4.2-litre V8 unit of the original model, giving it additional power and performance. The Quattro four-wheel drive system with a rear wheel bias is present and a choice of two transmissions, the six-speed automated manual R-tronic or six-speed manual, is available.

To match the high performance and additional glamour if the soft-top, a range of high-end equipment is standard including Audi's Magnetic Ride suspension, seat belt mounted microphones for the Bluetooth system, Bang and Olufsen sound system, sat-nav and a heated and independently lowered rear window.

Our verdict on the Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Manual

Removing the roof has failed to detract from the R8 V10's driving appeal while performing the difficult task of adding to the Coupe model's stratospheric street cred. Although it loses a small amount of the little practicality it retains the tractable nature particularly in manual form, while the potential for boulevard cruising is massively increased. Quality is exceptional and there's performance to match.

Costs
Costs rating 2

The most expensive version of the most expensive model in the premium Audi line-up is sure to come with significant running costs. Insurance premiums will be at the top of the scale and the V10 engine has a terrific thirst. At least four-wheel drive helps to spread tyre wear a little.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 3

The only exterior luggage compartment is the space in the R8's nose with the same 100 litre capacity as the coupe versions. Deep rather than wide, it will accept a couple of soft overnight bags. The space behind the seats present in the Coupes is gone, limiting internal storage to a decent size glovebox, shallow door pockets and a pair of cubby holes between the seats.

picture of car from the rear

R8 Spyder is unmistakable from the rear

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 10

The R8 Spyder's controls adhere to traditional norms and will be familiar to Audi drivers. The only adaptations fro the R8 Coupe models are the roof and rear window controls, which are conveniently located for ease of use. The large colour display projects information with clarity as the brightly lit and stylish dials in the instrument binnacle. The ventilation and audio systems are controlled using a neat interface that's simple to master. The steering lightens at speed for ease of use and although the gearshift gate of the manual takes a little time to master, it does prevent mistakes.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

Supportive seats, a comfortable and adjustable driving position and a surprisingly spacious cabin all contribute to a pleasant driving experience. When you're not pushing the car hard, wind, road and engine noise is pleasingly minimal, and the optional Sports suspension does an excellent job of soaking up road imperfections, although the adaptable Magnetic Ride system is standard fit. There's a little more road noise in the cabin thanks to the canvas roof, but the ability to drop the rear window independently means that can be drowned out with the sumptuous engine note.

Car security
Security Rating 7

An alarm with immobiliser, central locking, lockable glovebox and valet key are to expected on a car this expensive, however the canvas roof will never be as secure as a hard top even if a thick and sturdy affair.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

The Quattro four-wheel drive system is a real benefit in terms of traction, but to be on the safe side ESP with traction control, anti-slip regulator and a full compliment of braking aids are standard. Tyre pressure monitoring is also present as are driver and passenger front and side airbags.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 9

Losing the roof has not hampered the R8 V10 on the road at all. Still manageable around town thanks to adaptive steering and a tractable low speed nature, particularly with the manual gearbox, it's on the open road that the performance of the V10 engine and tremendous grip offered by the rear biased four-wheel drive system come into their own. Superbly responsive in terms of throttle, brake and steering input, it's a pleasure to drive at speed. The body feels taught and rigid even with the roof down while the six speed manual gearbox is perfect for keen drivers, although the important second to third gear change can be a little hesitant owing to the gate.

picture of car interior

Luxurious interior is driver focussed

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 1

With only two seats and very limited storage the R8 Spyder will not serve as a family vehicle. It is most definitely a choice for mote mature pairings although the front passenger airbag can be deactivated and Isofix points are present for a chid seat.

First car appeal
First car Rating 0

The R8 Spyder is considerably too powerful and expensive to make sense as a first car choice.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 10

The R8 remains one of the most desirable cars money can buy thanks to its distinctive styling, great performance and Audi's constantly rising reputation. The Spyder boasts even more appeal thanks to its folding roof and the fact that it's initially only available with the most powerful engine option. Quality is excellent, with the car finished impeccably inside and out.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Being able to lower the roof naturally improves the Audi R8's accessibility, but it remains a low car with a low-slung seating position, making it a little difficult to exit with grace. Long doors offer a very wide portal however, and the small front boot is simple to access.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

A standard fit Bang and Olufsen sound system offers superb sound quality with 12 speakers filing the relatively compact cabin. Audi's integrated sat-nav, audio, multimedia and climate control interface is tried and tested and intuitive to operate. Sat-nav is standard, although the navigation can be a touch slow at times. An upgrade to the advanced system on the new A8 would be welcome. The Bluetooth mobile phone preparation also comes with microphones embedded in the seatbelt, meaning they still work with the roof down even at speed.

picture of car in detail

R8 badge remains one of the most desirable

Colours and trim

Bold whites and reds sit along side more discreet blacks, greys, blues, browns and silvers in the Audi R8 Spyder colour options chart, but the model's deliberately eye catching exterior design means there's little chance of shying away behind the wheel regardless of colour. LED lighting attracts further attention. Inside, leather is naturally the standard finish with or without the sports seat option, and even the dashboard gets a leather lining. Carbon fibre and aluminium trim is present and cutting edge, while the steering wheel and gear knob can also be finished with Suede. A range of roof colours broadens the options.

Parking

The R8's parking sensors are absolutely essential, thanks in part to the car's deceptive overhangs, low ride height and poor rear three-quarter vision. The former two attributes are to be expected with such a car, but the over the shoulder view is disappointing. Dropping the roof helps a little, but it's still difficult to gauge the where-abouts of the rear end. The R8's wide stance is rarely an issue, and the car's power steering offers plenty of low speed assistance.

Spare wheel

Standard fit is a 'tyre mobility system' or mousse inflation kit.

 

Range information

Petrol engine option - 4.2-litre (414bhp); 5.2-litre (518bhp) .Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed R-tronic sequential manual gearbox. Trim levels; Coupe, Spyder, optional equipment available.

 

Alternative cars

Aston Martin DB9 Volante Super stylish and great V12 performance

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet Technically superb but less presence

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder Masses of flair and superb noise

Ferrari California High performance drop top has subtler styling



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March 2010