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PARKED at the bot­tom of the lo­cal Audi price list is “R8 Spy­der”, which is ac­tu­ally po­si­tioned at the top of the au­tomaker’s model range.

Sim­i­larly, the kind of driver who can af­ford one has prob­a­bly reached the top of the cor­po­rate totem pole and is re­lax­ing in his pent­house at the high­est point of a free­hold ivory tower.

For the driver who lives in

a lease­hold condo and is still climb­ing the ca­reer lad­der quickly, Audi has a ready al­ter­na­tive to the R8 Spy­der – the TT Road­ster, which is less spec­tac­u­lar but still sensational.

It costs a quar­ter-mil­lion bucks, but the buyer would “save” more than $600,000 be­cause he didn’t/couldn’t buy the R8 Spy­der in­stead.

The TT Road­ster de­liv­ers more bang for the buck, too. Math­e­mat­i­cally, Audi charges $1106 for ev­ery horse­power and $687 for ev­ery New­ton­metre pro­vided by the 2-litre con­vert­ible, com­pared to $1605 for ev­ery hp and Nm de­vel­oped by the 5.2-litre R8.

The TT’s four cylin­ders are also more cost-ef­fec­tive at $63,000 a pop, ver­sus $86,000 for each of the R8’s ten cylin­ders. And the lat­ter’s 5.2-litre en­gine ca­pac­ity at­tracts road tax that is al­most five times more than for the other Audi – $5834 ver­sus $1194. Us­ing our roads in the Road­ster is so much cheaper than hit­ting them in the Spy­der. Thanks to the TT’s much smaller mo­tor and the won­ders of mod­ern tur­bocharg­ing, it is also a far more ef­fi­cient burner of fuel than its nat­u­rally

as­pi­rated big­ger brother, which thrives on revs and there­fore needs plenty of petrol to quench its thirst. It also prefers 98-oc­tane, un­like the TT which ac­cepts lower-priced RON 95.

Burn­ing rub­ber is more ef­fi­cient in the TT, too. It has quat­tro all-wheel-drive, like the R8, but plays a dif­fer­ent paw game.

Over the same patch of tar­mac, the TT would nip and zip, whereas the R8 would bite much harder, grip ever tighter and rip along so rapidly that the TT sud­denly seems no faster than the MRT.

The Road­ster feels lighter on its treaded 17-inch feet, though. The car is lighter than the other con­vert­ible, by about 300kg (equiv­a­lent to hav­ing three co-driv­ers on board, two of whom are hang­ing onto the rollover bars of the com­pact twoseater), and quite a bit smaller.

These ad­van­ta­geous at­tributes help the TT to han­dle (or mis­han­dle) cor­ners with gusto and ma­noeu­vre through a se­ries of road bends with bravado. Tack­ling cor­ners and ma­noeu­vring through bends in the R8 in­volve brav­ery, too, al­beit from the driver rather than the ve­hi­cle. Peo­ple who are braver than my per­sona be­hind the wheel might re­port, after driv­ing the thing to within an inch of its life in the fast lane, that the R8 is su­per­car­su­per and as sharp as a scalpel.

To this con­ser­va­tive driver who isn’t par­tic­u­larly brave, the Audi is a rad­i­cal jab of high per­for­mance that pum­mels the streets of Sin­ga­pore into sub­mis­sion and punches V10 holes in the ar­gu­ment that Ital­ians craft su­pe­rior su­per­cars than Ger­mans.

Iron­i­cally, there’s some Lam­borgh­ini in the Audi, whose ex­cit­ing en­gine is shared with the Lambo Hu­ra­can Spy­der.

Nat­u­rally, the Ital­ian ma­chine of­fers even more power and glory, since it’s the ex­ot­icar cousin with pres­ti­gious Rag­ing Bull em­blems and a price tag of over one mil­lion dol­lars.

In­ci­den­tally, the 10-pot en­gine has a (Green) party trick – de­ac­ti­vat­ing one cylin­der bank at low to in­ter­me­di­ate load. Op­er­at­ing as a sort of 5-cylin­der doesn’t turn the R8 into an R4 with dou­ble the fuel econ­omy, but it does bring the car “closer” to the 4-cylin­der TT.

The two sib­lings re­main far apart in terms of styling.

One has a lit­tle en­gine placed ahead of the front bulk­head, while the other has a mas­sive en­gine mounted be­hind the rear bulk­head. One has nu­mer­ous slats in the nose, while the other has hon­ey­comb vents ev­ery­where. One squats on the as­phalt, while the other sits on


it and has a roofline which lies 111mm nearer to the black­top.

One is a clean chunk of Ve­gas Yel­low and the other is a busy wedge of Ara Blue. Their Audi-fam­ily de­sign links are limited to the four rings on the bon­net, the sil­ver fuel cap and the bril­liant LED head­lights.

There’s a greater and con­se­quently costlier scope of cus­tomi­sa­tion avail­able for the R8, rang­ing from glossy car­bon el­e­ments to a $45,000 set of car­bon-ce­ramic brakes, which cost just a bit more than the fancy-up­hol­stery op­tion.

Free of charge is the choice of four colours – red, brown and two shades of black – for the R8’s hood. The TT’s soft-top can be ei­ther black or grey.

With the fab­ric canopies erected over­head, oc­cu­pants would be bet­ter in­su­lated/ pro­tected from the el­e­ments and traf­fic dis­tur­bances in the R8, which con­verts into a more co­cooned coupe than the TT.

The TT’s top has a thick fleece layer on the in­ner lin­ing and a snug fit over the wind­screen frame, thereby pro­vid­ing good in­su­la­tion/pro­tec­tion, but it isn’t as good as the R8’s ex­cel­lent cloth canopy.

The R8’s con­ver­sion be­tween hooded and al­fresco is the­atri­cal, too. It’s like Iron Man per­form­ing a bal­let in The Nutcracker – dra­matic, ro­botic and over the top.

The fan­tas­tic elec­tro­hy­draulic per­for­mance takes 20 sec­onds, which is twice as long as the time taken by the TT con­vert­ible to con­vert.

Both rides can drop/de­ploy their roofs on the move at speeds of up to 50km/h, which is use­ful if the weather changes or the driver wants to mul­ti­task for what­ever rea­son.

In open-air con­fig­u­ra­tion, the two Audis trans­port the driver and pas­sen­ger di­rectly into the heart of the ac­tion. The en­gine sounds and ex­haust notes are heard so clearly (es­pe­cially with the drive se­lect in Dy­namic mode) , the sur­round­ings be­come so in­ter­est­ing, while bus fumes and bird dung have never been more threat­en­ing. The 540hp/540Nm Spy­der is sig­nif­i­cantly more ac­tion­packed than the 230hp/370Nm Road­ster, of course. Your hairdo gets messed up in ei­ther top­less

ve­hi­cle, but the R8 does it like a pow­er­ful lo­calised cy­clone un­der your com­puter-con­trol and the TT does it like a high-power hairdryer made in Ger­many. The R8 storms from 0 to 100km/h in 3.6 sec­onds. The TT turbo-charges from 0 to 100km/h in 5.6 sec­onds. Both cars use du­al­clutch gear­boxes with light­ningquick gearshifts, but the R8’s 7-speeder adds thun­der­strikes to the well-greased light­ning.

Restyling your hairstyle en route is fun in the TT Road­ster and huge fun in the R8 Spy­der.

You could man­age the air stream/tur­bu­lence with the pow­ered win­dows (the R8 is equipped with a third, rear pane that func­tions as a wind de­flec­tor and noise bar­rier), or sim­ply sit lower/higher in your seat, or


maybe ad­just your head­gear.

Both cock­pits are Audi’s “vir­tual” af­fairs with a 12.3-inch dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter. The in­fo­graph­ics are high-res and the in­fo­tain­ment func­tions are low-stress. The au­to­matic air- con­di­tion­ing is very ef­fec­tive in both cab­ins (en­closed or ex­posed), com­plete with ex­tremely at­trac­tive con­trols.

All the seats are splen­did – sup­port­ive, sporty-look­ing and cov­ered in com­fort­able leather.


Both dash­boards are beau­ti­fully built, but the R8’s is prob­a­bly more beau­ti­ful to the petrol­head.

These are two-seaters which are meant to be self­ish rather than spa­cious, but you can stash your phone, wal­let and ran­dom loose items here and there. Stow­ing two or three back­packs is easy with the TT Road­ster, which has a 280-litre boot that doesn’t lose pre­cious ca­pac­ity to the roof sys­tem, but it’ll be dif­fi­cult squeez­ing the same back­packs into the R8’s over­sized “glove­box” un­der the bon­net.

Any­way, the things you bring along are much less im­por­tant than the thrills you feel with the TT Road­ster and R8 Spy­der. Go for a spin in Audi’s divine wind turbines and get blown away in won­der­ful ways.

Pho­tos Ya n g

Story David Ting

If TT cockpit is the con­trol room of an oil-fired power sta­tion, R8 cockpit (top) con­trols a nu­clear power plant, with ex­tra fea­tures and ad­di­tional hot keys.

R8 Spy­der’s soft-top op­er­a­tion is slower than TT Road­ster’s but more showy, with much bet­ter in­su­la­tion against the out­side whirl.

MAY 2018

R8 Spy­der out­guns TT Road­ster in ev­ery per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ter, but the lat­ter gives more bang for the buck and is as ef­fi­cient as it is ef­fer­ves­cent.

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