AUDI R8 V10 SPYDER
Open up, let go!
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS AN ALL-ROUNDER SUPERCAR? CAN THE JACK OF ALL TRADES BE MASTER OF SOME? THE ANSWER IS AN UNEQUIVOCAL YES. AND NO. SO SAYS BERNIE HELLBERG WHO SPENT A WEEK DRIVING THIS SUNBEAM YELLOW FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH.
We all love looking at them, the Audis, the Porsche, Lamborghinis. We pine after them, dream about them, want them. But do we truly know what it’s like to live with a supercar, or is it a dream best deferred? The answer lies in the tencylinder, carbon-and-aluminium Audi R8 V10 Spyder.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
As a cargo haulier or people mover, the R8 is not a great choice. Planning on doing groceries shopping soon? Anything more than two bags, if you’re two-up in the car, just isn’t going to happen.
As a convertible sports car, however, the R8 is amazing, and not just because of its mid-engine balance and 397 kW and 540 Nm of torque on tap. Also not because of its 3.6-second 0-100 km/h time, or even its racing pedigree. In fact, it’s amazing because of everything else.
First, you have to look at it, because unlike the previous R8 Spyder, this one looks great whether the top is up or down. Add to the already handsome exterior styling, a brilliant yellow paint job, a carbon-laced and diamond-stitched leather interior, and the carbon exterior package, and it turns you on before you get to return the favour.
A sports car, and especially a super sports car, should handle well, and the R8 Spyder does that incredibly well. For street use, its edge is no less razor-sharp than that of its hardtop alternative, the R8 coupé. And no matter what top your R8 has, it’s never going to be eking out the last tenth of a second for the win at any kind of street racing event.
But good handling and plenty of power are just the price of entry in the upper echelon of the sporting car world.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
It might sound like the friendly folk at Audi South Africa have managed to
DESPITE ITS CLOSE AFFILIATION WITH THE LAMBORGHINI HURACÁN – ITSELF A MANIC MACHINE THAT’S DESIGNED TO SCRATCH ADOLESCENT ITCHES – THE R8 SPYDER IS THE OPEN-TOP SUPERCAR FOR ADULTS.
embed their marketing speak in my brain, but with the top down, the 5.2-litre V10’s roaring crescendo rises behind you, and the road that once formed the dividing line between you and your machine, blurs a little at first, then disappears altogether.
The car responds, leaps, grunts, glides, taking you with it into the vast expanse of tarmac ahead. You’re nothing more than a willing participant, you’re going along for the ride, for the sheer joy of it.
The R8 deserves to be free on an open playground, not just for the R8 Spyder’s raucous V10 and mid-engine balance, but also for the drop top’s slower-paced, scenic side.
Put the drive mode selector in Comfort (or Auto, if you must), lean the seat back (at least as far back as your height will allow), and look around. There’s more to life than chequered flags and finish lines.
Impeccable ride quality and a stunning infotainment system mounted exclusively in front of the driver– Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – create a near-perfect environment from where you can simply enjoy the drive. Even with the top down, there is surprisingly little wind buffeting, provided you keep the windows up, of course.
MASTER OF SOME
Despite its close affiliation with the Lamborghini Huracán – itself a manic machine that’s designed to scratch adolescent itches – the R8 Spyder is the open-top supercar for adults. Don’t mistake that for it being boring, though, it’s exciting for what it intends to be; there are no pretences here. Out there are enough examples of 1,000 Nm hypercars and track-focused machines to keep you lusting after your next speed fix. In here you can focus on exactly what makes this car so special: it succeeds exceedingly well at what it was made for– being a car.
I’ve spent my fair share of long-distance drives in other supercars to know that those hundreds of kilometres covered in a day are often more of a curse than a blessing. Where the Italians, among others, are compelled by blood to wear this pain as a badge of honour, the R8 Spyder skips all that and goes straight to being a good car as well as a supercar.
Can you back off and enjoy the cruise in a hard-topped R8 or any other enclosed supercar? Sure. Will it be fun? Most definitely. Are there other, more exotic supercars with top-down ability that you could pick up if you’re so inclined?
Of course there are. However, nothing will match the relaxed pleasure of slowly slipping the R8 Spyder’s robotic top back, taking in the purr of the V10 behind you, smiling at the person in the passenger seat, and just enjoying the drive.