AUDI R8 V10 SPY­DER

Open up, let go!

Driven - - Contents - Re­port & Images © BERNIE HELLBERG

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.

LAST WORD

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.

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