Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus
Marque’s hottest drop-top finally joins the 600bhp club
Open-air R8 gets 600bhp
Those of a shy disposition will abhor the suggestion, but we’d wager that all but the most steadfastly introverted Autocar readers would eventually give in to the charms of Audi’s top-billing R8 Spyder: the new V10 Plus.
Lower the fabric roof and engage Dynamic driving mode along with the optional sports exhaust – your right foot will do the rest, as it involuntarily sends the most soulful series-production powerplant on sale to its ear-splitting 8700rpm finale at every opportunity. Lifting out of the throttle offers no respite, functioning as little more than a cue for the mid-mounted engine to drench the exhaust manifold with fuel. The resultant pops and bangs are decadent and disorderly.
So what, thespian antics aside, does an additional £25,000 or so over the entry-level R8 Spyder get you? Increases of 69bhp and 15lb ft, a 25kg weight saving, carbon-ceramic brakes, sports seats and no shortage of carbonfibre trim, inside and out. The biggest visual differentiator is a sweeping gurney flap on the trailing edge of the rear deck, though our test car is also presented in handsome Monterey Green (£3400).
Increased proximity to the 5.2-litre V10 Plus engine – stubbornly, wonderfully atmospheric as its rivals bolt for the turbos – is probably reason enough to buy this car, which is just as well, because it can be difficult to make a case for it as a serious tool for enthusiasts. For one, moving the rear bulkhead forward to accommodate the roof mechanism means the seats will go adequately low or they will extend adequately far back, but they will not do both. The light steering, mercilessly stiff chassis (even with our car’s optional magnetic ride set to Comfort, advisable at all times on British roads) and over-servoed brakes also mean you can’t always lean on an unsettled front axle with the confidence you’d like. That doesn’t particularly matter in the dry, where the quattro drivetrain develops almost unbreakable grip and traction, but on damp roads it can be unnerving. This car is some way off matching the richly communicative carbonfibre-tubbed chassis of the Mclaren 570S Spider.
And yet, drop-top supercars are so often bought on grounds of character before capability, and very little on the public road howls like the V10 Plus Spyder does. It’s also disturbingly fast, extremely useable and can, if you’re feeling shy, go comparatively incognito. It’s a unique proposition.
At £7000, diamond-stitched Cognac Brown interior won’t be for everyone