Spy­der fan?

Finds out if los­ing its roof has com­pro­mised Audi’s bril­liant R8

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Motors -

The Audi R8 Spy­der weighs in at 1,795kg. That’s 125kg heav­ier than its fixed roof sib­ling. There’s also a 40% re­duc­tion in stiff­ness which does make it­self known with the odd vi­bra­tion here, the odd wob­ble there.

The cen­tre­piece re­mains the 5.2-litre V10,

Find your­self a tun­nel, floor the ac­cel­er­a­tor – re­mem­ber­ing to stay within the speed limit, and listen with a broad smile as the en­gine roars and snarls and growls. See what I mean?

There’s no tur­bocharger, and that means no turbo lag. In­stead there’s an im­me­di­acy about the power de­liv­ery. It’s lin­ear too, build­ing steadily and pre­dictably as you squeeze the throt­tle.

The sus­pen­sion rates have been tweaked, rather than soft­ened, help­ing the soft top re­tain much, though not all, of the Coupe’s ma­jes­tic body con­trol with­out wholly sac­ri­fic­ing the R8’s im­pec­ca­ble man­ners. The ride isn’t per­fect, how­ever, with bro­ken sur­faces feel­ing marginally more in­tru­sive. It is only mar­ginal, how­ever, and only ev­i­dent if you’re driv­ing in any mode other than Com­fort.

There are three other modes –Auto, Dy­namic and In­di­vid­ual – ac­ces­si­ble via Audi’s Drive Se­lect but he best way to en­joy the Spy­der is to drop the Drive Se­lect into In­di­vid­ual, leave the sus­pen­sion in Com­fort and switch ev­ery­thing else to Dy­namic. Throt­tle re­sponse and steer­ing are sharp­ened up and, even with the sus­pen­sion at its most sup­ple, you’ll still be able to revel in what is an as­ton­ish­ing front end that bites hard as you turn in while the four-wheel-drive re­mains un­ob­tru­sive.

The cabin is im­pec­ca­bly Audi. The in­stru­ment bin­na­cle is dom­i­nated by Audi’s stun­ning vir­tual cock­pit, which puts all the cru­cial in­for­ma­tion front and cen­tre on a high-res 12.3 inch TFT dis­play.

The cen­tre of the fas­cia houses the air con con­trols which are mag­nif­i­cently sim­ple in their de­sign and func­tion and beau­ti­fully con­ceived in their con­struc­tion.

Be­hind the gear se­lec­tor is Audi’s mul­ti­me­dia in­ter­face (MMI) which uses a touch sen­si­tive jog dial to fa­cil­i­tate sat nav in­puts – you sim­ply spell out your des­ti­na­tion on top of the dial – un­less you’d rather use voice in­put, of course.

For pure driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence it would be hard to ar­gue a case for the Spy­der against its Coupe sib­ling. De­spite the nec­es­sary struc­tural changes – the in­crease in weight and loss of rigid­ity – the Spy­der’s dy­namic abil­ity is just a hair’s breadth away from the fixed roof R8 but those small mar­gins will make a big dif­fer­ence to the keen­est of driv­ers.

It’s not all about mak­ing sac­ri­fices if you opt for the Spy­der how­ever. For a start there’s the ex­hil­a­rat­ing plea­sure you’ll get from hear­ing that glo­ri­ous V10 bark and snarl and spit just be­hind your ears.

The rear wind­screen can be raised to act as a wind­break and, on the whole, it does a very ef­fec­tive job. Taller driv­ers will, of course, still en­dure a de­gree of buf­fet­ing but noth­ing that elic­its im­me­di­ate re­gret at hav­ing dropped the roof.

And don’t imag­ine that, when the el­e­ments con­spire against you, forc­ing you to jour­ney with the fab­ric roof in place, you won’t en­joy lev­els of re­fine­ment com­pa­ra­ble with the Spy­der’s fixed roof sib­ling, be­cause the cabin is just as well in­su­lated, just as cos­set­ing and just as com­fort­able.

In ev­ery re­spect it’s a win­win.

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