The R8 is a top-tier driving experience. Audi's ultimate sports car in a drop-top variation. Read our R8 Spyder review!
Exquisite V10 engine
Top-drawer interior cabin
Not as practical as the Porsche 911
The Audi R8 Spyder is a striking drop-top sports car with an impeccable V10 engine to match.
Basically the Cabriolet version of the Audi R8 Coupe, the R8 Spyder shares the same naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine as it’s hard-top sibling, as well as the highly acclaimed Lamborghini Huracan.
The mid-engined V10 Spyder is Audi’s quickest model to date and the everyday supercar has acquired more power over the years. Since the R8 Spyder’s recent makeover in 2019, the new car now has two upgraded power outputs: the 562bhp standard or the 612bhp Performance version.
Even the standard supercar has enough bite to keep up with the more expensive McLaren 570S Spider and Lamborghini Huracan. Other rivals also include some of the best luxury cars like the impressive Mercedes-AMG GT Convertible and the alluring Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet.
The two-door, speed demon combines breathtaking performance with a sophisticated interior to reinforce its status as one of the best affordable sports cars on offer. The R8 Spyder’s cabin is extremely well-built and the level of meticulous detail produced from the Audi engineers has to be admired and applauded.
If you don’t fancy the hairdryer treatment from gale-force winds, the fabric roof does a brilliant job of muting wind and tyre noise at high speeds. The only downfall is the muffling sound of the high-revving V10 engine. In the unlikelihood of a scorching day, you can fold the roof down in about 20 seconds at a speed of up to 31mph. The R8 Spyder truly is one of the best convertible cars in the business
Although the Audi R8 lacks a central MMI infotainment screen, it’s certainly not short on cutting edge technology. Audi’s intuitive 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit sits behind the 3-spoke leather steering wheel and can easily be controlled via a slick rotary dial on the central console or a set of nifty shortcut buttons on the steering wheel.
The optional (£1750) 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system is the cherry on top of the cake if you want a true, pulsating sports car experience. This can be tested out by playing Audi’s very own V10 soundtrack that is sure to get the blood pumping.
Audi R8 Spyder
The entry-level Audi R8 V10’s rear-wheel drive powertrain delivers R8 performance from a different perspective. The rapid sports car isn’t shy on premium features - as you’d expect from a hefty price tag like that. You’ll get 19” aluminium forged wheels in high sheen, matt titanium. You’ll also get the luxury of Alcantara and leather R8 sport seats, unique body-colour sideblades, an exterior styling pack in high gloss black and a reversing camera to guide you into tight spots.
Audi V10 Performance
With a ferocious output of 612bhp, the Audi R8 V10 Performance model is the most powerful Audi model yet. In addition to the V10 Quattro, the V10 Performance trim is graced with 20-inch ‘5-V spoke Evo’ alloy wheels, carbon fibre exterior styling, automatic high-beam assist, ceramic brakes with silver brake calipers, sporty R8 bucket seats in Fine Nappa leather and a flat-bottomed, multi-functional, perforated performance leather steering wheel with 3 operating satellites.
Audi V10 Performance Carbon Black
The range-topping V10 Performance Carbon Black trim comes with captivating 20-inch alloy wheels in gloss anthracite black, an extended black styling pack including the Audi emblem and badges and ceramic brakes with electric red brake calipers. Audi’s Magnetic Ride has to be the stand-out feature on this exhilarating spec. It allows the driver to adjust the firmness of the adaptive dampers through an electronically charged magnetic fluid within the shock absorbers.
There have been some big exterior changes with the second generation of the R8 Spyder.
The new R8 Spyder dons the same iconic air intakes behind each door as the old car, but the new front bumper comes with plenty of angular creases and indents that only enhance its sporty appearance.
The three new slots above the single-frame radiator grille reinforce Audi’s detailed craftsmanship and pays tribute to the famous quattro rally car of the ’80s.
The new model boasts a set of road-hugging side skirts that you’ll have to be cautious of when ploughing over speed bumps.
At the back, the moneymaker certainly provides the goods. The racing-car-infused diffuser and vast monobrow grille complement the R8 Spyder’s ethos. Opt for the performance spec and the fixed carbon spoiler provides an additional touch of class.
The R8 Spyder’s powerhouse engine is not for the faint-hearted. Both potent and dynamic, this supercar is bound to ruffle a few feathers. Saying that, alternatives like the McLaren 570S and Porsche 911 Turbo feel slightly more involved.
Engine and Performance
Both versions of the R8 Spyder come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a grippy all-wheel drive system. The V10 engine is naturally aspirated, rather than turbocharged, which ensures the agile convertible responds quickly and flies through the rev range.
The 5.2-litre (562bhp) FSI V10 quattro 2dr S Tronic petrol engine is reminiscent of that in the R8 Coupe. The gearbox is smooth and responsive and offers you the platform to change gears manually via the wheel-mounted paddles. If you choose to leave the R8 Spyder in auto mode, the changes are just as smooth, but if you hit traffic in town the ride can feel rather jerky at low speeds.
Ramp up the volume with the 5.2-litre (612bhp) Performance 5.2 FSI V10 quattro Performance 2dr S Tronic and it’s sure to lift the hairs on the back of your neck. Whichever engine you choose, you better strap yourself in.
The official 0-62mph for the ‘entry-level’ standard R8 Spyder is a frighteningly quick 3.5 seconds. Put the standard Spyder to the test and you’ll manage to reach a top speed of 200mph which is on par with the Lamborghini Huracan and Porsche 911 Turbo.
Opt for the more potent Performance trim and you’ll shave off 0.2 seconds (3.3s) getting up to 62mph. Stretch its legs and the Performance spec will max out at an electrifying 205mph.
The versatile R8 Spyder is available in four driving modes - Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual - allowing you to alter the cars’ responses depending on the nature of your journey.
The drive mode button on the steering wheel allows you to select either Comfort or Dynamic modes. Comfort mode is the preferred option when dotting around town in stop and start traffic, whereas, Dynamic mode unleashes the Spyder’s true capabilities. On top of the purring engine, you’ll feel a stiffened ride and notice the gear sticks holding for longer. If your needs are still unsatisfied, you can activate the car’s launch control to see it in full flight.
The R8 Spyder is particularly impressive through bends thanks to its well-weighted steering and abundant grip. However, the car enthusiasts out there will feel that the Spyder doesn’t communicate as well as the Porsche 911 Turbo and the McLaren 570S.
Nonetheless, the AWD system feels composed in all conditions, while the brakes are incredibly sharp - as they have to be. You’ve got the option to upgrade to ceramic brakes if you choose the top-tier Performance model.
The standard Sport suspension feels appropriate for a car of this stature. It’s the most comfortable option and makes the Spyder a more appealing everyday car. Opt for the stiffer sprung Performance version and you’ll have adaptive dampers as an option.