Audi R8 Spyder came to India in 2011 and the original model had the 4.2 FSi V8 engine. Later Audi plonked a 5.2 litre V10 in both R8 Coupe and the Spyder variants. This churns 518 bhp and has 54 kgm of torque. And it is mated to 7-Speed dual clutch S tronic transmission. The Spyder is the open-top roadster trim of the R8 range.
Designed, developed and fabricated by the GmbH subsidiary of Audi, R8 Spyder is a soft-top convertible that instantly draws attention. Removing the roof from the R8 coupe was not an easy process. A metal roof is known to give convertibles more torsional rigidity and this is why Mercedes Benz and Ferrari opt for same. But Audi goes for cloth cover on its R8 Spyder’s top. The Lamborghini-sourced 5.2 litre V10 engine gives the car staggering power and its agility can be compared to very few production models around. Like its coupe sibling, the Spyder too has a mid-engine layout and the four-wheel-drive system.
What differences did the modifications in design and removal of roof bring? After testing the R8 Coupe, Ecardlr goes for a spin in the R8 Spyder to test its skills and performance. Here’s what we found about this Audi:
Design and Engineering
It seems that the R8 Coupe was designed with clear intentions of launching a convertible trim later sometime and so the styling of the very first R8 model was beautifully resolved. The traits of a sports car are evident in both the versions. The R8 Spyder like its sibling has the wide hexagonal grille with horizontal struts. And the Audi rings are placed on the lower edge of the broad bonnet. To canalise maximum air to the radiator, the side air intakes are large. They have the LED headlamps integrated right above them. The sleek finish of the bonnet and its angle with the raked windscreen makes the car pretty aerodynamic and enhances its sporty appeal.
The R8 Spyder stands on 19 inch alloy wheels with 235/35Z R19 tyres for front and 295/30Z R19 for rear. Its assertive and athletic stance is further highlighted by the bulky wheel arches. The two-door convertible looks particularly smashing in its profile view. Now the Spyder's aluminium spaceframe has been made stronger to compensate for the removal of conventional roof but when you consider the elimination of ample aluminium from the top, the entire frame has gained only 6 kg of extra weight.
To keep the weight in control, the door skins have been fabricated with carbon-fibre instead of aluminium.
At the rear the tail lamps are also in LEDs and the in the facelifted version (the one that we got in India) round exhaust outlets have supplanted the oval units. There are new badges on the tail. The mechanism of sliding the soft top on and off is pretty neat and the R8 Spyder Quattro looks really exotic without its hood on. The rear spoiler pops out automatically at high speeds. And the twin slats on the boot give it a cutting edge design and form.
Except for the things that you find over your head in the Coupe, the Spyder’s cabin is a close replica of the one in covered R8 version. Yes, there are additional buttons on the centre console tunnel – one to operate the fabric roof and the other for a glass rear window that slides upright from and into the rear bulkhead, independently of the roof. This heated rear window also serves as a wind deflector when the hood is open.
Its monoposto is the most striking feature of Audi R8 Spyder. The flat bottomed multi-function steering wheel is covered in leather and has prominent metallic highlights on its three spokes. It looks over the sporty instrument panel that has large chrome lined dials for tacho and speedometer. The gear stick has a chunky knob and a red ring encircles its top as also the inner lining of the dials on the instrument panel.
The TFT screen for MMI is integrated below the central AC vents and displays the menu for driving modes, entertainment system and Bluetooth telephony. There is 140 watt audio system as standard and optional Bang and Olufsen to keep you entertained but what a serious driver will be more interested in is the gratifying skills of the R8 as it whizzes on the road. Ergonomic placing of all controls makes them easy to use but on the whole the layout of the dashboard and centre console is somewhat common with other Audis. Automatic climate control works well to maintain the desired temperature in the compact cabin with top down.
The two seats of this posh convertible are heated, electrically adjustable, memory optimised and well bolstered to give you an ergonomic position every time you and your co-driver go for a spin. They have contrast stitching for better aesthetics. There is no luggage shelf behind these seats and the small bulkhead at the back can only take in a couple of small bags for your weekend jaunt.
In the Action
The R8 Spyder is bit slower than the Coupe trim but with 518 bhp to unleash it is not an average performer by any standards.
As you fire up the Lamborghini sourced 5.2 litre V10 engine it sets into a refined idle with light murmuring of the engine. Rev it hard and the might of that powerful motor is manifest in its roaring sound. You can drive this convertible comfortably at slow speeds as there is ample low end torque. The peak 54 kgm comes at 6500 rpm. The power delivery is admiringly linear and this is an agile car that does the 0-100 km/hour in 4.5 seconds. And you will actually hear it going fast with all that snarl from the exhausts. But do keep an eye on the speedo or else you will not even know when it runs into three figures and causes you to break the speed limit.
If the summer sun is up or there’s a sudden downpour or you simply want to enjoy driving your glamorous car with more privacy, it takes only 19 seconds to cover the R8 Spyder with the fabric hood. You can bring it down and pull it back at speeds up to 50 km/hour. With the soft top withdrawn, the deep roar of the V8 engine is more pronounced – particularly with the segregated glass rear screen completely lowered. Furthermore, the insulation with the fabric top in place is much better than in some metal-roof cars. The automatic climate control does its job quite impressively.
The 7 speed S tronic dual clutch automatic gearbox is quick to respond to your throttle inputs both high and low. It cogs swiftly, smoothly and effectively under almost all conditions. This is especially useful in the city but equally good on a fast expressway. And if you still need to downshift more speedily, say for a quick overtake, there are the paddle shifters that give you desired results as soon as they are flicked. So the S tronic transmission in this facelifted car works even better than the old 6 speed manual ‘box. With this and the wonders of the Quattro all wheel drive system, your R8 Spyder becomes thoroughly enjoyable to drive.
Ride and Handling
Audi R8s sit low and need to be driven on some of the better paved roads if you really want to enjoy the ride. Taking the Spyder over bumps calls for caution and a skilled approach. To drive on average tarmac it is better to choose the Comfort mode – this will cause lesser vertical movement in the cabin. You can switch over to Sports mode only on flawlessly flat roads. However, minor undulations are efficiently absorbed by the R8.
The Quattro four-wheel-drive deserves a credit for giving a good grip to this convertible despite its mid-engine layout. Along with this, the natural balance of front to rear gives it the ability to go well around the bends. If you enter a corner rapidly with a trailing throttle, the Spyder softly pushes its nose wide but instead of sliding off into the closest hedge a slight lift of that throttle helps in tightening the line significantly. With the Quattro system on, a slight jab of the throttle in the same direction re-distributes the power to the rear to re-store the vehicle’s neutral balance and re-gain the front-end grip. If it falls into oversteer, the transition is even faster than in the V10 Coupe. The steering wheel weighs up appropriately with speed in the Spyder – a trait that is also seen in its coupe sibling. The brake bite too is admirable and it stops accurately from as high as 80 km/hour in 2.5 seconds.
There was more body roll in this car as compared to the Coupe version but the rate is limited and it is not excessive.
This is not really a parameter to judge the efficiency of a sports car but for the records it is 3.5 km/litre in the city and 5 km/litre on the highways. And if you are driving uphill, expect even less. So get that tank filled up before setting out even for a short trip.
When it comes to nimbleness and poise, the R8 Coupe wins over the Spyder by a slight margin but the convertible is still wonderful. It has the same thrilling V10 engine and performs beautifully if it is on a good road. The fabric hood is brilliant and the handling of this car supported by all that jazzy hardware and Quattro system is enjoyable.
What impresses more is that even after taking down the metal roof, the torsional rigidity has not decreased much and the revamped suspension settings have helped in retaining the driving traits of the coupe trim intact. In a nutshell, the R8 Spyder may not be an economical and practical choice in a developing economy but it does everything that it was designed to do and is one of the finest super cars around the world.
Audi R8 V10 Spyder is priced at Rs. 2.14 crore (ex showroom price Delhi)
Value for Money: 3/5