“All the fun and drama of the Audi R8 coupe, but in open topped Spyder form. Brilliant.”
The R8 Coupé arrived in 2007 and its more exotic Spyder relative arrived in 2010. It immediately reminded everyone what's great about the Audi R8: stunning looks, fantastic performance and ease of driving. It's a very glamorous car, adding even more exotic appeal to the already highly desirable coupé. Originally introduced with V10 power only Audi now offers the Spyder with the smaller 4.2-litre V8 engine. In either version, dropping the roof allows you to enjoy not just the ample performance, but the fantastic exhaust and engine notes.
Like its coupé relative the R8 Spyder excels at making its ample performance and poise accessible to all drivers. It's smooth and comfortable in traffic, the clutch light and the steering accurate. New for 2013 on the V8 model is the option of the S tronic dual clutch gearbox, which delivers smooth, quick gear changes and is a vast improvement over the previous automatic choice that was prone to jerkiness. It’ll reach 62mph in V10 guise in just 4.1 seconds - which is supercar fast. Grip is high and traction is fantastic thanks to Audi's quattro four-wheel drive, while the huge brakes provide superb stopping power whether you’re on road or track.
The R8 Spyder removes one of our criticisms of its coupé relative - that it's perhaps too luxurious and comfortable. The Audi R8 is an occasion, and it should sound like one. The removing of the roof - achieved by a simple button press - allows you to hear the engine far better. Pop the roof up and you can still drop the rear window to hear the glorious engine notes in full. Put it back up and, along with the thick, well insulated roof the R8 Spyder only exhibits a little more wind and road noise than its fixed-roof relative. Comfort is superb, and with the roof down it's so much easier than the coupé to get in and out of.
Quality is up to Audi's usual standard; safety too is a priority with every R8 featuring airbags and electronic driver aids including stability and traction control. Four-wheel drive means good traction even in the wet and the R8's brakes deliver huge stopping power.
The R8 Spyder is an exotic sports car and concessions to practicality are few. However, unlike most convertibles it loses little in practicality over its coupé relative, having the same small luggage space under the large front bonnet. There is some stowage in the cabin, but it's limited to small items like mobile phones or their chargers.
Value for money
Audi offers supercar pace at a price that's surprisingly affordable - particularly when you consider the price of cars that the R8's performance rivals. From 2013 the R8 Spyder gets more - and better - standard equipment, including Nappa leather seats, LED headlamps and sat-nav as standard. You need to be careful specifying the R8 though, as desirable options - such as the magnetic damper system and premium audio - are costly. The Spyder is understandably more expensive than its coupé relative, but it will hold its value better than the coupé in the future too.
No car with this level of performance is going to be cheap to run. It should be less expensive than most rivals though, with servicing at Audi, rather than exotic car brand, rates. Neither of the engines on offer is likely to get near 20mpg in everyday use and they positively devour petrol if you drive fast regularly. Road tax in both is at the most expensive level, while insurance won’t be cheap either.