Now the R8 Spyder’s been given a mid-cycle refresh, we ask whether any of the former model’s appeal has been lost
When it comes to the flagbearers of motoring, few cars resonate with petrolheads as much as the Audi R8.
Since its 2007 launch, it’s sat at the very top of the Audi pyramid. Now, the German brand has thrown in cutting-edge tech and even more power. We try the top-spec Performance version in drop-top Spyder form.
For one, this update boasts more power than the car it’s replaced, but more on that further down.
You might’ve noticed there’s no ‘Plus’ model now, and that’s because the hardest-hitting R8 now takes the ‘Performance’ title, in line with the RS range.
There’s also a new grille on the front above the gaping main intake. Apparently, the new design was brought in to give it a greater resemblance to the rest of the Audi fleet.
The main event
On the topic of supercars, the numbers we’re really bothered about are the ones that regard the engine. And powering this is a 5.2-litre, naturally aspirated V10.
Biblical numbers, before you’ve even looked at the associated brake horsepower, and it’s an even more impressive unit when considering it’s among the last of its kind. Sadly, as the industry pushes on with electrification, engines like this will become a thing of the past.
In Performance spec, it has 612bhp and 580Nm of torque, put to the road through Audi’s seven-speed, dual-clutch S tronic gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive setup.
Although efficiency isn’t the natural association you’d make with this model, the V10 now comes with a petrol particulate filter for cleaner emissions.
Consumption is claimed at 20.9-21.1mpg, with a CO2 output of 302g/km, but if you’re in the market for a supercar, you wouldn’t expect much more.
How is it to drive?
When you jump in, you’ll notice there isn’t too much room – expected from a car of this calibre, but the non-convertible version is the one to go for if you want a bit more space.
Once you’re fastened in and on the move, though, your mind will be on that engine and nothing else. The throttle response is as sharp as we’ve found in any car, and produces an exhaust note that really is one of the best noises on four wheels.
It’s also addictively and ruthlessly fast, where the law allows of course. The steering is lighter than you’d expect, which maybe isn’t ideal for track days, but is better for day-to-day driving.
The suspension is unsettled at lower speeds, as you’d expect from a low-riding car on low-profile tyres, but it improves the faster you go. On the whole, the experience is a very impressive one.
It scores well on aesthetics
If the sound of that V10 doesn’t get your attention, the look of the R8 Spyder will. With a blend of carbon elements and silver accents, there was little chance our tester would be missed by others on the road.
The large air intakes give it a mean expression, while the full-length rear grille matches well with the oval-shaped exhaust pipes, another feature shared with the RS range.
On those exhausts, Audi’s removed the steering-wheel mounted control to open the exhaust valves manually – they’ll operate dependent on driving mode now.
Typical Audi interior
There’ll be no complaints on the general finish inside the new model. The heating and ventilation controls in particular, with their integrated displays work well and look great.
It could maybe have a little more flair, in terms of colour or fancy textures inside, but you know what you get with Audi interiors – understated and modern.
Again though, when it comes to supercars you’re not as bothered about those secondary bits. Of course, you’ll expect a quality that reflects the inevitably sizeable fee, but the main draw is always going to be performance.
Spec it as you please
As you’d expect from Audi, the level of standard equipment is impressive, but there are many more optional extras that’ll add a fair bit onto your final bill.
Our tester came out at £182,445, almost £20k more than the starting price of £164,790. The surplus was down to upgraded headlights, leather, suspension, door sills and contrast stitching.
It’s a substantial amount of money, on top of an already pricey motor, but the extras offer personalisation for every driver. And if you’re wanting a high-end car to take on track days, the magnetic ride suspension especially will appeal.
The last of its kind
Thanks largely to its engine, which is easily one of the best we’ve ever come across, the Audi R8 has become a motoring icon.
It’s the type we perhaps we might not see the likes of again, however, as the all-electric movement continues to gain momentum.
Of course, there’s a price to pay for getting your hands on what could be one of the last naturally aspirated V10s, but you can guarantee the Audi R8 Spyder V10 Performance will put a smile on your face.
For more on the Audi R8, find your nearest Lookers Audi site.