Audi’s R8 is lauded as the perfect supercar—a high-performance machine that you can easily use every day as well. And that has been true through the car’s evolution, from its original V8 roots to the second-generation V10 that came out last year. This year, the next-generation R8 V10, called the Spyder, comes without a top.
The car’s entire aluminium carbon-fibre hybrid space frame has been strengthened to compensate for the lack of a solid roof. Despite the extra reinforcements used in the convertible’s body, however, it weighs 1,720kg, which is just 80kg more than the standard coupé.
The 5.2-litre V10 motor churns out 540hp and 540Nm of torque, which means the R8 V10 Spyder can go from 0-100 kmph in just 3.6 seconds and reach 200 kmph in 11.8 seconds. Audi claims that the Spyder’s top speed is 318 kmph.
While the acceleration is certainly impressive, there are a whole lot of driving modes to complement that performance. Set the Drive Select mode to Dynamic and floor the throttle, and the roar from the sports-type exhaust is unbelievably loud. Then there are the loud pops and crackles that emanate as you lift your foot off the throttle. And with no roof to separate you from the rock concert coming from the tail pipes, that visceral feeling of speed really does go up another notch.
The Dynamic mode isn’t purely about the car’s theatrics. In this mode, the electro-mechanical steering feels heavier and is a lot more direct, and the magnetic dampers stiffen up the ride. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission becomes significantly more responsive too, though it’s a lot easier to exploit the motor’s range using the steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shift control. The Quattro all-wheel drive system offers an incredible amount of grip, even allowing you to be bold around turns and bends. In fact, unlike a lot of supercars, this car is not at all intimidating to drive.
Besides outright performance, the engineers at Audi have really worked to make the engine more efficient and eco-friendly. It’s festooned with tech like a cylinder deactivation system that shuts down half the engine’s cylinders when you aren’t doing maximum acceleration runs. There’s also a new coasting feature that will disengage the gearbox and let the car freewheel if the driver gets off the throttle at speeds above 55 kmph. Audi claims a mileage figure of 8.5km per litre, which isn’t bad at all for a 540hp engine.
The car’s superbly finished canvas soft-top weighs just 44kg. It operates via 10 small hydraulic pistons driven by an electric motor, which can open or close the roof in about 20 seconds, at speeds of up to 50 kmph. However, if you have remotely good weather where you are driving, the ride is a lot more enjoyable with the roof down. Plus, you get to enjoy the unadulterated noise from the exhaust.
In terms of design, the latest-generation R8 is a sharper-looking car than its predecessor. Slip into the driver’s seat, and you will definitely enjoy the car’s exquisitely crafted cabin. All the controls and knobs are tilted ever so gently to the driver side, giving the impression of a purpose-built race car. Behind the sporty flat-bottom steering wheel sits Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit” system, a 12.3-inch display that replaces the traditional instrument cluster. This screen can be used to display the speedometer, tachometer, GPS route navigation and a plethora of other information. And this system will be available on the R8 V10 Spyder in India as well.
The Audi R8 V10 Spyder is an extremely enjoyable car that offers performance as well as near-everyday practicality. It will be coming to India by mid-2017, and is likely to be priced close to the R8 V10 Plus coupé, at about Rs.2.50 crore (ex-showroom).