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Audi R8 V10 Spyder 2011 Review

EXPERT RATING
9

Teenage boys try to be cool, aloof and dis-interested, but all it takes is a German droptop sportscar to transform them into wide-eyed gawkers.  Blip the Audi R8 V10 Spider's throttle and they jump a little before returning to filling their smart phones with pics.  It might well be similar in outlay to the median house price in Adelaide, but these boys would probably ignore the capital gain and take the keys.

VALUE

Next please. You do pay for the blue sky privileges of the R8 Spyder V10, which asks $392,200 for the R-Tronic automated manual - a $16,100 ask over the six-speed manual that's probably not money well spent, but more on that later.

The features list goes some way towards offsetting the mortgage-sized pricetag - standard in the Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro are the power mirrors, auto LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an alarm, a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker sound system (that spent most of its time dormant while I had the car).

There's also Bluetooth phone link (which regularly argued with my iPhone) satnav, power-adjustable and heated Nappa leather seats with special coating to reduce heat absorption, parking sensors, a  rear-view camera and the auto-dipping high-beam assist.

TECHNOLOGY

Almost everything about this car says high-tech - starting with the light-emitting diode (LED) lights for both beams, the daytime running lights and the indicators.  Built on the Audi Space Frame, which consists of aluminium and carbon-fibre composite materials, the R8's body panels also made using the strong lightweight materials to keep weight increases to a minimum.

The soft top's mechanism adds 42kg to the scales but the roofless and reinforced body alone is just 6kg more than the Coupe.  The work has had an effect as the open-topped car has little movement or shake over bumps or through dips; overall the Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro weighs only 1725kg - 100kg more than the hardtop.

The Spyder's 5.2-litre V10 is an Audi powerplant (says Audi) shared with Lamborghini (who do a Lambo-specific top end), but in the German machine produces 386kW and 530Nm - enough to hit 100km/h in 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 313 km/h.

DESIGN

Still an eye-catcher of epic proportions, the convertible's styling has held up to the sands of time.  Unlike the coupe, the R8 Spyder has vents in lieu of the "sideblades" just aft of the doors are functional, with the convertible tonneau (made from carbon-fibre composite) giving the rear-end attractive proportions, although the pop-up rear-spoiler ruin the lines a little.

The roof is an insulated soft-top that opens and closes within 19 seconds, at speeds up to 50 km/h, with a heated glass rear window that doubles as a wind-blocker to good effect.  Storage space is limited - a couple of cubby holes in the cabin and a luggage compartment in the snout thatclaims a capacity of 100 litres.

SAFETY

The R8 Spyder not short on safety gear, with dual front and side airbags, stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and roll-over protection in the form of two spring-loaded aluminium sections within the bulkhead.
Magnetic switches release the bars within 0.2 of a second of the system detecting an airbag or seatbelt pre-tensioner firing.
It stops in a similarly staggering fashion to its departures - massive drilled and ventilated brakes with eight-piston front and four-piston rear calipers will bring things to a halt in short order.

DRIVING

Violent forward motion - with a banshee at your shoulder - sums up the R8 V10 Spyder, of which Audi have sold 10 in Australia since its September launch last year.  Even with the roof up, you can drop the back window and keep the shrieking soundtrack - at least that's what I think my passenger called it, I could be wrong.

In full-monty sport mode, the sharpened drivetrain smashes your senses, with the only interruption being the (admittedly old-school) single-clutch automated manual swapping cogs.  With 530Nm of torque at 6500rpm and 386kW arriving at a hysterical 8000rpm, the Spyder lays claim to a 313km/h top speed and a sprint to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds - nothing about the R8's demeanour suggests these are optimistic.

But it's the mundane mooching on main roads where the R8 is surprising - the magnetic dampers (which would only ever need Sport mode on a racetrack) offer a good ride - firm but with more compliance than many vehicles with vastly inferior cornering ability.

That list of cars is toilet-roll long - the rear-biased all-wheel drive system, meaty steering and grip levels that make a leech look lazy all team up to give the Spyder prowess in corners that re-arranges your internal organs.

The cabin noise levels are well below average for a convertible and, if you use the paddles and change manually in Normal mode, the drivetrain is far more pleasant - save the $16,000 Audi charges for the R-Tronic and spend it on other options.

Sadly the droptop doesn't provide the same delicious powerplant view on offer in the coupe, but the open-air experience - with none of the body weakness and creaking that sullies other soft-tops - makes the peak-a-boo view of the V10 easier to take.

VERDICT

A potent drive of epic proportions, the R8 Spyder is a supercar that could easily be driven every day without complaint from car or driver - I'll live in a swag and take the car.

AUDI R8 V10 SPYDER ****1/2
 
Price: $392,000
Warranty: 3 years, unlimited  km
Resale: 85% 
Service Interval: 15,000km or 12-months
Economy: 13.9 l/100km, 98 RON PULP, on test 20.5; 332g/km CO2, tank 80 litres

SAFETY
 
Equipment: four airbags, stability control, ABS, EBD.
Crash rating: n/a star
 
TECHNICAL

 
Engine: 386kW/530Nm 5.2-litre DOHC direct-injection 40-valve V10
Transmission: six-speed R-Tronic automated manual, all-wheel drive
Body: 2-door, 2 seats convertible
Dimensions: 4434mm (L); 1904mm (W); 1244mm (H); 2650mm (WB)
Weight: 1725kg
Tyre size: 235/35 fr, 295/30 rr, 19in
Spare tyre:Tyre mobility system
 

Pricing guides

$119,625
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$82,500
Highest Price
$156,750

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro 5.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $114,500 – 144,760 2011 Audi R8 2011 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Carbon 5.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $119,100 – 150,590 2011 Audi R8 2011 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro Carbon Pricing and Specs
4.2 FSI Quattro 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $87,300 – 110,440 2011 Audi R8 2011 4.2 FSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
4.2 FSI Quattro Carbon Edition 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $86,000 – 108,680 2011 Audi R8 2011 4.2 FSI Quattro Carbon Edition Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
9
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.