Audi R8 Spyder review
The Audi R8 Spyder takes the already excellent R8 and gives you unbridled access to the sound of its superb V10 engine. Just don’t expect it to match alternatives’ exclusivity.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Audi R8 Spyder
The Audi R8 Spyder has a bit of a reputation as the sensible soft-top supercar – relatively speaking, of course. Since it first went on sale in 2017, this convertible version of Audi’s fastest car has always played second fiddle to the likes of the Lamborghini Huracan Spider in the looks department, but a serious revamp in 2019 means it’s now more dramatic than ever.
If the old Audi R8 Spyder looked like it was hugging the ground, this new model embraces it so tightly you’ll wonder how it ever managed to drive off the back of the delivery truck. Its new front bumper comes with plenty more slashes and creases than the old car’s and three new slots above the grille pay homage to the famous Quattro rally car from the eighties.
The new R8 Spyder comes with the same signature air intakes behind each door as the old car, but they’re joined by a set of colour-matching side skirts which look poised to give a buzz-cut to any unsuspecting speed bumps.
Finally, at the back, you’ll notice a black racing-car-inspired diffuser and a huge black grille stretching all the way from one vast oval exhaust pipe to the other like a massive plastic monobrow.
Sadly, things aren’t nearly as poster-worthy on the inside. The Audi R8 Spyder’s cabin feels superbly well built but it lacks a Lamborghini’s wow factor. At least the simple layout means everything’s dead easy to use, though – from the three climate control dials on the dashboard to the digital driver’s display with its super-crisp graphics.
You also get a set of really comfortable sports seats with loads of bolstering, but you’ll wish they went a little lower if you’re quite tall. Not only will six-footers find their heads brushing against the soft-top, but the slightly raised seat bases mean you don’t feel quite as cocooned in the R8 Spyder as you do in the coupe model.
The Audi R8 Spyder isn’t the most high-tech supercar out there, but its naturally aspirated V10 engine makes up for this by producing a soundtrack that’d make Hans Zimmer proud.
With the roof up, the Audi R8 Spyder feels a little claustrophobic inside – it’s certainly more difficult to see out of than the R8 coupe – but it’s still impressively easy to drive in town. Its suspension does a pretty admirable job ironing out bumps, too – for a low-slung supercar, at least.
And if it’s long journeys you do, you’ll find the fabric roof does an excellent job muting wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds. The only downside to this is that it also muffles the glorious wail of the R8 Spyder’s high-revving V10 engine.
Head out onto a quiet country road, fold the roof down (which takes around 20 seconds and can be done at up to 31mph) and hit the accelerator and the Audi R8 Spyder turns into a very different animal. Most supercars use engines equipped with sound-sapping turbochargers but the naturally aspirated V10 in the R8 is more responsive, more sonorous and still manages to produce 620hp in Performance trim.
Combine this colossal power with a lightning-fast seven-speed automatic gearbox and a grippy four-wheel-drive system and the most potent Performance versions of the Audi R8 Spyder will blast from 0-60mph in just 3.2 seconds – all while sounding absolutely glorious.
It isn’t just the Audi R8 Spyder’s superb soundtrack that’ll have you grinning from ear to ear, the way it drives will put a stupidly big smile on your face, too. It feels just as agile as the coupe and has an equally uncanny ability to summon grip from the most leaf-covered and rain-sodden surfaces.
As a result, there’s no excuse not to go out and enjoy this sublime soft-top all year round. In fact, it’s made all the more appealing by being noticeably cheaper than alternatives from McLaren and Lamborghini.