The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.9
With its raspy soundtrack, amazing dynamic ability and surprising refinement, the Audi R8 Spyder convertible is the ultimate version of the R8 supercar.
Reasons to buy
- Attractive styling
- Quality build
- Easy to drive
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The Audi R8 makes the transition from coupe to convertible well, and the overall look of the car is harmonious and elegant. Changes from the coupe include adding the engine and roof covers and removing the fussy sideblades, but the biggest giveaway from the front that this is a Spyder is the chrome edge to the top of the windscreen – a characteristic of Audi convertibles. The R8 might be becoming a more common sight on UK roads, but it still attracts more attention than its rivals.
What's the interior like?
Like the coupe, the R8 Spyder convertible has a beautifully finished interior. The dashboard is attractive and driver-focussed and the stitched leather top and optional carbon fibre trim add to the bespoke feel. The switchgear might be too similar to that in a standard Audi A4, but the precision Audi feel of the R8’s interior helps it stand apart from its Jaguar and Porsche rivals. The raised centre console and sloping dashboard make it feel more modern, so it’s a shame the sat-nav is a previous-generation unit, as the current A4 has a better one.
How practical is it?
Even with the hood up, there’s enough headroom and adjustment in the comfy sports seats for even the tallest drivers to feel at ease. Naturally, you won’t buy this car for its practicality, but there’s a 100-litre boot at the front which will swallow a couple of soft sports bags. There’s also a small, lockable stowage compartment between the seats and deep door bins. Forward visibility in the R8 Spyder is generally good, but even without the roof it’s hard to see out of the back, so parking and manoeuvring are best done with care. Front and rear parking sensors and a rear parking distance camera are available as options.
What's it like to drive?
Convertibles are often the poor relation when it comes to ride and handling, as lopping off the roof can really damage the dynamics. This is not the case with the R8 Spyder, as the quattro four-wheel drive system helps to give it seriously impressive levels of grip in addition to well-balanced handling. True, the Spyder’s set-up is softer than the R8 coupe’s, and it doesn’t handle quite as sharply, but it does feel more dynamic to drive than its Jaguar and Porsche rivals. The ride is firm on the standard 19-inch alloy wheels, and on poor surfaces it can feel a bit unsettled, but the V10 model is fitted with Audi’s Magnetic Ride adaptive damping system (an option on the V8 cars), which noticeably tightens up the handling on twisting roads. The Audi’s steering is also direct, slack-free and makes it very easy to place the car on the road.
How powerful is it?
The R8 Spyder is heavier and slightly slower than the R8 coupe, but it can match its rivals for performance. The V10 model will sprint to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds (or 3.8 seconds with the optional S tronic semi-automatic gearbox), while the V8 model is less than a second behind. These are genuine supercar figures, but for the full R8 experience, it’s worth going for the V10 model, not least because its mid-mounted 5.2-litre FSI engine revs to 8,700 rpm, giving an addictive howl that sounds even more awesome with the hood off.
How much will it cost me?
Expect supercar bills – although, to be fair, bills that are no worse than on any other supercar. Whether you choose the V8 or V10 model, specifying the optional S tronic gearbox improves the car’s economy, although even the most frugal R8 Spyder – the V8 with the S tronic gearbox – averages just 22.4mpg. Likewise, every model will incur the maximum rate of road tax and sits in the top band for insurance.
How reliable is it?
The R8 V10 Spyder is an Audi and as such is thoroughly developed; you only have to look at the way the fabric roof folds – it’s a work of art. There should be no more problems with its reliability than with any other model in the range.
How safe is it?
There’s no Euro NCAP result for the R8, but it’s fitted with front and side airbags, electronic stability control and traction control. The Quattro four-wheel-drive system gives more confidence in difficult conditions and, overall, we’d say it’s the equal of its Jaguar and Porsche rivals.
How much equipment do I get?
Specifications for the Spyder are the same as on the R8 coupe, and all models come with 19-inch alloy wheels, leather sports seats, sat-nav and Bluetooth. On top of that, V10 models come with extra equipment including Audi’s magnetic ride system, a Bang and Olufsen stereo and extra leather trim. Among the options are Audi’s Parking System Plus, with a rear-facing camera, and costly ceramic brakes.
The R8 Spyder has the same performance punch, soundtrack and amazing dynamic ability as the coupe. What’s more impressive about the Spyder is its first-class refinement, especially with the hood up. It’s hard to think of a rival that offers such a great all-round package.