Audi R8 V10

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Audi R8 GT Spyder

Road Test

Audi R8 V10 GT Spyder driven

Driven January 2012

Additional Info

This must be the ultimate Audi R8. Must be, as it wears the biggest price tag - a mighty 158,145 of your British pounds. So it stands to reason the R8 GT Spyder must be a hell of a car, a step up from the V8 and V10, a hardcore roadster to show the likes of the Merc SLS Roadster and Ferrari 458 Spider a thing or two.

The extra cash - £41,435 over and above the standard V10 Spyder - buys you 85kg less, if that makes sense. Audi has cut weight to 1,640kg, which is commendable, although you might be surprised at how the savings work out. The front splitter, rear spoiler and rear bumper together save 5.5kg. Add to that a thinner-skinned bonnet (minus 2.4kg), and you have the same 7.9kg saving as has been achieved by using thinner carpets inside. Yes, all that carbon and aluminium work adds up to the same as having a slightly balder sheep in the footwell. The only major weight-saving comes from the less comfortable - but 31kg lighter - fixed bucket seats.

The GT Spyder ensures you're aware of the weight reduction, thanks to the fact your eye cannot rest on anything that isn't carbon fibre. This is just as well, because aside from that and those moulded chairs, it's hard to tell you're not in a standard V10.

And, yes, that means that you don't really feel the extra 34bhp, liberated by a simple engine-management tweak. The V10 hurls itself down the road convincingly enough, but the smooth, rich, surprisingly relaxed character of the engine hasn't changed. Nor has the noise. The GT neither acts nor sounds like a fire-spitting savage, and part of us is a bit sorry about that.

So, a mild engine upgrade, no new exhaust, no new gearbox. The GT only comes with the R tronic sequential manual, and that's just not good enough when all around have instant-shifting double-clutchers. Full-throttle shifts have you lurching and are bad enough to force you to lift the throttle as you pull the paddle, just to smooth things out.

And aside from a 10mm drop and minor camber change, nothing's been done to the suspension, either. Which means the GT handles and drives the same as every other R8 model. In many ways, this is a good thing, because few mid-engined cars are as supple, balanced and friendly. The GT rides beautifully, has a little warning understeer, sweet steering and is a pleasurable car to drive. But so is a standard R8, and there's the rub...

The R8 GT Spyder isn't a hardcore roadster but a highly expensive trim upgrade, much like the difference between Sport and S line in Audi's lesser models. Yes, it comes with a load of standard kit, including superb ceramic brakes, and only 333 are being made, with just 66 destined for the UK. But, for our money, this is too high a price for the exclusivity.

Ollie Marriage

The numbers
5204cc, V10, RWD, 552bhp, 398lb ft, 19.9mpg, 332g/km CO2, 0-62 in 3.8secs, 197mph, 1640kg

The cost

The verdict
Not the tarmac-chewing hyper-R8 we were hoping for. GT Spyder is a dash quicker and has lots of carbon trimmings, but just look at the price...

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