What is it like to drive?
You could quite understandably not buy the Spyder for the looks or the suntan. It’s the best possible place to appreciate that magnificent 8,500rpm V10, and with ‘only’ 562bhp on tap – hardly top-drawer stuff for a supercar these days – you’re actually up the business end, chasing those delightful final revs fairly often.
It’s pretty much the opposite experience to driving a McLaren or Ferrari Spider, which are all about massive turbo boost, plain engine notes and so much speed that one trip through third gear is enough to scare you witless and have you in handcuffs by lunchtime.
What. A. Noise. Brooding at idle, mournful as you climb past 2, 3, 4,000 rpm, then downright life-affirming as it soars toward the redline. One of the world’s great engines, this.
Okay, I get it. Sounds nice. What else?
The gearbox – a seven-speed twin-clutch – is fabulous too: really fast on the way up and deliciously blippable on the way back down.
The body control is still a bit bouncy when you’re really leaning on the R8 – the suspension needs more than one stroke to fully settle after you’ve loaded it up. And the ceramic brakes get quite pongy (literally) and grumble when you’re leaning on them. If you’re spending thousands of pounds on fade-free stoppers, they shouldn’t complain.
Audi isn’t planning to offer them on UK cars anyway, so that’s a moot point for Brits, who will just have to brake earlier.
Does it feel floppy because the roof has been cut off?
Despite not being built around a racecar-stiff, McLaren-style carbon tub, the R8 Spyder doesn’t twang or wibble every time you run over a painted line. Find yourself on a properly craggy road (or as they’re known in Britain, ‘a road') and sure, the rear-view mirror might vibrate a smidge.
But you never feel the wheel wobble in your hands as if the steering column’s fashioned from uncooked spaghetti.