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Steering, suspension and comfort

In the hard-top Audi R8, this is where the downside of installing the 5.2-litre V10 in place of the V8 makes itself felt. There is a further compromise here, of course, because in addition to the weight of the motor there is the additional weight of the body and a 20 percent decrease in torsional rigidity.

Do you feel the loss of stiffness? Of course. But to Audi’s credit, only subtly. The R8 coupé is a car that rides well by supercar standards and the springs and dampers have been softened slightly on the Spyder, so that remains the case. 

The R8 Spyder is a car that rides well by supercar standards

Certainly, those stepping out of a Mercedes-AMG SL63 won’t be disappointed with the Audi’s high-class ability to deal with bumps and road scars.

Only over a series of bumps does the R8 Spyder’s lack of a metal roof generally make its presence felt. The rear-view mirror barely wobbles, however, as it can in some roadsters.

As standard, the R8 Spyder has magnetic dampers. For the road their soft setting is very well judged. You’d need to be on a dead flat Continental road or an extremely well surfaced race track to want to swap to the firmer of the two settings.

But for all the extra weight and loss of stiffness, remember that the R8 coupé is a car that has agility and poise to spare, so the resulting Spyder, even though it is inevitably less sharp than its sister model, is still an incisive car to drive — more so than an SL63 or, for that matter, a Ferrari California.

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There is more roll than in the R8 coupé, sure, but its rate is contained and it isn’t excessive. The Spyder will punish its front tyres more quickly than its sister model, too, in steady-state cornering.

And when it does fall into oversteer, that transition is now even quicker than in the V10 coupé, which in turn is faster than the V8. 

Which leaves the V8 coupé as still the most exquisite-handling R8, but it was inevitable that this would be the case.