From £86,290
Compelling rival for 911, with a surprising amount of everyday usability
11 April 2011

What is it?

It’s the new, ‘entry-level’ version of Audi’s drop-top R8. First launched with only the top-whack V10, the Spyder is now available with the regular 424bhp V8 motor - and a useful price saving of more than £20k. A manual V8 Spyder will cost from £95,545 - or around £7k more than a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 S Cabrio.

The V8 puts out 424bhp at a heady 7900rpm, and although there’s a bit of a weight penalty because of the added stiffening required, the R8 V8 can still hit 62mph in 4.8sec and a top speed of 186mph.

What’s it like?

Fabulous. The arrival of the Lambo-derived V10 in the range has overshadowed the R8’s 4.2-litre powerplant a little - perhaps because the more modest motor was, in essence, available in ‘lesser’, non-supercar models.

But that’s dreadfully unfair. It’s got bags of charm, with decent low-down punch and a soundtrack that’s every bit as alluring as the 911’s six-pot. Beyond 4500rpm there’s some exhaust trickery that really cranks up the volume; it’s an utter hoot in tunnels, and the ability to lower the roof to hear it better is a real plus point.

The cabin is beautifully finished and nicely laid out, and the hood installation is first-rate. No, it’s not quite as civilised as a hard-roofed R8 at motorway speeds, but it’s far from uncomfortable. And in an open-air environment it does a decent job of protecting occupants from buffeting.

The particularly good news is that the excellent blend of body control and ride quality that makes the V10 Spyder such a star is still in evidence here. And if anything, the R8 feels a little more nimble, a little keener to dash toward apexes. The steering could use a teeny bit more feel around the straight ahead but it’s nicely weighted and very accurate.

And once again, the R8 amazes us by having one of the best ride set-ups of any Audi. The underlying feeling is one of stiffness, but it remains compliant and surprisingly forgiving over most poor surfaces. Only the worst potholes will intrude and even then, the body doesn’t seem to suffer from noticeable flex.


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Back to top

Downsides? There’s not much space inside for odds and sods. The seats could use a bit more lateral support to cope with the R8’s ability to cling on in corners. And Audi’s metallic gate gearbox cover seems like an aftermarket trinket. If anything, it only slows down shifts; the gearbox feels slicker than the cover allows.

Should I buy one?

Yes. Porsche purists will probably still disagree, but the R8 remains a compelling rival for the classic 911 - perhaps it falls slightly short of that car’s analogue brilliance, but it can match and beat it for charm in other areas. It retains a surprising amount of everyday usability, too. Even though it costs a few quid more, the R8 Spyder V8 should be firmly on your list for consideration before buying any drop-top supercar.

John McIlroy

Audi R8 Spyder V8

Price: £95,545; Top speed: 186mph; 0-62mph: 4.8sec; Economy: 19.6mpg (combined); CO2 emissions: 337g/km; Kerb weight: 1660kg; Engine V8, 4163cc, petrol; Installation: Mid, longitudinal, 4WD; Power: 424bhp at 7900rpm; Torque: 317lb ft at 4500-6000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual; Fuel tank: 80 litres; Boot size: 100 litres.

Join the debate


12 April 2011

[quote Autocar]and a useful price saving of more than £20k.[/quote]

Or just buy an 18 month barely run in V10 spyder for the same money.

13 April 2011

Interior is a looking a bit dated now. They should have given it a facelift at the same time.

13 April 2011

As a weekend toy for people with monster bank balances, I'm sure this is a real rival to a 911 (although if you have that much money, why not go for a V10?!). However, for those of us who use their car every day and care about running costs and practicality I don't think it is.

  • The purchase price is significantly higher in the real world
  • Therefore depreciation in £££ will be more
  • Fuel consumption is at least 5-10mpg worse
  • There aren't the range of specialists to service it at a reasonable cost, and Audi servicing prices for them is even more than Porsche
  • Service intervals are shorter than Porsche
  • Tyre wear is greater than Porsche
  • It has less room in it than the Porsche - I can even get 4 blokes to the pub and back in mine!

I want one, but an just not prepared to pay the extra it will cost....3rd 911 in a row for me I think!

13 April 2011

[quote chris 997]However, for those of us who use their car every day and care about running costs and practicality I don't think it is. [Audi R8 V10] [/quote]An impressive deconstruction of a new piece of shiny metal. If only auto-writers were that thorough.

13 April 2011

...but I missed the bit about the 911 being AT LEAST as much fun to drive of course!

13 April 2011

[quote chris 997]I missed the bit about the 911 being AT LEAST as much fun to drive of course![/quote]Pointless stating the obvious. Treating readers as intelligent gains respect.

13 April 2011

[quote Los Angeles]Pointless stating the obvious. Treating readers as intelligent gains respect. [/quote]

Was that the written equivalent of a pat on the head? :-)

Not sure I'd take an R8 in brown. Despite these chastened times I can't see this V8 version taking more than about 15% of R8 Sypder sales.

13 April 2011

[quote bomb]Was that... a pat on the head?[/quote]Hi Bomb!

More tongue in cheek. I liked Monty Python for assuming viewers were bright; who else would act out comedy sketches in which Karl Marx, Socrates, and Plato feature? Thus, two housewives trying to get a meeting with philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, go from their laundrette to his apartment door:

  • SHE: (To security microphone) Is Jean-Paul free?
  • (Long pause for garbled reply in mock French)
  • HER FRIEND: What did Mrs. Jean-Paul say?
  • SHE: She said, he's been trying to work that out for forty years!

Inspired. But I am wandering off topic ...

16 April 2011

I might be in a minority but I'd take the V8 over the V10, I just prefer the noise. As for the 911, it may be a great car but the R8 looks so much better.

21 April 2011

I agree, it does look better, but then so do most ferraris and aston martins. The fact remains that when it comes to real life, I have to question the assertion that motoring correspondents keep on stating that the R8 is an "everyday" suopercar in the same way as a 911. Look back at my first post and you will see why i don't think it is!


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week