From £188,000
Ludicrously expensive and makes little sense, but sounds fabulous.

Standing beside the Spyker C8 Spyder in the upmarket Kensington mews that houses dealer Hunt and Keal’s showroom, I was fully prepared to hear the obligatory ‘How much, Mister?’ answered with something on the large side of unaffordable. This is, after all, an enticing-looking roadster. But it’s as much as I can do to stop an unfortunate combination of the words ‘laugh’, ‘having’, ‘you’re’ and ‘mate’ spilling out when the aforementioned figure is casually tossed into conversation. And that wouldn’t be fair. Because first we must drive this strange little Dutch contraption to discover whether it is worth the money. After all, £188,000 is two grand less than the price of a Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster.Spykers have been lurking about on the international motor show circuit for some time, but this is the first time I’ve seen one on the road. Two aspects of its presentation stand out. It is extremely short, and it has also been assembled with an eye for detail and material choice that should, for a select number of customers, go a fair way to answering the value question. The only other manufacturer to take this much care over its knurling, machining and haberdashery sells a product called the Zonda – itself a fairly exquisite machine. But then a well-used Zonda can be had for, well, about £188,000.Although it seems unlikely, there is possibly someone out there who has unknowingly heard a Spyker C8 and yet never been within 100 miles of one. That person could have been the unfortunate owner of an Audi A8 4.2 – the donor car for the Spyker’s gizzards – with the exhaust somehow detached at the manifold, who was then forced to drive it home wondering why it sounded like a Rolls-Royce Trent at maximum thrust. The merest brush of throttle in the Spyker has a profound effect on the surrounding environment. Birds are the first to respond to its crazy-decibel pipes: they instinctively vacate the area the way they would if some large, malevolent natural disaster were approaching.Humans simply stand still and attempt to locate the source of this mechanical frenzy. The more knowledgeable of them perhaps look out for a trio of Mercedes E55 AMGs with exhaust baffles removed, because those might, if thwacked with enough venom, make a similar noise to this diminutive rag-top. Equally their combined value – give or take the odd thousand – would, by chance, be somewhere near the £188,000 mark.The Spyker is a very physical device to drive. Perhaps too physical. The clutch is heavy enough to induce all manner of Geoff Capes-related clichés and the brakes deserve special mention for requiring more shove than any I’ve ever experienced in a road car. This is because there is no brake servo, an engineering decision which may have been acceptable in the original 650kg Lotus Elise, but seems less wise in the 1250kg Spyker. After 20 minutes in central London traffic, I am ashamed to admit that I was feeling jaded enough to feel a pang of jealousy towards the rear-seat occupants of the Maybach 57 that swished by in the opposite direction. Sadly its list price is £70,000 more than the Spyker’s, but rumour has it they’re forecourt barnacles at present, and a deal on an ex-demo model could be struck. For somewhere in the region of £188,000.Assessing outright speed in the Spyker is unusually difficult without the help of timing equipment. Usually my own subjective apparatus is quite accurate, but with such exertion and vocal energy, just how brisk the Spyker is remains a mystery to me. On a clear, open A-road it feels as potent as a TVR Sagaris, but in the Hyde Park underpass under full re-heat you can’t escape the feeling that something capable of emitting such a racket might stand a decent chance of scalping a Porsche Carrera GT. Prices of which, incidentally, are currently falling just below £200,000 when showing some mileage. £200,000 versus £188,000? Akin to ordering Stella rather than Fosters, at this end of the market.Spyker steering is an interesting phenomenon. As a recently qualified Clio V6 operator, I am fully acquainted with insufficient turning circles, but the C8 takes the notion a step further. More than 50 per cent of the turning manoeuvres you will be required to perform in an urban environment are impossible in this car.Given the delightful build quality, especially around the front end, where you can open the clamshell and see a set of suspension components welded with the type of loving care not often seen these days, it’s a shame Spyker hasn’t taken the chance to make the Spyder a touch softer for UK roads. This is a hard-riding device, and even though that might lend the car the ability to corner flatly, and offer oodles of high-speed body control, it also only allows such facets to be experienced on the flattest of surfaces. Otherwise it just skips the bumps and becomes airborne. At which point it could, if we stretch the comparison a touch, become a rival for the £150,000 Robinson R22 helicopter.I am perplexed by the Spyker. It has one of the most remarkable interiors seen in a production car, and makes a noise I shall now do you the favour of ceasing to describe by way of simile or metaphor. But it is also one of the most truculent, obstinate cars I’ve ever driven: one that expects an awful lot of the driver and yet rarely delivers much in return (other than at low speed in tunnels). But I just can’t bring myself to wholly dislike a car with an exposed gear linkage and – sorry – Aretha Franklin’s lungs. Anyone looking for maximum publicity knows where to look. If they’ve got £188,000 to spare.Chris Harris

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Leslie Brook 11 September 2011

Re: Spyker Spyder C8

I wasn't a member of this forum on the 17th September 2005. If I had been I would have been able to say this... YUK!