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    Audi returns to Le Mans

    For years the German marque straddled Le Mans like a colossus. Then it left. Jake Groves leads the comeback.
    Audi bailed out of the World Endurance Championship back in 2016, after a decade and a half of near-complete dominanace. Its swansong was the Audi Sport Team Joest R18, but the story began with the R8 – the R8R contested the 1999 race. Heck, even the R8 production car’s concept forebear was called the Le Mans Concept.

    So, when you’re invited to Le Mans, glamping, and with the opportunity to rub shoulders with some famous people (courtesy in my case of Aston Martin Racing, not Audi), taking our R8 to one of the most famous races on the planet is a no-brainer. I’ll be the closest thing to a 2019 Le Mans entry Audi Sport will have – hell, they should be paying me for this.

    Lumpy, congested British motorways and fast, clean French autoroutes generally don’t make for a particularly thrilling drive. But when you have 10 cylinders, a foldable roof and a near-continuous convoy of motorsport fans in similarly tasty cars all the way from Calais to Le Mans, you don’t stop smiling. At one point I even spend time in convoy with CAR’s James Taylor, who’s driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS; some long tunnels allow for laugh-out-loud (and very childish) acceleration tests between the R8’s bassy midrange and the Porsche’s limiter-bouncing howls.

    I arrive at the campsite with no backache (the bucket seats are uncompromising but supportive) and ready for a weekend in any weather, the R8’s supposedly paltry frunk swallowing everything from T-shirts and shorts to chunky boots and a thick raincoat.

    The weekend itself proves unforgettable. I come away exhausted and temporaily deaf but it will be hard to beat watching the sunrise at Tertre Rouge, taking a helicopter ride over the track mid-race and testing my own endurance by staying up most of the night.

    Then, on the misty Monday morning after, I do the whole trip back again with a similarly wide smile on my face. That is, of course, after a quick blast up and down the Mulsanne straight, sneaking a few pictures on the second chicane.
    Any niggles? It’s a small one, but plenty of recent new Audis have an updated version of Virtual Cockpit that looks cleaner and comes with some cool graphics – something the A1 hatch gets but this facelifted supercar doesn’t, even though the two were launched at the same time. Oh, and there are a couple of creaks coming from the instrument cluster – again, not a dealbreaker, but evidence of the R8’s handmade origins.

    / #2019-Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance-Type-4S / #2019 / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Mk2 / #Audi-R8 / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Spyder

    Month 2

    The story so far

    All style, no substance? Le Mans and back will test the R8, asking that it lug all-weather camping gear, cruise long distances and still thrill when required

    + The attention you get; engine, pliancy in Comfort; engine; topless thrills; grip; did we mention the engine?
    - The attention you get; thirst

    Price £152,645 (£169,120 as tested)
    Performance 5204cc V10, 612bhp,
    0-62mph 3.2sec
    Max speed 204mph
    Efficiency 20.9-21.1mpg (official), 22.2mpg (tested), 302g/ km CO2
    Energy cost 30.1p per mile
    Miles this month 3575
    Total miles 7819


    Come on Audi, GTE next year? The R8 couldn’t look happier on Le Mans tarmac
    In the tunnels, the R8’s bassy midrange battles a Porsche 911 GT3 RS’s limiter bouncing howls
    • Ways to start the day come no finer: ? Naturally aspirated V10 ? Spyder for fruity country smells ⭕️ Mid-engined poise for back-road thrills No wondWays to start the day come no finer:

      ? Naturally aspirated V10
      ? Spyder for fruity country smells
      ⭕️ Mid-engined poise for back-road thrills

      No wonder jake-groves turns up to work grinning every day with this as his
        More ...
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    CAR Audi R8 Spyder V10 END OF TERM

    / #Audi-R8-Spyder / #Audi-R8-Spyder-V10-Plus / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Mk2 / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Mk2 / #Audi-R8

    It’s farewell to our drop-top supercar – and its magnificent #V10 . But will we miss having an R8 as a daily driver?

    Knocking about in a drop-top supercar for half a year is likely to sit pretty high up on any petrolhead’s bucket-list. Running an R8 Spyder was, of course, a brilliant experience – one I may never be lucky enough to repeat. And with the Spyder’s £129,990 base price taken up to £167,740 by options such as carbonceramic brakes (£7700), the gloss carbon exterior styling pack (£4900) and the Sport Plus Pack (bringing Audi’s three-mode magnetic adaptive dampers, Dynamic Steering and a sports exhaust, for £3500), this R8 really was deep into supercar territory. But before I get into the many reasons why it was such fun, there are a few (decidedly first-world) irritations I want to air.

    My first complaint relates to the attention a car like the Spyder gets out on the road. Mostly the waves and the thumbs-ups and the friendly comments are all quite fun, but what I could have done without was the steady stream of morons who were determined to lure me into a street-race on motorways and dual carriageways. I’m no saint, and there will be drivers out there who’ll have vivid memories of a bright red projectile firing off into the distance, but mostly I just let them go.

    You could spot these bargain-bin Brian O’Conners a mile off. They’d approach at speed, then suddenly stand on the brakes when they clocked the R8’s extra-wide rump. They’d sit behind for a little while, too close for comfort, before pulling alongside. I never looked over to make eye contact, instead fixing my stare on the road ahead. From here they might circulate the car once or twice, or sit in front of it, or even flash their lights to try to get my attention. After a short while, once they’d realised there was no sport to be had, they’d disappear, probably to recount to their mates the time they roasted an R8 on the A43.

    Then there was the fact that a car such as this one stands out wherever it’s parked. I was always nervous about leaving it out on the street overnight (living in a city, I had no other choice), a concern that was realised one morning when I found the driver’s window had been smashed. Unless you happen to have secure parking wherever you go, I suspect that underlying nervousness is, sadly, part of the supercar ownership experience.

    There were a few annoyances relating specifically to the R8, too, notably the fixed-back bucket seats (a £3000 option), which I’ve written about far too often already, and the width of the thing, which made certain car parks hell to navigate. It also needed a quiet-start function, as my poor neighbours will attest. Does this all sound a bit moany?

    Perhaps it does. Regardless, in just about every other sense, running the Spyder was utterly brilliant.

    How could it not be? I always smiled to myself when I caught a glimpse of it. I made a point of dropping the little window behind the seats on every single journey, no matter how tedious, and stretching the magnificent engine all the way around to the 8500rpm red line, with the exhaust in sport mode, just to let the V10 howl flood into the cabin. There’s no better way to start the day. Or finish it, for that matter. I suggested when the car arrived that this exercise would be more a case of living with a whacking great V10 engine than running a particular car, and it’s certainly true that the motor dominated the entire R8 experience.

    Once the weather improved, sometime in March, I could actually use the car as its maker intended by getting the roof down. I found that quite a calming experience. I wouldn’t drive the car particularly hard with the hood lowered, but instead would stroke it along and enjoy the sounds and the smells and the fresh air. It isn’t often you can use 533 wild horses to their full potential on the road, so having something to enjoy about the R8 at moderate speeds was a massive boon.

    The car averaged around 23mpg, with high-20s just about achievable on a long, steady run. It didn’t need a service during its time with us, but it did need a fresh set of Pirelli P Zeros (just over £1000 fitted) soon before it went back to Audi. Smashed window aside, the R8 didn’t once let me down in any way – which, of course, is how it should be.

    One final thought. Having run a bona fide supercar as my everyday car, I’m not certain I’d be in a hurry to do it again. Not because the R8 was in any way taxing – given its massive performance and handling ability, it was actually very easy to use – but because I wouldn’t want to normalise what is actually a very special thing. I think I’d keep the supercar for weekends and driving holidays. After all, eating steak every night would soon wear thin.

    Date acquired November #2016
    Duration of test 6 months
    Total test mileage 9667
    Overall mpg 22.8
    Costs £1048 four tyres
    Purchase price £167,740
    Value today £120,000-135,000

    Left: Prosser took the R8 to north Wales for a farewell drive. Where better to enjoy that mighty, 533bhp V10 one last time?

    ‘There will be drivers out there who’ll have vivid memories of a bright red projectile firing off into the distance’
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    AUDI R8 SPYDER / #Audi-R8-Spyder

    The roof may have gone, but the magic is still there – the new #Audi-R8-Spyder is a truly impressive machine…

    The all-new R8 has been greeted with critical acclaim. It’s dripping with the latest technology, stunningly beautiful to look at and boasts a V10 engine that offers spine tingling performance, as well as a sensational sound track. No surprise, then, that orders have been strong for the Audi supercar. While the Coupe has been going great guns, many have held back, waiting to see the Spyder. Would the loss of the roof dilute the R8’s winning formula? Not on your life.


    Unveiled at the prestigious #2016-New-York-Motor-Show , the #Audi-R8-Mk2 Spyder is another triumph for Audi.

    Let’s begin with the aesthetics. With the hood down, the R8 is a very good-looking machine. The flowing lines, enhanced by the deep, wide flanks look great from every angle. The hood itself has been designed to taper into two fins, to maintain the shape of the #Audi-R8 . An electro-hydraulic system opens the lightweight hood in just 20 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. Like the Coupe, the glass engine cover has gone and is replaced by a panel featuring cooling vents for the mighty V10. Matrix LED headlights come as standard, while laser lighting technology is available as an option.

    19in alloys are standard while 20s can be specified along with carbon ceramic brakes. The chassis benefits from the class leading quattro drive system and four modes are available, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. The system draws on the s-tronic, steering, exhaust flap control and control of the optional magnetic damping system. The optional Performance steering wheel offers three further settings, Wet, Dry and Snow for the ultimate in personalising the set up according to conditions.

    The Spyder weighs in at just 1,612kg (dry), giving an impressive power to weight figure of 310PS per ton. This has been achieved using the super-stiff and lightweight Audi Space Frame (ASF), a blend of aluminium and carbon fibre.

    One of the real treats with any ‘soft top’, of course, is the ability to hear the engine properly. And engines don’t come much better than the naturally aspirated 5.2 V10 nestled behind the driver. This 532bhp and 540Nm free-revving unit emits a highly sonorous bark that wills you to prod the throttle more and more. With the roof down, you get to hear every note as you explore the V10’s capabilities. From a meaty, but unobtrusive burble at idle, through to a screaming crescendo when you near the limiter, the fantastic noise is amplified in the Spyder. The V10 is truly one of the great powerplants and so well matched to the R8’s dynamically impressive chassis. Top speed is a heady 197mph, with 0-62mph achievable in just 3.6secs.

    A more powerful Spyder Plus is expected to be unveiled later in the year, offering the same 601bhp and associated upgrades as the Coupe Plus. Inside, the Spyder features the same high-quality, driver focussed cabin and controls as the Coupe. The driver may control important functions via the new Sport or Performance steering wheel. This includes the engine start stop button and Audi Drive Select for altering the engine dynamics.


    The #Audi-Virtual-Cockpit comes as standard with a 12.3in display allowing three screens to be set – classic, infotainment or performance. Add to this touchscreen #MMI navigation plus, and the brand new smartphone interface, which allows selected smartphone content to be displayed in the virtual cockpit. A new B&O sound system with 13 speakers, including two in each head restraint offer amazing sound.


    Sports seats come as standard, but a diamondstitched pattern is an option, while bucket seats may also be specified.

    A brand new colour is available especially for the Spyder, Argus brown, matt, together with five other finishes, including the vivid yellow of the car pictured. Orders are open from late spring, with the first UK deliveries scheduled for late 2016. Prices are yet to be announced, but we’d expect around a £10,000 premium over the Coupe, which starts at £119,500. One thing’s for sure, Audi has absolutely nailed it with the new R8 Spyder – we love it.

    SPECIFICATION 2016 #Audi-R8-Spyder / #Audi-R8-Spyder-V10-Plus / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Mk2 / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Mk2
    Engine 5.2 #FSI #V10
    Power 532bhp and 540Nm
    Transmission #S-tronic gearbox, quattro drive
    Weight 1,612kg (dry)
    Top speed 197mph
    0-62mph 3.6sec
    Price TBC
    On sale Available to order Spring 2016

    Top: Angular front end looks fantastic. Right: Diamond-stitched seats are an option Middle: Looks great with the hood up.

    “THE R8 SPYDER IS A VERY GOOD LOOKING MACHINE”
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