- CAR Audi R8 Spyder V10 END OF TERM
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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’