This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Audi R8 Spyder review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

It’s Audi R8 Spyder performance that is core to its proposition, and it’s all thanks to its pair of engines – one 4.2-litre V8 and another 5.0-litre V10.

V8 engine

This 4.2-litre V8 engine doesn’t use any turbocharger or supercharger to make its peak power – a not inconsiderable 424bhp – but relies on good old-fashioned revs instead. You’ll need to touch 8,000rpm before you make that number, but when it sounds as good as this one does when fully-extended, that’s no hardship.

There’s plenty of mid-range torque available, but to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 4.5 seconds you’ll need to keep the needle occupying the top-end of the rev-counter.

V10 engine

The 5.2-litre V10 engine, also found in the Lamborghini Gallardo, is the star of the show though, producing 518bhp and 530Nm of torque. The 2007-2012 V10 model sprints from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and hurtles on to a top speed of 194mph, but the later model gets there in just 3.8 seconds.

What makes the car’s acceleration so impressive is the way the power builds from low down and gets ever stronger as the revs rise. With peak torque kicking in at 6,300rpm and full power at 8,000rpm, flooring the throttle all the way to the 8,700rpm redline is completely addictive.

Drop the roof and the sensation of noise and speed is intense, leaving you with messed-up hair and a wide-stretching grin.

The stand six-speed manual gearbox comes with slotted gates so you need to be very precise to ensure the lever goes smoothly from one gear to another. With practice quick gear changes become easier and getting it right is especially satisfying.

Regardless of engine the Audi is very well behaved in low speed traffic and it’s an easy enough car – despite its considerable width – to thread round town.

Before 2012 Audi offered the option of an automatic gear box (R Tronic) with paddle shift gear changers mounted behind the steering wheel but 2012-on models benefit from the excellent S Tronic automatic gearbox instead. It retains the paddles on the steering wheel, but it’s far quicker to react in manual mode and smoother when left to its own devices. The dual-clutch transmission improvemes on 0-62mph times for both the V10 and V8 models.

In the past convertibles have been seen as the poor relation to the coupe version, but the Audi provides seriously impressive levels of grip and handling.

Large tyres make for serious steering resistance at lower speeds, felt through the flat-bottomed steering wheel, but that soon dissipates and the steering is nicely weighted and perfect for plotting lines through corners with complete accuracy.

As the speeds increase, so do the aerodynamics – the rear spoiler rising up in to the airflow while the undertray helps suck the rear of the car down onto the road. Alongside the excellent quattro four-wheel drive this means the R8 delivers huge amounts of grip, instilling confidence even in novice drivers.

The R8 Spyder is certainly easy to drive quickly, and is as competent at this as it is for looking good.