Convertible performance car that anyone can drive
- Extremely fast
- Easy to drive
- Safe, fun cornering
- High-tech cabin
- Strong resale values
- Not much storage room
- No one-touch roof switch
- Expensive to run
- Options can add silly money
The Audi R8 Spyder is the convertible version of the carmaker’s flagship Coupe. It’s a six-figure sports car with a huge V10 engine and engaging all-wheel drive handling.
Rivals include the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, Ferrari California T and Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster – prestigious company to keep – but the Audi does a great job of remaining close to the top of the class.
We’d be remiss not to mention the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder here too, because underneath that and the R8 share many parts. Both companies will tell you they're aimed at different buyers, though.
What makes the 2016 Audi R8 Spyder so good?
It does so well thanks to its sheer breadth of ability. It’s just as at home on a race track as it is pootling to your local supermarket for some milk.
Thanks to the slick seven-speed S tronic gearbox it’s simple to harness the performance on offer, and its 80-litre fuel tank makes for a long range between fill-ups too.
The fabric roof takes 20 seconds to lower and works at speeds of up to 31mph, adding further practicality, but it isn’t all good news. We wish the roof switch was a one-touch affair like the A5 Cabriolet's, and the amount of storage space in an R8 Spyder isn’t what you’d call generous.
There isn’t a huge amount of choice here in terms of trim levels. In fact, there’s just one, but you get a good level of kit thrown in.
No R8 Spyder will leave the factory like that, though. Every single one gets some level of personalisation, and your Audi salesperson will be thrilled to guide you through the encyclopaedic list of optional extras. Through the Audi Exclusive programme you can have your car in literally any colour you can think of.
Audi R8 Spyder Plus revealed in 2017
For those who need more performance, a faster Plus version of this car was announced in June 2017, with deliveries to follow later in the same year. The headline stat here is a horsepower hike to 610hp with torque of 560Nm, so the 0-62mph sprint drops to 3.3 seconds and top speed climbs to 203mph.
Limited edition RWS version
Unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder RWS (Rear-Wheel Series) is a limited edition rear-wheel drive version of the standard R8 Spyder. Delivering 540hp and 540Nm of torque, it’s capable of launching from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 197mph.
Weighing in at 1,680kg the R8 V10 Spyder RWS is 40kg lighter than the equivalent Quattro all-wheel drive model. All RWS cars come with black-finished 19-inch cast aluminium wheels as standard with an optional red racing stripe also available. Available from mid-September, production will be limited to 999 units with pricing starting from £118,690.
The Parkers Verdict
The R8 Spyder is a mightily impressive machine. It does have its drawbacks in practicality and running cost stakes, but makes up for it with one of the best engines around, supreme refinement and grippy yet entertaining handling. It’s the convertible performance car that anyone can drive.