For decades, if you want a mid-engined exotic convertible, you have to look to the Italian brands. Ferrari and Lamborghini sort of had that segment locked down for ages. Now, though, both the British and the Germans have been getting into this game, with cars like the McLaren 650S Spider and Audi R8 Spyder, respectively. The latter of which actually shares much of its DNA with the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. But we’ll skip over that because it hurts my point a little bit and doing so seems common these days.
Car and Driver recently tested the Audi R8 Spyder to see if it’s any softer or less dynamic than the standard coupe. And, indeed it does. But not as much as one might expect and not enough to make the experience any worse. In fact, depending on what you’re looking for, it could have gotten better.
Thanks to the extra weight and lack of torsional rigidity over the coupe, the R8 Spyder is slower. It’s not as sharp to tackle canyon roads with and its suspension is softer. However, that hasn’t really made it any worse. The steering is still very accurate and sharp, the chassis is still accurate, just a bit less so than the coupe, and it’s still blisteringly quick. The 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 can get the R8 Spyder from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds. So it’s hard to consider that slow. It’s just slower than the R8 V10 Plus’ 2.8 seconds sprint.
However, it makes up for all of that by being a different kind of thrilling. Drop the top and there’s only open air that comes in between you and the glorious sound of that free-breathing V10. With every performance car switching to turbochargers, naturally-aspirated engines need to be celebrated. Especially when they sound as magnificent as this one. A great feature of the Audi R8 Spyder is that you can drop the rear window while keeping the top and side windows up. So you can even hear that sonorous engine, unencumbered, in bad weather.
The Audi R8 Spyder is softer, slower and less dynamically thrilling than the coupe, even if only by a bit. But it’s added comfort and million miles of headroom make it a better grand tourer. Throw in the extra exhaust sound and drop-top looks and the R8 Spyder is exciting in its own right.