VIDEO: Audi R8 V10 Spyder vs BMW i8

Here is a comparison that isn’t exactly apples to apples. But it is an interesting look at two very different ways to make a supercar. On one hand, you have the Audi R8 V10 Spyder, which is entirely designed for excitement. On the other hand, you have the BMW i8, which is designed to be the most high-tech supercar possible. So which one is better and which is more enjoyable to drive? Cars.co.za finds out in this latest video.

The BMW i8 presents its argument first. Built almost entirely out of carbon fiber, the i8 is an exotic thing. Its chassis is comprised of a single-piece carbon fiber passenger tub, much like a McLaren or a Formula One car, with aluminum subframes bolted to it. So it’s kind of like a carbon fiber skateboard.

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But that’s only the tip of the technological iceberg. Its plug-in hybrid powertain consists of a 1.5 liter turbocharged I3 engine, mated to an electric motor and six-speed automatic, mounted in the middle and powering the rear wheels. Then, there’s an electric motor at the front that powers the front wheels. There’s nothing mechanically linking the two axles, yet they work together in perfect, torque-vectoring harmony.  It’s wildly impressive.

When driving the BMW i8, all of that tech is really impressive. For a bit. Once the wonder of its technology wears off, its actually driving experience is a bit cold and lifeless. In fact, the only way you can hear that turbo-triple is in Sport mode, when artificial engine noise is piped in through the speakers. So it’s very much a brain car, meaning it appeals to the intellect, with its fascinating mechanical achievements. Though, driving a supercar is supposed to be an emotional experience.

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If an emotional experience is what you’re after, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder is the car you want. In many ways, it’s the anti-BMW i8. It uses a naturally-aspirated 5.2 liter V10 engine that makes 540 hp and revs to 8,250 rpm. So rather than have a modern-age hybrid, it uses old-school displacement. It also has a traditional all-wheel drive system, where a driveshaft connects both axles and they work in tandem, thanks to a center locking-differential. Combine all of that and the R8 V10 Spyder can get from 0-60 mph in about 3.2 seconds, quite a bit faster than the i8’s 4.0 seconds.

But what makes the Audi R8 V10 Spyder so special to drive is its engine’s response and noise, not necessarily its performance. The razor sharp throttle response that can only be had from a naturally-aspirated engine and the V10 wail at 8,000 rpm create almost a religious experience. In stark contrast to the BMW i8, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder is the sort of supercar experience that makes you beg for more. The BMW i8 is a great car but the Audi R8 Spyder is the one you want.

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Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.