Audi R8 V10 Spyder Quattro S tronic: A fresh air supercar
Every now and then, a special vehicle comes along that stirs one’s emotions and stuns virtually all of their senses – a car that is capable of upping one’s heart rate and of generating an insatiable desire or need to own it, or at least to experience time behind the wheel. Okay, even riding in such a car is capable of delivering a most exhilarating and rewarding experience. That car for this writer is the Audi R8V10 Spyder – it resides at the pinnacle of the entire Audi lineup. The R8 V10 Plus might hold that title for some, but it’s a Coupe and not a convertible.
The R8 V10 Spyder is but one of Audi’s R8 supercars – there are three engine variants from which to choose: the R8 V8; the R8 V10; and the R8 V10 Plus. All engines are available as power for the Coupe , but the V10 Plus isn’t available in the convertible Spyder. All of the engines are FSI direct fuel injection and mate to either a gated 6-speed manual gearbox, or to a new 7-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission (DCT) with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for manual gear selection at the whim of the driver, along with a Sport mode. Power is transmitted to all four wheels through the Audi quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.
The mid-mount position of the engine provides a major plus to the car’s driving dynamics, with a weight distribution of 44 percent forward and 56 percent in the rear. The engine, as the heart of the R8, is prominently showcased through the rear glass in Coupe models– with LED subdued lighting optionally available for nighttime visibility as well. The powerful V10 is barely visible through the engine bay of the Spyders.
Horsepower and torque ratings are as follows: the R8 4.2-liter V8 – delivers 430 horsepower and 316 pound feet of torque; the R8 5.2-liter V10 – pumps out 525 horsepower and 391 pound feet of torque; and the R8 V10 Plus (also a 5.2-liter) makes 550 horses while generating 398 pound feet of torque. The R8 V8’s 0-60 mph times are respectively: manual transmission 4.4 seconds Coupe; 4.6 seconds Spyder; the V10’s times with the S tronic are 3.8 seconds for the Coupe; and 4.0 seconds in the Spyder; the V10 Plus catapults from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds Coupe (M/T) in 3.3 seconds. S tronic times are reduced by .2 seconds in the V8, and by .4 seconds in regular V10 models.
The full aluminum body is constructed utilizing Audi’s Space Frame (ASF) design consisting of three major structures, creating a perfect synthesis of minimal weight and maximum rigidity and providing an ideal foundation for optimum driving dynamics, while delivering a power to weight ratio of just 8.16 lbs./hp.
Even when one beholds the R8 for the first time, its purpose and caliber is readily apparent – it sits wide and low to the ground, the accentuated rear end appearing to flex its athletic prowess, much like a sprinter (not the van) ready to leave the starting block at the sound of the gun. The car rides on a104.3-inch wheelbase, is just 174.6-inches long, and only 49.0-inches high.
The front end displays the now familiar trapezoidal styling of the Audi single-frame grille, flanked right and left by large air intakes. Audi’s four-ring badge is positioned on the hood above the grille. The flat strips of the innovative LED headlights, with their clear-glass covers, join flush to the tops of the air intakes.
The car’s profile reveals a dynamic line above the wheel arches while the shoulder line blends the front end, side, rear, and the doors along with the transition to the side air vent with a strong presence, emphatically highlighting the typical Audi rounded wheel housings that accommodate the large wheels and tires. Two pairs of circular twin exhaust pipes are housed inside larger, bright openings integrated into the fascia at the right and left above the rear diffuser.
An automatically extending rear spoiler is deployed at speed providing the R8 V10 Spyder with additional downforce, automatically retracting at lower speeds, The spoiler, may also be operated manually.
Despite the car’s compactness, the cockpit is both spacious and comfortable, situated far forward – a feature typical of mid- engined sports cars. Behind the cabin, positioned ahead of the rear axle, is the V10 FSI engine, a gem of automotive performance engineering.
The sporting interior is dominated by a totally driver-oriented cockpit layout, with the driver positioned behind the dashboard, with the high center console. separating him or her from the passenger. The instrument panel above the
console angles slightly toward the driver. The seats are highly supportive and the seats in the Spyder have a thermal-resistant leather treatment that lowers the surface temperature by up to 68 degrees for added top-down comfort. The flat- bottomed steering wheel is a typical feature of the sportiest Audi models that enhances comfortable entry and exit. There is plenty of room for the two occupants, with comfort levels well beyond the norm of most high-performance sports cars. There are two small locking compartments in the rear bulkhead of the R8 V10 Spyder, as well as an in dash locking glove box. The luggage compartment at the front has a capacity of approximately 3.5 cu. ft.
My test 2014 Audi R8 V10 Spyder was fitted with the S tronic 7-speed DCT transmission. The exterior wore an elegant Estoril Blue Crystal Pearl Effect, with the interior executed in Lunar Silver and Charcoal accented by chrome and Piano Black trim elements. The base sticker read $173,800 while extras such as: the special exterior paint; Full Fine Nappa Leather Package; Piano Black decorative inlays; 19-inch 10-spoke V10 “Y” design – high polish alloy wheel package; contrast stitching; Audi music interface with iPod cable; Gas Guzzler Tax; and Destination Charge elevated the final Monroney total to $184,350 before tax and license.
SUMMARY: The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Spyder is an attention magnet –a gorgeous vehicle that stops observers in their tracks. People follow it, take cell phone photos of it, offer thumbs up, and even shout praise.
The power generated by the 525 horses is turbine-like, up to the peak rev ranges, emitting an evocative sound to rival any Ferrari. In spite of its brute power, the car is equally suited to more docile everyday cruising as well. Romping on the throttle in Sport mode, launches the R8 V10 Spyder, pinning one to the seatback and setting all four wheels clawing at the pavement. It is capable of attaining a top track speed (electronically limited) of 193 mph. When in automatic, and set in Sport mode (which is where I left it during most of my testing), the throttle mapping and shift points change as well as the exhaust note, and rev matching is automatic in downshifts. Gear changes may also be executed manually through the paddle shifters, but once in manual mode, shifting does not default to automatic, and the rev-matching feature disappears.
The firm ride quality is a necessity for optimum performance and control, but it is not at all uncomfortable. The direct, hydraulically -assisted rack-and-pinion steering serves up a positive and on-center feel to the driver. The ‘Audi magnetic ride’ adaptive damper system allows for some manual adjustment.
The knurled aluminum automatic shift knob or gear selector is both attractive and intuitively functional. The other matching metal control knobs are also attractive and quite simply functional. The flat-bottom steering wheel provides a nice, substantial feel and aids in entry and exit as do the wide-opening doors. The auxiliary power outlet is set a bit far back, stretching some radar detector power cords to their limits, and an additional outlet would be a plus. A crabbing effect may be encountered at slow speed with the wheel turned lock-to-lock, due to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.
Audi R8s are built on a small-lot production line in a specially constructed block at the Audi plant in Neckarsulm, Germany in limited numbers.
The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Spyder is a car that, if I had the financial wherewithal, I would buy in a heartbeat, even over a Ferrari, and I would choose the 7-speed DCT automatic over the 6-speed manual gearbox for its superior and intelligent operation. I rate the R8 V10 Spyder as the perfect high-performance sports convertible with its electronic top operating in 19 seconds at up to 31 mph. It delivers stunningly gorgeous “killer” looks and an outstanding performance capability, with an old-world craftsmanship level fit and finish throughout. On a scale of one to ten, the R8 V10 Spyder deserves at least an eleven.