Audi’s sensational new R8 Spyder

Audi R8 Spyder Plus

The Audi R8 Spyder Plus is a masterpiece – if you’re short enough to enjoy it, says Chris Carter.

Audi’s R8 has just celebrated its tenth birthday. For that alone, it deserves an award. But the R8 also pushed Germany’s least showy car brand into the stratosphere. “By combining the exotic appearance of an Italian supercar with rigorous engineering expertise, the result was an absolute blast.” At the heart of its latest R8 V10 Spyder Plus is a 5.2-litre V10 engine, shared with Lamborghini’s Huracán. And it is a cracking motor.

“Give it the full potatoes in the first three gears and you’ll need more than Mr Loophole to keep you from a stint at Her Majesty’s pleasure,” says Stuart Gallagher in Evo. “Do the same in the following three gears and you’ll want to hope the local constabulary’s helicopter hasn’t been cleared for take off.” The V10 Plus is simply a masterpiece: “intoxicating and as destructive as a fox in a chicken coop”. Retract the roof and there is no escaping its “thunderous soundtrack”. Revving is addictive and escaping from corners becomes a must.

“This is a sensationally good car,” agrees Richard Porter in The Sunday Times – but you have to be short to drive it. If you’re even a tad “peggy”, you have two options: move the seat forward and drive with your knees splayed, or move it back and sit bolt upright, “with your head making a bulge in the cloth roof”. Sure, you’ll be able to drive along. But you will never be comfy. “Audi has made a brilliant sports car that can only be enjoyed by those of average height or less.” If you’re tall, you’re stuck with the coupé.

Variant: R8 Plus 5.2 FSI quattro S tronic Spyder. Price: £149,820. Engine: 5,204cc, V10, petrol. Power: 601bhp @ 8,250rpm.
Torque: 413 lb ft @6,500rpm.  Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch sequential auto, four-wheel drive.  Acceleration: 0-62mph: 3.3sec.