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13 Nov 2014

Audi R8

Audi R8 V10 Spyder

Topless is more fun

Text and photos: Reinis Babrovskis

We can all agree that supercars are crazy, silly and unpractical yet somehow we just can’t stop admiring them. They are designed to look astonishing, sound scary and go ridiculously fast. One thing they are not designed to do though is to behave like normal cars. In my opinion many of them just get lost in the real world –(again here?) they (just?) don’t fit in on the public roads nor do they look right at home on a track, so where do they belong? It seems supercars are just toys, an expensive interior decoration for a fancy garage. However one of the supercars that managed to break the stereotype was the magnificent Audi R8.

Following the huge success of the Audi R8 sports car in the Le Mans series, the German car manufacturer decided to celebrate it by building a road version of the car. The car designer, Walter de’Silva, based it on the 2003 Audi Le Mans Quattro concept car. Audi announced their intentions in 2005 and introduced the car to the general public on September 30, 2006. As a result of the modern fashion of being a bit more revealing 3 years after the launch of the original R8 Audi decided go a topless Audi R8 V10 Spyder model was released. 
All R8 models were designed, developed and manufactured exclusively by the German car manufacturer subsidiary company Quattro GmbH. It takes 70 workers to fit 5000 different parts by hand to complete each of these magnificent vehicles. As soon as the car was released car journalists and drivers around the World described the supercar as a game changer. Some people, including the 6 time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Jacky Ickx, went as far as describing the Audi R8 as “the best handling road car today”. So why is the R8 so different to any other ludicrous supercars?
The Audi R8 V10 Spyder is a mid-engine 2 seater convertible supercar, which is entirely based on the Lamborghini Gallardo platform, sharing the same Audi aluminium monocoque space frame and engine. The ultra-rigid chassis and frame of the R8 combined with the permanent all-wheel drive system delivers a handling precision of a race car. Audi obsession with perfection can be seen in all aspects of the car – the suspension uses BWI Group’s magneto rheological dampers, huge ceramic brakes that cost more than an average car help the car to stop very quickly. The Spyder received further chassis support and roll-over safety bars for extra safety. Other driver aids include Electronic Stability Programme, ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Anti-Slip Regulation and Electronic Differential Lock – tools that make any driver confident in order to push the car to the limits and beyond. The extra weight of 100kg and the lack of roof allegedly do affect the handling of the Spyder; however, unless your name is Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel I doubt one would notice the difference; further to that once the roof is down you forget about the small problems anyway.
The body and styling of the Audi R8 Spyder is spectacular from any angle; most noticeable difference of the Spyder (apart from the lack of the roof obviously) is the absence of the sideblades. The traditional lines of the de’Silva can be seen on every panel. The smooth curved front end has been enhanced with the help of the black huge front grille and aggressive design front headlights with LED strip mounted inside the xenon HID headlamp casing. A lack of roof for many cars leads to a rather poor and bland look, like something is not finished; however de’Silva resolved that by adding dome dramatic blades on the back. The silver and red combo works perfectly and there is no surprise why the R8 Spyder was the choice of the Iron Man.

While the majority of the supercars overcomplicate things, Audi stuck to the proved values – simplicity is the key; the interior of the R8 is very elegant, user friendly and refined. It is a lovely place to be in and if there wasn’t for the growl at the back you could forget you’re actually in a supercar. A lovely flat bottom steering wheel covered in leather, black leather trim door cards, glass gauge cover, beautiful aluminium dials and gear stick and R8 emblem’s embedded in the side skirts that light up are just some of design masterpieces of the R8 interior. 
The Spyder is powered by the 5.2 FSI V10 engine that can also be found in the back of the Lamborghini Gallardo. The naturally aspirated 5,2004 cc V10 40 valve DOHC engine produces 525bhp and 530Nm. The engine is attached to a 6 speed Audi R-Tronic gearbox that was criticised by many car journalists. Once released on the R8 it was described as very disappointing, I on the other hand, think it felt very responsive and quick on the spirited run during the shoot. The performance of the engine is superb, acceleration from 0-60 for the R8 Spyder takes mere 4.1 seconds and it goes all the way to 194mph. The screaming noise of the V10 is a soundtrack to any petrol heads ears. Audi have outdone themselves this time – for those who wish to listen to the explosions in the cylinders with the roof up, a simple press of a button would open a compartment between the cabin and the engine bay at the back. 
So it is a very advanced and refined supercar that allows the driver to enjoy the speed safely, giving you a wonderful soundtrack and providing a peaceful and elegant interior and the glamorous exterior. But what is really that makes it so special? It is the fact it works – on the track and on the road, it fits in everywhere, it never looks out of the place. This supercar without a doubt can be one’s daily car; it effortlessly goes over any speed bumps, the seats are comfortable - you won’t need a visit to a physiotherapist after each road trip , the V10 will return a respectable 19mpg and you will be able to go to a business meeting and track and still look good. Like any supercar it will have the cons- large family trips are out of the question, the luggage compartment perfectly matches the size restrictions of an airline company and the servicing costs would break your heart, but at the end of the day it is a supercar. 
Audi had come up with the perfect supercar, and having the chance to enjoy the scenic roads topless just adds to the driving experience. Thumbs up Audi!


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