Audi R8 Spyder V10

PPerformance quattro

Audi R8, front
Audi R8, front
Audi R8, side
Audi R8, rear
Audi R8, rear
Audi R8, rear
Audi R8, interior

AUDI'S R8 supercar just keeps getting, well more super.

Not so long ago the R8 you bought boasted 532bhp and had a top speed just shy of 200 miles per hour.

Now if you opt for the most extreme V10 Performance model you get a two-seater sports car with 611bhp and a top speed of 205mph.

That's a far cry from the first V8-powered R8 model I drove 12 years ago which had a more modest 420bhp and a top speed of 187mph.

As with all good things, however, improvements come at a cost and in the more glamorous Spyder convertible form the basic price of the R8 is now £150,000.

With a number of extras the car driven here is a bank manager-frightening £170,000.

But in the world of supercars R8 prices - perhaps they should call it R10 now it‘s got 10 cylinders rather than eight - are still relatively modest for a car with such breathtaking performance.

The naturally aspirated V10 Performance model is the flagship of the range and has the sort of blistering performance that is normally more associated with track cars.

Never was Audi's "born on the track, built for the road" philosophy more appropriate for a car.

Press the race track-like red starter button on the flat bottomed steering wheel and the giant engine bursts into life with an ear splitting roar before settling down to a more gentle burble on tick over.

Slip the gearshift into drive and as you move off there's no disguising the eagerness of the giant engine behind your head to be out on the open road.

As soon as you put any real pressure on the accelerator the R8 takes off like few cars can, hitting 62mph in a blistering 3.2 seconds while pushing you firmly back into the Recaro bucket seat.

The performance is breathtaking and if you are accelerating hard the horizon comes up to meet you very quickly.

But it's a vehicle that it's easy to feel very comfortable in as the cockpit wraps itself around you, making driver and car as one. The only negative side is the absence of backrest adjustment on the high-backed bucket seats.

Unlike a lot of high performance cars the R8 Spyder does have a gentler side too. Leave the drive select in comfort or auto - there's also dynamic and individual - and you can potter along through towns and cities quite comfortably at low speed. There's even a coast facility to help you save fuel.

And with a hood that retracts in just 20 seconds and can be lowered at town driving speeds it's ideal.

It's this flexibility which makes the R8 - unlike some of its rivals - easy to live with as an everyday car.

There have been a few design changes to the latest R8 but it's mainly to the nose and grille to make it look even sleeker.

And suspension changes make its handling even sharper while improvements to the Electronic Stabilisation Control reduce braking distances.

If there is a downside to the R8 it's the small luggage space, which is under the bonnet. A couple of soft bags for the weekend fit in at a squash but forget suitcases.

FAST FACTS

Audi R8 Spyder V10 PPerformance quattro

Price: £149,890

Mechanical: 611bhp, 5,204cc, 10cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 204 mph

0-62mph: 3.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 21.1

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 302g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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