Just look at it. The sleek curves, exotic red metallic paint, those satanic front headlines, the muscular stance. There’s no denying the Audi R8 Spyder is a beautiful car, perhaps one of the most beautiful cars to be designed in the last five years, heck, the last ten years. Spend any time with this vehicle and you’ll soon realise it has an undeniable magnetism, not just attracting fans of the four-wheel variety but also the average passer-by; they just can’t help having a long, slack-jawed stare as it rumbles past.
Things aren’t too shabby under the bonnet either (well boot, it’s a mid-engined car after all). The 5.2 litre, V 10 engine is quite simply astonishing. Turn the key, depress the clutch and listen to the monster fire up. I can only describe it as sounding something like Chewbacca with a hangover… and a sore throat… stubbing his toe on a low table… while attempting to sing a Louis Armstrong song in slow motion... you get the idea, it’s loud, deep and loud. Slot the manual gearbox into first with a satisfying mechanical clunk and pull away. The noise is sensational, endorphins instantly flood the brain and with every subsequent up-change the grin gets wider and wider. 62 mph is done in 3.2 seconds and in just 12.3 seconds the speedometer reads a license-endangering 124 mph. So there’s no questioning that this supercar is fast too, but what about the drive you say?
Well, in short, easy and rewarding. The clutch is light, the handling is safe thanks to the Audi all-wheel-drive Quattro system and the chassis is set up so perfectly you’d hardly notice the last corner was just taken at 90 mph. Really, it’s not like driving a supercar at all. When most manufacturers design a supercar they weave in ways to make the driver shit themselves on a regular basis.
I’ve driven Aston Martin’s where the gearbox has suddenly decided to not allow me into reverse. I’ve driven Lotuses that all of a sudden lose traction and spin you off the road. I’ve driven a Ferrari whose window wipers failed to work during a hail storm. I’ve also driven a Jaguar that nearly killed me but that’s a different story. You just can’t picture this happening in the Audi R8, it’s just too well-made, too German. The model I drove featured all-over parking sensors, a reverse camera with a heads-up display that would make an F-15 fighter jet blush and a Sat-Nav system that I just couldn’t fault. Now if you were being fussy you could argue that this isn’t a supercar. You’re wrong.
The Audi R8 may just be the first supercar that delivers the thrills without the usual headaches, a supercar of the future if you will. You can’t argue at Lamborghini-baiting performance with a combined fuel economy just shy of 20 miles per gallon. I’ll back that too as almost four days of motoring was carried out on a tank and a half. Compare that to say the Bentley Continental GTC and it looks like a SmartCar in comparison. In summary, it’s fair to say if I had a spare £116,000 kicking around I’d buy one. Actually I wouldn’t.
"The noise is sensational, endorphins instantly flood the brain and with every subsequent up-change the grin gets wider and wider."
It’s not the performance, the handling, the build quality or the gorgeous convertible roof… it’s the attention this thing generates. You just couldn’t live with it. It’s like driving around in Tom Cruise for a day with the constant requests for photography, questions on the car itself and unnerving behaviour from slightly too forward fans.
Let me run you through some of the rubbish you have to put up with driving this thing.
Three thumbs up from three different central London drivers (awkward). One businessman running over while stopped at a traffic light just to say ‘nice car’ (annoying). One wanker sign from a group of kids at a bus stop (standard). One man repeatedly almost running into the back of me because he was trying to get a closer look of the spoiler (dangerous).
One Norwich local approached the car while at traffic light and almost attempted to get in (plain frightening). Three blinding flashes from oncoming drivers (irritating). One overly long conversation with a man at the petrol pumps (boring). One even longer conversation with a man in a car park who once owned a TVR (no one cares).
Parked up in Cromer the car received at least six full photo shoots from passers-by, two kids were allowed to sit in the driver’s seat for pictures (begrudgingly). One more wanker sign by a man in a Renault Megane (jealous). Paintwork and windows now grubby from various people peering in (frustrating). One massive bird shit on the bonnet (washed off quickly, that stuff’s acidic).
Driving back to London the car was deliberately cut-up twice (expected). Almost run into by one man in a Vauxhall Astra attempting to initiate some sort of street race (prick). Filmed by one man driving with his knees while operating a cameraphone (impressive). One carful of lads, all hanging out of the windows shouting stuff I couldn’t decipher, crossed three lanes and nearly hit a car in front (end of tether).
The Audi R8 Spyder makes people act mental then. I know a lot of people may be thinking ‘that’s the point of a supercar, to show off and that’. Well yes it is but it really grates after a while. I started to feel like I needed to carry a gun in the glove box by the end of it and I was almost glad when it was removed from my parking space Monday morning. I couldn’t handle another sleepless night worrying someone might be tagging the bonnet or pissing on the back wheel.
So next time you see someone driving a Bugatti Veyron, Aston Martin DBS or Lamborghini Superlegerra hold fire on the jealous expletives. Take a step back and think ‘I bet those poor saps have to put up with a ridiculous amount of unwanted attention… the poor little lambs’.
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