Audi R8 owners dislike the sentiment, but the German speed machine has always been the sensible supercar.
The controlled but elegant exterior styling, the impressive interior technology and its ability to make terrible drivers feel confident behind the wheel has seen it find a home with those wanting all-out performance but also a vehicle that can handle a trip to Waitrose every once in a while.
For these reasons alone, the flamboyant Lamborghini and Ferrari ownership setoften dismisses the machine as a tarted-up TT. But the latest drop-top version, the R8 Spyder, is living proof that the everyday supercar can easily mix it with the big boys.
Yes, it’s strangely comfortable and almost irritatingly adept at eating the motorway miles, but unpeel the beautifully complex fabric hood, hit the sports exhaust buttons and unleash all 533bhp from the naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 and it’s difficult not to be blown away – both physically and cognitively.
The 2016 Spyder has received some major revision under the skin, ensuring it is lighter and stiffer than ever before, while exterior styling has been sharpened, the body widened and the interior now features some of the most dazzling in-car tech on the market.
So if you’ve got a penchant for convertible supercars, a spare £130,000/$195,000 and a date with your local Lamborghini dealership, you lucky devils might want to make a date in the Moleskin diary to see the new Spyder…
Audi R8 Spyder (2016) review: Raise the roof
Let’s cut to the chase here: the reason you buy an Audi R8 Spyder is to feel the wind in your hair, the sun’s rays on your brow and the soundtrack crackling and popping in your eardrums.
To this end, the new R8 Spyder is faultless, as it’s folding fabric roof grants access to all of the above in a mere 20 seconds. Its intricate, origami-style opening and closing system is able to operate when driving at speeds of up to 31mph. With the help of a 175-bar pump and nine electro-hydraulic actuators, it carefully raises and lowers the convertible top at the press of a button.
It has been thoroughly revised to ensure it is lighter, stronger and quieter than ever too. With the main substructure made largely of lightweight materials, such as magnesium and aluminium, the roof tips the scales at just 44kg.
The entire car is just 125kg heavier than the coupe version upon which it is based, which just goes to show how much effort the engineering team has invested to ensure the drop-top is just as potent as its fixed-head sibling.
Audi R8 Spyder (2016) review: Under the skin
With the fabric roof intact and all settings switched to comfort, the R8 Spyder is a relatively quiet, refined and relaxing place to while away the hours, thanks in part to the roof structure now featuring improved wind and road noise insulation.
But lower the top, flick the Audi drive select switch to Dynamic, floor the accelerator and be prepared to have eardrums perforated. It’s loud; devilishly loud. And it’s utterly addictive.
The R8 serves up the performance bite to back up its bark, too, as the new multi-material Audi Space Frame – which is made from a complex weave of aluminium and carbon fibre – ensures the new car is 50 per cent stiffer than the outgoing model.
In short, it’s the stiffest open-top sports car on the market. And that translates into a machine that will happily gorge on corners and tear-up switchbacks until the sun sets or the fuel tank runs dry.
The 0-62mph sprint is complete in just 3.6-seconds and a top speed of 197mph is easily attainable for those with a laissez faire attitude towards the law.
But it’s the engine and gearbox that really shine. Pull back the slender levers located behind the wheel and the buttery smooth seven-speed dual-clutch transmission thumps up and down the gears with ease.
Dial in some of the more performance-related settings via the gorgeous steering wheel buttons and the driving experience becomes even more visceral, with every gear change physically punching the driver in the gut.
And that V10 engine is simply divine. The perfect antidote to hybrid power, turbocharging and the general downsizing trend currently embraced by the auto industry.
Audi R8 Spyder (2016) review: Performance and posturing
Road handling and performance prowess are nothing short of staggering here, with that naturally aspirated, dry sump V10 doing its best impression of golden-era F1 engines.
But slip the Dynamic Drive button into Comfort, raise the well-insulated roof and it rapidly becomes a comfortable cruiser. Ok, so the high doorsills and cocoon-like cockpit can be a bit tricky to slide in and out of, but once settled in, the ride is beautifully judged.
Unfortunately, there’s only really space for a backpack up front and a spare pair of pants in the door bins, so you may want to send luggage ahead, but there’s plenty of room for two adults to embark on some major road trips.
Some purists will mark the Spyder down for its lack of steering feel, but it offers a nice balance, proving to be a doddle to use in inner-city environments, yet providing enough feedback when the high performance modes are selected.
However, it remains a thirsty old beast. Despite the addition of cylinder deactivation -which shuts down a bank of cylinders when cruising to save fuel – and a free-wheeling function, expect to struggle to tickle the 20mpg mark.
Audi R8 Spyder (2016) review: Tech treats
Audi’s awesome Virtual Cockpit feels like old hat to those in the know but it doesn’t fail to impress. The marque’s MMI navigation plus system has been given a mild refresh, meaning the interface is more responsive than in earlier models.
Plus, microphones have been placed in the seatbelts for the best hands-free telephony experience possible, while an optional Audi smartphone interface now sees a phone box with inductive charging thrown into the well appointed dash.
Perhaps the biggest news on the infotainment front is the addition of a new Bang & Olufsen sound system, which is offered as an optional extra. This heavyweight, 550-watt amplifier and 13 loudspeaker system packs some seriously meaty sounds, especially when blasted out of the new head restraint-mounted speakers.
According to engineers, Audi teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute, one of the most famous R&D institutes in Germany, to create what it calls the Symphoria algorithm in order to deliver greater depth to the sound. Technical guff aside, it sounds really great.
There aren’t many cars that make you want to sell the entire contents of your home in order to scrape together a deposit, but the R8 Spyder is one such vehicle.
Easy enough to live with everyday but powerful enough to blow away even the most stubborn cobwebs, it’s a beautiful piece of engineering that’s difficult to fault.
Plus, with a price tag of around £130,000/$195,000, it represents good value for money if you squint hard enough. Especially when you consider the comparatively barebones Lamborghini Huracan Spyder costs in excess of £200,000/$300,000.