But why would you buy an Audi sold just less expensive than supercars with a legendary coat of arms, both more efficient and more impressive to watch? Yes, why?
“How much are we betting?” launches the editor of a well-known automobile magazine for sports enthusiasts, while we discuss in front of a pair of cars parked near a school at the time of the exit of the classes, somewhere on the French Riviera. “Children, do you prefer white or red?”-“The white!”, answered the schoolchildren in heart. Gee, I was wrong. I thought that a more red Audi R8 V10 would cause as many lightning strikes as a white McLaren 570S. I imagine that its doors left open, with much more theatrical kinematics than the ordinary R8 doors, will have played in favor of English. But it is important to note that the German does not impress the gallery as much as the supercars with the most prestigious coat of arms, and the more daring lines. If the freshness of the first R8 turned the heads on its way out, the relative conservatism of the traits of the second generation of the coupe seems to generate some weariness within the “cash” community. And even schoolboys, so.
A few months after this uncalled finding, I find myself with the same editor in chief in Barcelona, a place chosen by Audi to present its R8 Spyder because of its traditionally sunny climate, so ideal to try a new cabriolet of 540 horses. But after 24 hours basically spent in torrential rain and in gigantic works, my colleague still does not seem to be wrapped up in German sports. It systematically formulates the same reproaches against the R8: A direction to the felt too artificial, a delicate brake pedal to accurately meter, and a dynamic behavior overall less sharp than machines like the McLaren 570S. Admit that faced with such a sporting reference (for less than 200 000 euros), no other competitor of this price can compete in the register of pilotage purity. You will understand, my friend editor prefers the McLarens.
I am finally back in control of an R8 Spyder this time in Wales, under a menacing sky, by a cold afternoon of April. Believe it or not but after the waterspouts of water spilled on the Costa del Sol the last time, it does not rain in this British region, yet known for its toxic humidity. Perhaps it was the presence of the damn editor who was bringing the rain? Fortunately this time, it is not part of the journey. This round will be played between the German convertible, the famous roads of the “triangle Evo” and me, without any harmful element other than the risk of rain, an irritating sword of Damocles over a roadster designed to let its engine sing in the open air.
This editor, George not to mention him, was not interested in the wrong-that has certain specific details. How not to rent the versatility of such a machine, once plunged into the traffic of Manchester? McLaren and Ferrari will be able to praise the comfort of their sporting news, no supercar achieves the smooth operation of an Audi R8. The controlled damping offers a quality of filtering worthy of a luxury GT, the futuristic cockpit-although a bit sad-enjoys perfect ergonomics, and there is not even a need for “lift” to pass the donkey back (thanks to the overhang front high enough). The Double clutch box never sends a punch in the city, and masterly masters its skating. As for the engine, it willingly accepts to confine itself to a refined background noise in comfort mode, where the transmission quietly anticipates the report passages. Its extremely filtered direction never vibrates when you slide the wheels on the wrong tarmac, and it shows even lighter in maneuvers than a Porsche 911 Turbo S.
To stroll in a convertible as an American retiree on the French Riviera, the R8 Spyder is clearly the most talented supercar in its segment. I imagine that when you agree to invest almost 200 000 euros in a sport that is supposed to remain usable on a daily basis, it counts too. By the way, did you look at her? The removal of the roof greatly benefits the R8. From a somewhat bland supercar, she is propelled to the rank of movie star. Unfolded Hood, the three quarterback strike all voyeurs, in a kind more subtle than a Spyder Huracan.
But George is also wrong about the basics. This R8 Spyder is worth much more than a modest tourist GT when you dare to take it on track. On the hilly and rather vicious track of the Anglesey circuit perched on the Welsh coast, the German displays unsuspecting aptitudes for a convertible of 1612 kilos (dry), positioned as a less radical variant than the V10 plus coupe. Very neutral as long as you remain nice, it becomes lively when you start to get close to the limits. Be brutal, and you will even have to make some corrections at the wheel to temper its mobility. Come back very early on the curved gases (with ESP in track), and she will draw a nice little comma by leaving the bend without rushing into the stretchers. It is fatally vautrera in the massive (and frustrating) understeer in the case of overspeed overly pronounced, but its equilibrium at the limit really reveals itself in the track. Who would have imagined being able to take as much pleasure in an Audi cabriolet on circuit, served by a box sufficiently reactive, accompanied permanently by an atmospheric V10 as surly as melodious? Who would have thought that such a machine, with the dynamic behavior reputedly sanitized, could become as lively and interesting to fly when you attack the Chrono?
George may well argue that, unlike the McLaren, this R8 absolutely requires a circuit to get out of its natural neutrality. That, unlike English so, you could never find these traits of character starting on roads open to traffic. And he would be right: if a mountain road is enough to showcase the playful dynamic character of a 570S, surgical in its inscriptions and always volunteer to stir the rear train, the R8 merely observes a reassuring behavior. Under these conditions, it stays on a rail. It’s really only when you find a terrain that’s secure enough to reach its grip limits as it reveals its other facets.
And yet, the road experience in R8 Spyder is just as fascinating. Put in confidence by its total neutrality, you brake later before each turn of the Welsh triangle. You never wait long before you accelerate, even on the tarmac still moistened by the mist of the park of Snowdonia. You pull each report up to the switch, just to see the screen of the virtual cockpit veer to red and hear the V10 screaming with all its strengths. The car never disassembles, even when you ride nasty bumps by gulping greedily of fast curves. You ride fast, probably not much less than with an R8 V10 plus coupe developing 70 extra horsepower. This direction goes back a thousand times less information than that of the McLaren, but its accuracy and speed are very much sufficient. The stability of the car, the breathtaking engine approval, and the performance do the rest: After an hour of OG on almost empty dream roads, you are sated.
Conscious of having experienced this kind of little moment of grace which you will remember all your life, you finally lower the pace and feel the Welsh wind glaze your face, while your armpits trickle in abundance. You just still play paddles to blackmail the atmospheric V10 at your convenience, without using it at full load. The same night, you’ll sleep well.
George is not mistaken when he says that the R8 offers a less pure driving experience than the 570S. Yet despite its focus on the ease of taking over, it remains as sensational as the English in its own way. For sure, its epicurean motorization and the amputation of its roof play for many. But in this configuration, and only in this configuration, the R8 proudly holds its rank of dream machine by lavishing prodigious shocks of adrenaline. More memorable than those inflicted by a McLaren with the perfect dynamic behavior? For me, yes. Don’t listen to the jaded chief editors of motor magazines.