THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The R8 Spyder is a stunning looking car that has a sound you will never get tired of hearing.
- What’s Worst: If you are six-feet tall you’ll feel a little cramped.
- What’s Interesting: I could watch the convertible top go up and down all day.
Sometimes the stars align.
And a few weeks ago they did when I was given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 2017 Audi R8 Spyder for one week.
Never, have I been more nervous getting about behind the wheel of a car.
As I read the information package while walking to the Audi lot in Ajax after picking up the keys, I began to sweat a little.
I have never driven a car valued at $230,685. That was more than I paid for my house in 1991.
But that nervousness began to fade as I walked towards the Spyder convertible sitting in the lot. And my smile grew even wider when I turned it on and heard that exhaust.
I knew I would be driving this car a lot during the week without listening to the radio, just so I could hear the exhaust.
As I pulled into work, never have so many of my co-workers headed outside to take a look at a car or take pictures. It was the star at the office that week. I played chauffeur a number of times and didn’t mind one bit.
First let me get the negative things about the car out of the way. The list is very small.
The front visors offer no help from the sun. They are too small.
If you are six feet or taller, sitting in the R8 will be a little cramped. A few passengers commented how they had to sit with their legs bent. Those passengers five-feet 10 inches tall or less noted the seat was very comfortable.
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My gas bill for the week was $117. That had a lot to do with the drives but also with the R8 using premium gas.
Now to talk about the positives of the R8, and there are plenty.
The top can be opened even while you are driving less than 30 km/h but I never attempted that. The cockpit of the R8 is different than anything I had ever seen before. It reminded me of seeing cockpits in small airplanes.
The start button is located in red on the steering wheel.
Push it and the R8 comes to life.
What a great sound – low, throaty rumbling you will never get tired of hearing.
The Spyder can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds and I can attest that you are thrown back into your seat when you touch the accelerator.
The V10 DOHC direct injection engine with S tronic transmission offers 540 hp and 398 lb/ft of torque. Top speed is 318 km/h.
I was asked a number of times how fast I got the R8 to on Hwy. 401 but my answer was always the same. I could never go as fast as I hoped because the highway, no matter what time of day you are on it, is always busy.
Man how I would have loved to take the R8 up to Mosport for a few hours. Crawling along in traffic on the long weekend in August with the top down, I had a number of other drivers put their windows down to yell over how nice the car looked.
To the left of the start button is the drive select button. There are four settings, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual. I left the R8 in comfort or auto for most of the week.
Dynamic opens the exhaust and allows a sharper sound when the car is running but I didn’t like how the car reacted as it down shifted.
It was almost as if a novice was driving a stick shift for the first time and was not able to gear down properly. Both comfort and auto provided a smooth, satisfying drive during the week.
The R8 has a long list of standard features including a tire pressure monitoring system, front spoiler, rearview camera and LED headlights.
My tester for the week had a number of optional features including ceramic brakes at $11,300 and diamond quilted leather interior at $4,300.
The interior of the R8 is stunning, especially the dashboard. With the navigation system on, a map showing where you are fills the dashboard with two large digital dials on either side showing your speed and the rpms.
Press a button and those two dials shrink and move further to the left and down until the whole dashboard is filled with the map.
The buttons for the air conditioning are also standouts and everything you need is easy to use and within reach. The red seats with the black interior are very pleasing to the eye. Parking sensors in the front also help you from hitting a curb.
But all is not perfect as the R8 has only 112 litres of space in the front trunk.
You might be able to get a briefcase or a few grocery bags in it but if you are heading to the golf course, you’ll be putting them in the passenger seat.
I’ll never own an R8 unless I win a lottery but I can understand why people buy them.
This is a machine that feels right from the moment you sit in it.
Also Read: Jason’s First Rides Supercar roundup
2017 Audi R8 Spyder
BODY STYLE: Two-seat supercar
DRIVE METHOD: Rear-engine, Audi quattro all-wheel-drive, seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
ENGINE: 5.2-litre V10 DOHC direct injection (540 hp, 396 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 16.8/10.6L/100km (city/hwy)
CARGO CAPACITY: 112 litres in trunk.
PRICE: Base price $198,100; as tested, $230,685.