2014 Audi R8 V10 Spyder

The R8 V10 Spyder is the convertible version of Audi 's mid-engined, 10-cylinder R8 supercar. As with its fixed-roof sibling, the R8 V10 Spyder is based on the same platform as the Lamborghini Gallardo and features an excellent balance of extreme performance and docile around-town driving manners. For those seeking a more affordable everyday exotic, Audi offers coupe and drop-top versions of the R8 with a V8.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, Audi freshened the R8 Spyder V10's styling and replaced the antiquated six-speed single-clutch gearbox with a thoroughly modern seven-speed dual-clutch unit that improves efficiency and provides smoother, quicker shifts.

Overview
Though it's beginning to get on in years, the R8 remains one of more appealing supercars on the market due to a mix of stirring driving dynamics, surprising practicality and, of course, double take-inducing good looks.

The last point is especially true of the R8 V10 Spyder, which builds on the exotic appearance and mid-engine proportions of the V8 model with larger side air intakes, more aggressive side sills and upsized wheels. Revised headlights, taillights, bumpers and other minor stylistic updates help cognoscenti tell the latest model apart from its predecessor. Notably, The V10 Spyder does without the aluminum "side blades" that distinguish fixed-roof R8s; other differences from the coupe include additional air intakes located behind the seats and safety roll bars

Like much else in the R8 V10 Spyder, the arresting sheetmetal is constructed from aluminum in order to keep performance-sapping mass to a minimum.

As the supercar's name suggests, it's powered by a 5.2-liter V10. Sourced from Lamborghini, the mill produces 525 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 391 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm in addition to thrilling noises throughout the rev range Maximum engine speed is a staggering 8,700 rpm. A gated six-speed manual that clacks its way through the gears like a glorious vintage Italian sports car is standard, but maximum performance times are achieved with the available seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

With the dual-clutch fitted, the R8 is capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds. Top speed is quoted at 193 mph.

Making the most of the R8 V10 Spyder's power is a quattro four-wheel drive system that distributes output variably to the front and rear axles by way of a viscous clutch. It's a boon for acceleration and also makes the car more sure-footed than many of its peers when the weather turns ugly.

Fuel economy - rarely a point of interest for supercar buyers - suffers from the potent V10 and all-wheel-drive. The stick-shifted model returns 12/19 city/highway mpg, while the dual-clutch-equipped variant is good for 13/22 mpg.

Along with aluminum double wishbones at the front and rear, the suspension features an 'Audi magnetic ride' adaptive damper system that can be configured to provide sporty driving dynamics or a softer ride. The latter is cushy enough that the R8 Spyder V10 could conceivably be used as a daily driver. Extra chassis bracing means that the Spyder is nearly as stiff as its coupe counterpart.

Direct, hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering offers a feedback-filled, characterful counterpoint to the numb electric-assist systems that feature in many modern performance machines.

The Inside Story
The cabin matches the visual drama of the exterior thanks to details such as sweeping trim and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and high-quality materials are employed throughout. Buyers looking for an even more luxurious experience can choose from a long list of optional extra, including supple Nappa leather upholstery, an alcantara headliner and carbon fiber trim.

While there's plenty of space for driver and passenger, the R8 V10 isn't blessed with an overabundance of trunk space. The front trunk (known as a frunk) measures just 3.5 cubic feet and is oddly shaped.

Navigation and entertainment functions are accessed through Audi's MMI system, which is one of the more intuitive infotainment setups on the market. However, unlike in other Audi models, the R8's MMI controls aren't located in an easily accessible position center - instead, they're mounted somewhat awkwardly on the dash. Luckily, a standard voice command system eliminates this problem.

The cloth convertible top weighs just 93 pounds, helping to keep the car's center of gravity down low, and can be raised or lowered in just 19 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph.

Equipment and Trim
Standard features on the R8 Spyder V10 include supple Nappa leather upholstery, a navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic, a seven-speaker, a 12 speaker, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen AM/FM/CD stereo system with SiriusXM satellite radio, heated seats, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, front and rear ultrasonic parking sensors and full LED exterior lighting.

The Storage Package, optional on the V8, is standard here; it adds two nets on the back of the seats, a luggage net on the rear shelf and a folding compartment under the passenger seat.

Available options include the Full Fine Nappa Leather Package, extends the Nappa treatment from the seats to the door inserts, dashboard and instrument panel. There's also the Diamond Stitch Full Leather Package, which adds an exquisite diamond stitching pattern to the seats and door inserts.

Occupant Safety
Dual front, side/thorax and knee airbags are fitted as standard. Traction and stability control systems and electronic brake assist are also included.

Craftsmanship
The R8 V10 is built on a small-lot production line in a specially constructed block at the Audi plant in Neckarsulm. The entire production process -- from the bodyshell construction to final assembly -- is organized in the same way as a craft workshop. Small teams of specialists accompany every step of production, ensuring that every car built is up to quality standards.

Key Competitors
Although the R8 V10 Spyder provides an appealing mix of style, power and handling, these attributes are also shared by rivals like the Ferrari 458 Spider, the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Roadster.