A devil prowls the streets

2011-04-30 07:46

Luxury cars – like smartphones – are becoming a dime a dozen on our roads, so when one arrives that makes people stop and stare, you know you’ve found a winner.

The Audi R8 Spyder is precisely such a car.

Its looks can only be described as devilishly sexy as the Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster – without the suicide doors. A love affair with this supercar inevitably ensues when driving it.

The R8 sits very low on the ground, and the convertible Spyder looks even lower and wider – like a black widow spider ready to pounce on a hapless fly.

This, of course, means that getting in and out can be a tricky – if not outright clumsy – exercise. You need to know just how far to open the heavy door so you don’t bang it against the car next to you or stumble out because it’s so low. And, mind you, getting out of a car that is so close to the ground takes some skill – especially when wearing a skirt or high heels.

The R8 Spyder V10 is powered by the same 5.2 litre V10 engine as the coupé. Even though it’s a very heavy car, it still manages zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds. It has a top speed of 313km/h while power is driven to all four wheels by Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.

It comes standard with the multimedia infotainment and navigation system, a reverse parking camera and heated Nappa leather seats. Its 19-inch rims fit snugly in the wide wheel arches and the nifty Bang and Olufsen music system ensures crisp sound when you’re cruising around the lake or giving chase to the wind.

The Spyder is available in the six-speed manual or the R-tronic sequential gearbox, which I tested. Personally, I prefer the manual because it’s a sportscar and I absolutely love that clanking sound of metal against metal when changing gears.
The six-disc CD player is annoyingly hidden away in the glove box, but, then again, in a car like this all you need is the top down to hear the amplified exhaust sounds right behind your ears. It’s a deafening thrill and only makes you want to keep your foot on the throttle.

I liked that the classic fabric top can open and close in just 19 seconds with a one-touch button. The car doesn’t have to be stopped to operate it as long as it is not travelling more than 50km/h. And typical of sportscars, the boot space is very small.

Unlike the coupé, the only thing I don’t like about the Spyder is that it has zero space behind the two seats. The rear engine bonnet is covered in carbon fibre and has big aluminium air outlets to give it an aggressive stance. Also, the air conditioning could be ­improved.

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