We’ve been pottering in our R8 Spyder all week. Not a verb you’d normally associate with a supercar (surely this qualifies as one, rather than a sportscar). But then, that’s the point – and the weakness, according to some critics – of the R8: its everyday usability. If traditional sweaty-palmed, rear-wheel-drive, tail-happy, unpredictable supercars are your cup of tea, the R8 is not for you. Its responses are predictable and linear at all times, and it is as docile as an A3 around town.
But make no mistake, there’s a 5.2-litre V10, developing 532bhp and nearly 400lb ft of torque, sitting just behind the two seats, waiting to get going - to 62mph in 3.6sec. And, joy of all joys, it’s an increasingly rare beast: naturally aspirated, which might be reason enough for traditionalists to wander into an Audi dealership. There is, as Audi put it, “no turbo ruining the sound”. The engine just spins up the rev dial, and the power surges. That four-wheel-drive means less torque going to each wheel, which means satisfyingly high levels of traction (check out the launch control for extra laughs).
Inside, the cabin feels low and wide, with plenty of space for the larger driver, and is decked out in traditional Audi fare – a mix of smart dark plastics and leathers. A new optional Bang and Olufsen sound system comes with speakers mounted in the headrests which is a good idea in a convertible housing a noisy engine just behind your left ear. The driver’s digital binnacle turns into a huge infotainment screen, with the satnav taking over should you wish, pushing the speedo and rev dials into the far corners. And there’s Apple CarPlay on offer which, having experienced in a Volvo XC90 for six months, we sorely miss now.