Audi R8 Spyder: 1st report from the Drivetribe Garage
A naturally aspirated V10 engine joins DRIVETRIBE’s fleet. It comes with a car, too
The bad news first: I live in London and DRIVETRIBE’s new Audi R8 Spyder spends some of its life parked on the streets or crawling along in congestion.
Now the good news. Within a week of arriving we’d sent the R8 back to Audi. Not because of any technical fault, but because Henry wanted to take it down to the Alps and hunt out a few passes before the snow came and closed them for the season – and that meant switching out the summer tyres for a set of heavily siped winters. (The video will be live on Tribe Nation at the end of the week, and a very fine job Henry and Sam Riley have done too).
And then, no sooner was it back, but it was Christmas, so the R8, my better half and I have just spent two weeks touring the country. It’s been up to Yorkshire, across to Chester, further north for a 94th birthday, then into the Forest of Bowland for New Year’s, back to Yorkshire, before cutting across the country to the Cotswolds, and ultimately heading back to London.
Which is a long-winded way of saying we’re using the R8 properly.
No garage, no winter hibernation with a trickle charger that keeps that battery primed while there’s salt on the road, rather the R8 is and will be used in all weathers and for anything and everything we can think of. There might be the odd hiatus when it spends a working week untouched, but whenever we can for features or videos on DRIVETRIBE, and whenever we can for the sheer enjoyment of it, the R8 will be on the move.
Does that mean we’ll be using it like a typical R8 owner? Perhaps not, but with the keys to this in your pocket, why would you use it any way other than as often as possible? With the life of the naturally aspirated engine severely limited, how many more cars like this will there be? Which is why we’ve covered over 3500 in two months, and keep adding to that number as often as possible. This won't be a representative test, but would you rather it be kept tucked away and only occasionally taken out, or used by a couple of friends who can't believe their luck? I mean, I've just taken it on a walking holiday…
Which means the only fault we have with it so far is the lack of boot space. A 911 has a bigger boot, a McLaren Super Series also has cubbyholes beneath the tonneau once its roof is up, but the R8 has rather less. Lift the clamshell bonnet and there’s a wider shelf at the top, and a narrow space down in the bowels. Drop in the sort of roll-on case you’d take on a flight, and the latter’s full. Then add in the walking boots, and thermal clothing in a plastic bag, and the puncture repair kit (would you leave it behind when you’re planning to propose on the same trip?) and the boot's full. Which means my future wife then put up with my sports bag besides her legs, her handbag in her lap, and my rucksack between us, while I added another bag beneath my legs.
This probably isn't how most R8 owners travel. I suspect they'll have another car. And I suspect none of them have ever arrived at a hotel like this. But while it's definitely a not a car for a fortnight away, it's perhaps not one for a weekend away either. The weekly shop? That’ll be one for a Tesco home delivery.
But if that frustrates, the engine makes us fizz. It’s a 533bhp 5.2-litre V10, and you can forget your turbos and that the imminent new McLaren will have 700bhp+. Frankly I’d take the R8’s crisp throttle response over another 100bhp and 100lb ft. And the noise? Henry's video, out on Friday, will let you experience that properly…