This feels more like a eulogy for a great and adored hero than it does a Final Drive report.
The 2015 R8 V10 Spyder represents the end of an era for super cars. As computerized technology is now the answer to achieving better performance rather than adding more power, or (perish the thought!) increased driver skill, we will never see another new machine like this Audi halo car.
Before the R8 follows suit with the tech for efficiency and speed mantra – and be assured the new car will surely be quicker, faster, more efficient, taste great and be less filling – let’s celebrate what makes a car like the R8 a true super car.
There is the performance, of course, and in this case, the numbers are still formidable. 0-100 km/h in about 4 seconds and a top speed of 313 km/h remain very impressive and in line with other big-buck Euro sports machines. And the R8 still has the looks to turn a lot of heads, even when finished in the rather subdued Suzuka Grey hue of our test car. In Spyder format, the oft-controversial side strakes are omitted leaving just a low, wide and striking form. A bright orange Lamborghini Huracan or red Ferrari 488 will drop more jaws, but even after all these years, the R8 has not lost an ounce of its sex appeal.
This R8 transcends the trivialities of on-paper performance figures and fashion for something far greater: a fully involved and immersive driving experience. This is not the car one buys to gain the advantage over his or her wealthy friends in posting fastest laps at the local track. Nor is it even the car that will always be guaranteed the primo valet spot up front.
Rather, this is the car that conjures up images and sensations of what it might’ve been like to be a Le Mans driver decades ago. Or maybe you’d imagine being a spy in the coolest action film, making a getaway from the villains. Or just the rich playboy (or girl) going for a rip up the coast with your supermodel trophy seated next to you. It is so much more than a machine – it’s a device of passion that taps into your fantasies and directly into the driver’s nervous system.
The Next Generation: First Drive: 2017 Audi R8
Take the steering, for example. It’s not the numbed experience we’ve grown to accept from modern electric units. It’s wholly and truly alive in the driver’s hands, buzzing and squirming and transmitting every single detail of the road surface and what the tires are doing there. Steering inputs are measured in imperceptible thoughts, a dimension far smaller and more precise than anything metric. It’s a throwback experience for those who have forgotten what purity in steering used to be in some of the finest sporting machines from an earlier time.