Full 2009 Spyker C8 Review
What's New for 2009
The Spyker C8 exotic sports car makes its North American debut for 2009.
Spyker is a rarity in this era of automaker conglomerates and dwindling consumer demand -- it's an independent company that builds exotic sports cars by hand. The Spyker name goes back to the late 19th century, when it was attached to a Dutch company that built cars and airplanes before going bankrupt in the 1920s. In 1999, a pair of Dutch businessmen bought the rights to the name and started a new company dedicated to building bespoke supercars for wealthy enthusiasts. Ten years later, the 2009 Spyker C8 makes its debut as the first Spyker to be sold in North America.
The 2009 Spyker C8 lineup consists of three distinct models: the C8 Laviolette coupe, the C8 Spyder (a soft-top version of the Laviolette) and the C8 Aileron coupe. The Laviolette and Spyder have been on sale in Europe for some time, while the C8 Aileron is a new design featuring unique styling, a redone dashboard and a revamped, long-wheelbase version of the C8 chassis. All C8s are powered by a mid-mounted 4.2-liter Audi V8 tuned to produce an even 400 horsepower, and all employ a six-speed manual transmission save for the Aileron, which has an optional six-speed automatic. The approximately 3,000-pound C8 is also far lighter than most supercars thanks to its extensive use of aluminum construction.
Having been designed from the ground up as an exclusive exotic sports car, the 2009 Spyker C8 truly looks like nothing else on the road. The Laviolette and Spyder feature numerous details inspired by aircraft, from "Aeroblade" 19-inch wheels to the car's various scoops and vents. Yet the aesthetic highlight of the Spyker C8 is undoubtedly its sumptuous and singularly stylish interior. Highlighted by full leather upholstery, a brushed-aluminum dashboard (turned aluminum by request), knurled aluminum knobs and a resplendent exposed gearshift linkage, the C8's cabin wouldn't look out of place in an art museum.
The C8's handling credentials are certainly impressive, from its precise manual steering and Lotus-tuned fully adjustable suspension to its massive brakes with six-pot calipers. And while the Audi V8 is projected to yield a relatively unimpressive 0-60-mph sprint of around 4.5 seconds, it sounds so good that buyers won't lose any sleep over, say, the Nissan GT-R's ability to shave a second off that time for a fraction of the C8's price. But let's be realistic: The main draw of this car is not its performance, but rather its exclusive craftsmanship and style. The 2009 Spyker C8 Aileron is the pinnacle of automotive high fashion -- can you think of another car for which a $5,000 Louis Vuitton tool kit can be specified? -- so its impressive capabilities will likely be perceived as just icing on the cake.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Spyker C8 is an exotic sports car available in three versions: C8 Laviolette, C8 Spyder and longer-wheelbase C8 Aileron. Standard features for the C8 Laviolette include 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, keyless entry/ignition, electrically operated single-hinge tilting doors, full leather upholstery, air-conditioning and a CD sound system. The C8 Spyder shares the C8 Laviolette's equipment roster while adding a power-assisted soft top in place of the Laviolette's fixed roof. The C8 Aileron adds a unique dashboard design with a multifunction LCD display, a navigation system and a six-speaker Kharma sound system with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. A Spyder version of the Aileron is scheduled to appear later in the model year.
As you'd expect of a hand-built exotic car, the Spyker C8 offers a mind-boggling array of options, including riveted body panels, 19-inch alloys ("Aeroblade" for Laviolette/Spyder, "Rotorblade" for Aileron), stereo upgrades, heated seats, quilted leather upholstery, an aluminum dashboard, a Louis Vuitton custom luggage set, a Louis Vuitton tool kit, Chronoswiss dials, Alcantara interior trim and bespoke exterior and interior color schemes.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2009 Spyker C8 is powered by a 4.2-liter V8 that cranks out 400 hp and 354 pound-feet of torque. C8 Laviolette and Spyder models have a six-speed manual transmission, while the C8 Aileron offers either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Spyker estimates a 0-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds for the C8. EPA fuel economy estimates are 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined.
To comply with American regulations, the C8 Laviolette and Spyder have been fitted with a steering-wheel airbag in place of the Euro-spec propeller-shaped four-spoke wheel. The C8 Aileron adds a passenger airbag. Antilock brakes are standard, but neither stability nor traction control is available.
Interior Design and Special Features
Merely entering the 2009 Spyker C8's cabin is an exercise in wretched but endearing excess. A button sends the door scissoring skyward on a single-damped hinge in an impressive display of engineering sophistication. From the snug leather sport seat, the airplane-style red safety latch atop the ignition switch beckons. Flip up the latch, flick the switch and press the start button, and the mid-mounted V8 fires to life. A glance around the interior reveals a similar level of attention to detail, from the fully exposed gear linkage to the available chronometer-style gauges. Countless optional interior upgrades and color combinations ensure that no two C8s will be alike. With Lamborghini cabins besmirched by scattered Audi/VW switchgear these days and Ferrari interiors on the upswing but hardly extraordinary, the Spyker C8's interior stands apart in the exotic sports car segment.
Mellifluous and responsive Audi V8 notwithstanding, the Spyker C8 isn't a car that tempts you to race other exotics. It's fast, but not that fast. The handling is another matter, though -- with precise manual steering and a chassis tuned with input from Lotus, the C8 has plenty of moxie. Unfortunately, the price of that handling comes in the form of a spine-bruising ride. The C8 does have shock absorbers, but you may have your doubts after a spell in the driver seat. To Spyker's credit, though, the C8's ultra-rigid aluminum structure evinces zero chassis quiver, and driving enthusiasts will appreciate the sense of intimate connection with moving parts and the road below.