Aggressive styling, powerful V10 engine, precise handling, exquisite build quality, sumptuous interior, superior fit and finish.
Wonky R tronic automatic, cramped interior, minimal cargo capacity.
The R8 has been a phenomenal success for Audi, simultaneously raising the company's profile and allowing it to compete in the rarefied air of the supercar segment for the first time. Certainly in its latest V10 guise, the coupe's Porsche-like top speed of 194 mph -- not to mention rapierlike handling -- gives Audi sporting credentials it had not previously enjoyed.
But in the end, it won't be the 10 pistons, 525 horsepower or even the scant 4 seconds that it takes to accelerate to 60 mph that will sell the new convertible version of Audi's supercar. Mere numbers, technical specification or performance data, no matter how impressive, fail to capture what is required for the Spyder to reach the pinnacle of exotic car lust.
That missing piece is style, an attribute the coupe version of the R8 possesses to the point of waste. Park an R8 in any exotic sports car parking lot and the Audi will attract every bit as much adulation as a Lamborghini Gallardo or Ferrari 458 Italia. So, like the younger brother who has to follow in the footsteps of his team-captaining older sibling, the R8 Spyder has some mighty big shoes to fill.
Unlike the coupe, which was first introduced in its V8 guise, the Spyder is currently only available with Audi's 5.2-liter V10 (Audi says production at its Neckarsulm plant is limited, so why not build the most profitable model?). That means a spec sheet boasting 525 hp and 391 pound-feet of torque.
The other specification in the power department that bears noticing is the 6,500-rpm peak for all that torque. That's unusually high, especially for such a large engine with such an undersquare design (the 3.3-inch bore is much smaller than the longish 3.7-inch stroke). Yet the Spyder, like the coupe, thrives on revs, the party not shutting down until the rev limiters kick in at 8,700 rpm (when the pistons are traveling at a very F1-like 26.9 meters per second).
Hammer the throttle at 3,500 rpm and the Spyder responds with alacrity, if not quite outright enthusiasm. Downshift a gear or two so the revs are higher than 5,000 rpm and the R8 thunders forward as if all the hounds of hell have been simultaneously unleashed. The convertible warps ahead and the buzzing fury of those 10 pistons directly behind your ears is purely Wagnerian.
Audi claims the Spyder accelerates to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in just 4.1 seconds (we found the 77-pound-lighter coupe did it in 3.7 seconds). But even that number doesn't do the Spyder justice. Porsche's 911 Turbo, for instance, scoots to the same speed in an even more impressive 3.2 seconds, with much of that advantage attributed to Porsche's high-tech launch control system.
That Porsche analogy also serves to highlight the R8's major weakness -- namely its optional R tronic automatic transmission. Unlike the 911's PDK and the DSG trannies fitted to some other Audis that use dual clutches and seven speeds, the R tronic is an older design with only one clutch and six forward gears. Using but one clutch causes significant hesitation between gears, especially upshifts.
The harshness is almost acceptable when you're just out to enjoy a drive, but creeping along in traffic with the R tronic in its automatic mode is truly annoying. Audi says that the reason the R8 doesn't enjoy the superior sophistication of a dual-clutch transmission is because it doesn't have a DSG box capable of handling the R8's torque, and developing an all-new transmission for about 2,500 units a year is prohibitively expensive. Let's hope it resolves that issue tout de suite.
In other performance regards, the Spyder is exemplary. Despite the loss of the rigidity-enhancing roof, Audi's aluminum spaceframe chassis proves enormously rigid. Even riding on some seriously firm suspension, the Spyder exhibited not one iota of cowl shake. Said suspension uses Audi's new Magnetic Ride dampers. That means a wide range of suspension damping is available, though in the case of the R8, that range extends from the merely firm to the very stiff.
Even during hard cornering, roll is minimal and grip is tenacious. The steering is extremely precise, thanks in part to the 85/15 rear/front torque split of the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. If traction is diminished out back, the system can send as much as 30 percent to the front wheels. Perhaps a racetrack could reveal some handling deficiency, but serious scofflawing along serpentine Mediterranean coastal roads failed to upset the Spyder.
The R8 Spyder is also available with optional carbon-ceramic brakes and six-piston Brembo calipers all around that would seem to have enough power to stop an Indycar (steel discs with eight-piston calipers in front and four pistons in the rear are standard). Their sensitivity does require some acclimatization, but they are very controllable.
Inside, the Spyder is very similar to the coupe, and the longer-legged might find the accommodations a little tight. The seats themselves, however, are very comfortable, quite adjustable and provide ample side bolstering.
Fortified with magnesium bracing, the soft top is not only stable at speed but incredibly quiet as well. Indeed, at 80 mph, it is barely louder inside the Spyder's cabin than the coupe's, and it is quite easy to carry on a conversation at virtually any speed.
Most of the Spyder's interior equipment is, again, similar to the coupe's. That means 465 watts of Bang & Olufsen goodness mated to 12 speakers. It's not quite up to the sonorific splendor that is the A8's B&O system, but it's more than enough for the R8's relatively small cabin.
Too small, however, is the navigation system's LCD screen, whose diminutive size makes it difficult to see complex turns and junctions. Also on the tiny side is the Spyder's 3.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity up front (about enough space for two medium-size laptop bags). Trips for two are best reserved for tropical climes and it would help if both occupants were bikini-friendly.
Design/Fit and Finish
The Spyder, like all current Audis, truly surpasses the competition when it comes to the fit and finish inside the cabin. The leather seat coverings are of high quality, the instrument gauge design still pleasing and the switchgear easily operated, if a little too numerous. As for the actual build quality, the Spyder has the tightest gap between its stowable roof and the windshield frame of any convertible in recent memory.
As for the Spyder's external beauty, you would have to go back to the launch of the original Lamborghini Countach for a more dramatic and universally positive response to a car. Judging from initial reactions to the Spyder, the nonstop ogling the R8 has received should continue unabated. But though the car is most obviously an R8 (indeed, the Spyder's derriere captures all the adoration for which the coupe version is already famous), there are noticeable differences.
Of course the sloping roof is gone (replaced by a soft top and a tonneau cover), but equally noticeable is that the side blades that so dominate the coupe's side view are absent, replaced instead by great gulping air intakes. Even if they are a little more conventional, they are no less attractive. The tonneau cover, the other significant styling addition, looks equally aggressive, with numerous vents on its twin humps.
Who should consider this vehicle
Obviously, anyone looking at R8 coupe ownership but enamored of al fresco driving will be a fan. But then, too, should anyone considering a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche. The Audi offers most of the performance of the former two, the livability of the latter and panache equal to all three. And it's far less expensive than either Italian alternative.
The 2011 Audi R8 is offered in the following submodels: Coupe, Convertible. Available styles include 5.2 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6AM), 5.2 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6M), and 5.2 quattro 2dr Coupe AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6M). R8 models are available with a 5.2 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 525 hp, depending on engine type. The 2011 R8 comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual, 6-speed manual. The 2011 R8 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2011 Audi R8?
Price comparisons for used 2011 Audi R8 trim styles:
The 2011 Audi R8 4.2 quattro Spyder is priced around $78386 with average odometer reading of 47152 miles.
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How do people like the 2011 Audi R8? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2011 Audi R8 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2011 R8 4.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2011 R8.
Review I took delivery of my first R8 in Jan 2008 and of my second (V10) in July 2010. Both are amazing machines, giving an average driver such as me a sense of control over the car and safety in aggressive driving that I have never experienced in other cars. If you want to beat every car you'll ever meet at a stoplight off the line, this is the not the car for you. Several Porsches, a few V12 Italians, and even one Cadillac and one Corvette can do it, even with the V10. But none do it with this combination of speed, control, safety, looks and noise -- undoubtably the best-executed set of inevitable design tradeoffs automotive engineers have ever pulled off.
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2011 audi r8 5.2 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6AM), 6-speed automated manual, premium unleaded (required) 15 combined MPG 13 city MPG/19 highway MPG
2011 audi r8 5.2 quattro Spyder 2dr Convertible AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6M), 6-speed manual, premium unleaded (required) 14 combined MPG 12 city MPG/19 highway MPG
2011 audi r8 5.2 quattro 2dr Coupe AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6M), 6-speed manual, premium unleaded (required) 14 combined MPG 12 city MPG/19 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2011 Audi R8?
Available Audi R8 2011 Submodel Types: Coupe, Convertible, GT 5.2 FSI quattro
Available Trims: quattro, 4.2 quattro, V10 plus quattro, 4.2 quattro Spyder, 5.2 quattro, V10 quattro Spyder, 5.2 quattro Spyder, GT 5.2 FSI quattro, V10 Plus quattro, V10 quattro
Exterior Colors: Phantom Black Pearl Effect, Daytona Gray Pearl Effect, Ibis White, Ice Silver Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, Brilliant Red, Florett Silver Metallic, Somoa Orange Metallic, Suzuka Gray Metallic, Teak Brown Metallic
Interior Colors: Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black premium leather, Black/Express Red Stitching premium leather, Black Fine Nappa Leather w/Diamond Stitching premium leather, Black alcantara, Black/Silver Stitching premium leather, Luxor Beige premium leather, Nougat Brown premium leather, Tuscan Brown premium leather
Popular Features: AWD/4WD, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Heated seats, Post-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, Upgraded Headlights, Bluetooth, Aux Audio Inputs, Back-up camera, Navigation, Parking sensors, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Leather Seats, USB Inputs, Upgraded Stereo, Keyless Entry/Start, Soft Top, Mobile Internet