2012 Audi R8 GT Spyder review
* Lighter, more focused R8 Spyder driven * 0-60mph 3.8 seconds; max speed 197mph * Just 43 coming to UK; price 158,145...
The Audi R8 GT Spyder is the answer to the prayers of the few people who thought the regular V10 R8 Spyder wasn't quick enough.
Like the Audi R8 GT Coupe that we drove last year, the GT Spyder follows the same principles of more power and less weight, along with a healthy dose of revisions to the suspension.
Audi's engineers have been over the R8 with a fine-tooth comb to strip it of weight, with the result that the GT is 85kg lighter than the regular V10 Spyder. At the same time, they've uprated the V10 engine to produce 552bhp (30bhp+ more than the standard V10), and the combined effect is 0.3 seconds cut from the 0-60mph time, reducing it to 3.8 seconds.
The other result of all this cutting is one major addition a premium of 40,000 on the standard car's price. The GT Spyder will cost 158,145.
What's the 2012 R8 GT Spyder like to drive?
Audi chose to launch the car on the Stowe Circuit at Silverstone, and it soon became obvious why. Never mind how fast the R8 Spyder GT goes in a straight line impressive though that is what's really remarkable is how it copes with the twisty bits in-between.
Thanks to the lowered and recalibrated suspension, the GT is much sharper to change direction than the standard R8 Spyder, while the standard four-wheel-drive system (which is strongly biased to rear-wheel drive) keeps everything under control. Throw in great grip, tremendous balance and super-strong brakes, and the result is a car that inspires huge confidence, and puts a huge smile on your face.
Audi R8 GT Spyder: four-wheel-drive system with heavy rear bias
Keen drivers will revel in the car's abilities, and the way it responds so sharply to every command whether from the throttle, brakes or steering.
Admittedly, things are that little bit sharper with the roof up, and the coupe version of the R8 GT is sharper still, but there's something about being able to drop the roof in the Spyder GT that makes driving it all the more intoxicating and involving.
Firstly, of course, you have the chance to let the wind whistle through your hair at a hopelessly exhilarating rate; but secondly and perhaps more importantly you can hear the V10 doing its stuff all the more clearly.
Audi R8 GT Spyder: sound of the V10 engine is unforgettable
Accelerating flat-out towards a corner with that glorious engine bellowing behind you, then jumping on the brakes while you go down through the gears, with the engine auto-blipping perfectly in response to each tug on the wheel-mounted paddles, is an experience like no other.
What's the 2012 R8 GT Spyder like inside?
Audi might have been hacking away at the car to reduce its weight, but there's no evidence of that from the driver's seat. On the contrary, apart from its Alcantara sports seats, the GT is pretty much identical to the regular R8, with a standard specification that includes luxuries such as climate control and sat-nav.
Audi R8 GT Spyder: interior is similar to the standard R8 Spyder's
Should I buy one?
If you want one, you'll need to get to your local Audi dealer sharpish. From the worldwide production run of 333 GT Spyders, just 43 are coming to the UK, and Audi says that there is already no more than 'a handful' without buyers.
Mind you, if you want a new Audi R8 GT, buying a Spyder is the only way to get one. The UK's entire allocation of coupes sold out long ago.
If you look at it logically, the GT changes are less relevant on the Spyder if you wanted the purest driving experience in an R8, you'll be beating down the door of anyone lucky enough to have a GT coupe and it's an awful lot of money to pay on top of the impressive standard car.
Audi R8 GT Spyder: 40,000+ more than the standard Spyder
On the other hand, this is a car that's all about emotion and sensation, and once you've spent some time at the wheel, you will doubtless come away prepared to spend that extra money. This is a thoroughly focused and exhilarating car.
What Car? says