AN old flame turned up at my house recently, allowing me to rekindle a love affair that began in 2007.

The object of my desire has barely changed in appearance since more than a decade ago, but racier it certainly is, more outrageous as a performer and topless this time.

The Audi R8 remains one of the most desirable cars a shed load of money can buy, and it seems that with virtually every passing year it becomes that bit more desirable.

The car sitting on the driveway is the Spyder – or convertible – version. I have driven it before, but this latest one has increased power that takes it past the 200mph mark for the first time.

It will also hurtle to 62mph in a mere 3.2 seconds, compared with the previous version’s 3.8 seconds.

These figures are largely made possible by the introduction of the 5.2-litre V10 Plus engine that produces 610PS, whereas the previous V10 pumped out 540PS.

The V10 Plus Spyder, with its option to bring the canvas roof down in 20 seconds at the pull of a switch, represents the pinnacle of the R8’s development.

Spot one in your rear view mirror and it will be the piercing all-LED headlights that catch your attention first. The front grille has been subtly tweaked and now wears chromed horizontal details, and the side blades are also a little bigger.

Massive changes they are not, and with good reason; this is still a fantastic looking car, both in coupé and spyder forms.

Transmission is through a S tronic seven-speed gearbox that provides dual-clutch wizardry and rapid and seamless shifts.

Piloting the V10 Plus Spyder through city centre traffic is exactly the kind of challenge that everyday supercars have to take in their stride, and the V10 Plus Spyder copes perfectly well. Leave the transmission in automatic mode and you can pedal the R8 along with little effort. Sitting snugly in the R8's cockpit you become aware of the head-turning from pedestrians and other drivers

It takes only a moment to access the more dynamic side of the R8’s personality. Make the switch to Sport mode and the revs flare instantly as the throttle response is sharpened and the gearbox switches into a more aggressive programme. The thing you’ll notice first, however, is the howling and blipping from the exhaust as it opens out completely to give the engine its full voice.

In this mode, the V10 Plus delivers such a fantastic range of noises it encourages you to change down very early and hold on to gears for longer just to hear it sing. Squeeze on the throttle and there’s a hardening of the exhaust note. Pin the pedal to the floor and the response is positively awesome.

On open roads, the R8 – in whatever form – comes into its own. Crucially, the Quattro drivetrain provides reassurance rather than nannying interference. The steering is sharp and responsive but not nervous, allowing you to revel in the grip.

That the R8 is so responsive and accessible when you press on yet comfortable and unobtrusive when you’re just burbling through town is one of the many reasons why, if you have a big enough wallet, you’d buy one.

But this is far from the end of the R8 story. A new generation will take to the road in 2019 featuring a raft of changes, but the retention of the much-loved naturally aspirated V10 petrol engine.

Highlights include more power, torque and performance, and suspension and steering revisions.

The power of the V10 engine is being uprated from 540PS to 570PS in the standard R8 Coupé and Spyder V10 quattro. The top V10 Plus versions in each body style will in future carry the name V10 Performance, aligning them with the most powerful models elsewhere in the Audi Sport range, and benefit from a power upgrade to 620PS.


Audi R8 Spyder V10 plus 5.2 FSI quattro 610PS S tronic

Price: from £147,135

Engine: 5.2-litre V10 petrol producing 610PS

Transmission: Seven-speed S tronic driving all wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 3.3 seconds; top speed 204mph

Economy: 22.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 292g/km


Performance: *****

Economy: **

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: **

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***

OVERALL: *****