Audi R8 GT Spyder

The R8 GT Spyder is the most expensive Audi ever, and sheds weight to increase performance

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Our score is not a reflection of this car’s ability, more its ability over the normal V10 Spyder. Make no mistake, the R8 GT Spyder a great car to drive, but the dynamic ‘upgrades’ aren’t worth £40k. What this premium actually delivers is what matters more to rich people: exclusivity. Little wonder, then, that most of the 43 cars allocated to the UK have already been sold.

The £158,145 R8 GT Spyder is Audi’s most expensive road car yet. And although it costs over £40,000 more than the standard V10 Spyder, you get less – less weight, that is.

Audi’s engineers have removed 85kg to bring the car down to a still-sizeable 1,640kg by, among other things, using carbon fibre for the front and rear splitter and the spoiler, which is now fixed. But the biggest single weight saving is achieved by the bucket seats, which are 35kg lighter than the standard ones.

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Carbon ceramic brakes also help reduce bulk and provide fade-free stopping power. Other mechanical changes include a traditional spring suspension set-up that sits 10mm lower than the standard V10’s variable Magnetic Ride system. It also gets the R tronic single-clutch automatic gearbox, which feels a little old-fashioned next to the latest dual-clutch systems.

Finally, there’s a minor engine upgrade, with power from the 5.2- litre V10 up by 35bhp to 553bhp. Combined with the weight savings, this provides a 3mph increase in top speed to 197mph and cuts the 0-62mph sprint time by three tenths to 3.8 seconds.

But while these performance gains may mean the difference between winning or losing a game of Top Trumps, in reality they’re hard to discern. And that brings us to the crux of the matter.

We drove the GT Spyder on Silverstone’s Stowe circuit, where it performed brilliantly. But had someone swapped it for a normal V10 Spyder during our toilet break, we’d have been none the wiser – other than the lack of GT badging and carbon trim, uncomfortable seats... and a £40,000 lower insurance bill had we crashed.

For rich track-day fans, the 1,525kg R8 GT Coupe may make some sense. But the Spyder doesn’t. What’s the point of adding 100kg to the R8 by turning it into a convertible only to charge loads of money to remove 85kg again?

So while it may be great to drive, the R8 GT Spyder is little more than a marketing exercise for those who want to own the most expensive Audi ever.

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