A few months ago Audi called up and offered the new A5 Sportback to test for Father’s Day weekend, just a few days after the first drive. We happily accepted, considering it’s sized just right for a growing family. A few weeks later, Audi called back, wondering if we’d like to test an R8 V10 Spyder instead. And despite it not really being a Father’s Day type of car — no place for a child seat, or a child — we happily accepted again. Fortunately, I could pawn the boy off on the in-laws, because Mrs. Road Test Editor and I had a wedding to go to. Now I can definitively say the Audi R8 V10 Spyder is the best car to take to a wedding, as long as you only have two people, one of whom is a designated driver.
Technically, there is space for a child.
Right off the bat, wedding clothes fit in the front trunk. I had my suit pressed and was a little worried about getting it halfway across the state without a hook to hang it on. But with a few bags of luggage filling the front, my suit and the wife’s dress, draped softly on top, came out no worse than they went in.
We arrived early — not surprising, the R8 V10 is wicked fast — and skipped the grass parking lot entirely as we were waived into a spot right in front of the outdoor wedding pavilion. House, trailer or tent, an R8 ups the curb appeal. The groomsmen were aware of what I was bringing and probably dropped a line to the ushers.
Everyone had to literally walk around the car to get into the wedding, making for more car-centric conversation, always a good thing. We of the car cult will talk about cars as long as the person across from us does the same. It made for more interesting conversation than would have normally happened. Flowers? Dresses? Shrimp? Please. Horsepower, torque, Quattro. These are important topics.
The R8, even though it doesn’t have an Italian pedigree, is every bit an exotic. People walk by it and literally say “wow,” especially when the Transformer-like top is folding into the rear. Even this 185-mph convertible has some problems, though.
The auto stick shifter is in the improper down-is-downshift format. It should be like a motorcycle, up is down, down is up. That way it goes with your body’s momentum. I also felt like I was sitting too high. I don’t remember that on my first drive of the hardtop. The seating position — combined with the windshield frame — puts the driver right where traffic lights are out of view when stopping, I found myself craning my neck waiting for every green. The pedalbox area is a little small too, something I do remember from driving the hard top. If the left leg had a clutch to play with, the narrowness makes more sense, but in this automatic, I’d like a little more room.
Speed is laughable, or grin-inducing, as they say, and since the back window can be rolled down with the top still up, it’s ear-popping loud. The Ferrari GTB had the same feature. It’s great for keeping the top up in the rain but still being able to listen to the engine wail. Like the hardtop, speed comes on early and it feels like power and torque stay flat well past triple-digit speeds. We were a little sad to lose the 4.2-liter V8 and its metal-gated six-speed manual transmission, but this 540-hp V10 does just fine. The sprint to 60 mph takes 3.5 seconds, says Audi, and we find that plenty believable.
This, the Mustang GT350 and the Alfa Giulia are probably my top choices for cars with electronic power steering right now. Oh, and the Miata, always the Miata. The R8 zips through traffic like a much smaller car. Giant, sticky summer tires send a little road feel through the steering wheel too, which is always nice.
There’s a good range between suspension modes, and I found comfort surprisingly comfortable at speed. Sport mode tightens things up, and race goes even harder. A lot of these cars have a comfort mode that feels artificially soft. On the Merc E-Class, you can’t feel the bumps from the seat of your pants, but you can hear the suspension banging around. This R8 exhibits none of that. I say this with every R8, but in comfort mode, after driving for a few hours, you just feel like you’re driving an Audi sedan. I think that’s a good thing, though some of you might want a little more drama in your interiors.
“What the hell is everyone looking at? Oh, right.” That was the thought we kept coming back to, bombing across the back roads of Portugal in the new Audi R8 V10 Plus, headed …
So, the 2017 Audi R8 V10: easy on the track, fast and comfortable on the street, perfect for a wedding. Taking the family out on a Father’s Day weekend? Not so much. On the other hand, what does a dad really want for Father’s Day? Usually to do whatever he wants, and I couldn’t think of many dads who wouldn’t take an R8 over another necktie, homemade coupon book or golf outing.
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