AudiI R8 Spyder [TYPE 4S] (2015-2018)

Models Covered:

2dr Convertible (5.2 V10 – 540PS/610PS])


Audi’s R8 Spyder got sharper, smarter and faster in second generation ‘Type 4S’ form. Turning away from the tide towards turbocharging, it used an aurally magnificent normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 and promised race-bred but road-ready four wheel drive performance able to justify its claimed supercar status. Rivals had to take this car very seriously indeed. Here, we look at the pre-facelift 2018-2018-era ‘Type 4S’ Spyder models.

The History

Create a credible supercar and it’s almost expected that you’ll make it available not only in coupe form but also in open-topped guise. Audi’s R8 delivered on that brief in first generation ‘Type 42’ form but there were a few compromises to be made in choosing the convertible version. That wasn’t the case with this much more sophisticated MK2 ‘Type 4S’ R8 Spyder model.

The problem in creating a cabrio from a coupe lies in the huge reduction in torsional stiffness you’ll create by lopping off the roof that would normally provide much of it. It’s taken a great deal of modern technology to get close to sorting this problem, much of which wasn’t available to Audi when they introduced the first generation ‘Type 42’ version of this R8 Spyder back in 2011. As a result, back then, choosing an open-topped R8 over the fixed-top version wasn’t really something an enthusiast would ever have done. It just didn’t feel as sharp.

But things changed. The Ingolstadt brand based this second generation ‘Type 4S’ R8 model, launched in 2015, on an ‘ASF’ ‘Audi Space Frame’ that for the MK2 version was fundamentally fortified with hi-tech ‘Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer’. That made an awful lot of difference, especially to this Spyder variant, improving the structural rigidity of this model by a massive 50%. According to Ingolstadt, this created the stiffest open-topped car ever made. A proper driver’s machine: a proper supercar.

It certainly has a proper supercar engine. Audi stuck to the fabulously vocal normally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 that was also used by Lamborghini. What that created was the fastest, the most powerful and the most desirable open-topped Audi ever made. A rare rear-driven variant was offered as an alternative to the quattro version between 2017 and 2018. The MK2 R8 Spyder was lightly facelifted in 2018. Here though, we look at the pre-facelift 2015-2018-era versions of this model.

What You Get

In MK2 form, visually, the R8 Spyder remained much as it had been, a distinctive cocktail of low-slung curves and delightful design extravagance, though in this second generation version, the influential shape of the previous model was expressed in a tauter, more technically precise way. As before, one of the cockpit’s key distinguishing features is what the stylists call the ‘monoposto’, a stylised large arc that encircles the driver’s area of the cockpit, starting in the door and ending at the centre tunnel. But if that’s familiar, there’s also plenty in this second generation model that was different too, the changes beginning with the grippy, flat-bottomed R8 performance steering wheel.

The fabric top itself weighs only 44kgs and opens or closes in just 20 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. You’d usually activate the process from inside the car but you can also do so from outside by using the standard ‘Advanced Key’.

What To Look For

Most owners in our survey seemed happy. Make sure the car is in perfect condition. There's no reason why it shouldn't be but any dents, scratches or interior damage will knock values hard. The majority of cars that crop up on the used market will have been equipped to well above standard spec. Typically, there will be around £10,000 worth of extras fitted and demand for the R8 Spyder is such that sellers will be able to reflect this outlay in the asking price.

Otherwise insist on a full service record. You can expect a clutch to last a minimum of 20,000 miles, and you should budget about £3,500 for a new one. Lower rear wishbones could also fail, requiring a new unit and hub - this could cost about £3,000 in parts alone. Magnetic dampers have been known to sometimes fail, too, at a cost of around £800 each.

On The Road

That V10 normally aspirated engine comes mated to 7-speed S tronic auto transmission and delivers 540PS in standard form, good enough to catapult this car to 62mph from rest in just 3.6s en route to 197mph. Power is upped to 610PS if you go for the 'V10 plus' variant. Either way, in an R8, torque usually travels to the tarmac in this MK2 model via a bespoke quattro set-up able to flash 100% of power to either axle instantly on demand and as a result, traction levels are astonishingly high. A rare rear-driven 540PS model was offered between 2017 and 2018 if (rather bravely) you don’t feel the need for 4WD in your R8.

We’d certainly choose our R8 in this open-topped ‘Spyder’ guise over the Coupe model any day of the week. With the roof down, the lack of buffeting is truly impressive, especially if you keep the electrically-retracting rear window raised and click the clip-on fabric wind deflector into place. The fabric top can be raised in just 20 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph and once the hood is up, you’ll get levels of cruising refinement that are almost indistinguishable from those of the Coupe variant.


An R8 Spyder isn’t quite as agile as its Coupe counterpart. This convertible variant also comes with a significant price premium. And, like the Coupe, its normally aspirated engine struggles to deliver acceptable levels of running cost efficiency. But we’ll take that. After all, it’s because of that normally aspirated V10 that this car is as desirable as it is. And it’s because of that unit that you’ll be so tempted to choose this Spyder body style. You’ll want to listen to that gloriously throbbing soundtrack over and over again. In years to come, we’ll look back on this powerplant as one of the last, great engines of its era. And look back on this R8 as one of the great open-topped Audis of all time. There’s nothing quite like it.