Enjoy the highway while you can – the smart roads are coming

I’ll tell you what’s sad about driving in the 21st century – the opportunities to actually enjoy a high performance car like the R8 Spyder are few and far between.

It’s Monday and I’ve just hacked 95 miles back from the Peak District in the Audi. I know what the engine can do, I’ve experienced the quattro handling before.

Yet I might as well have been in a Ford Focus. Seriously, there was NOWHERE I could give that V10 a prod. I’m starting to realise that I was lucky to have learnt to drive in the 1980s.

Which then makes me wonder, what is the point of fabulous cars like this? Where can we enjoy a McLaren, a Lamborghini, or even a lowly Mini Cooper S for that matter?

Soon, all our highways will be ‘smart’ roads and the fun will be gone for good. Enjoy it while you can, people…

 

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‘Hurrah for the Audi R8 Spider’ cried Mr Toad

It’s that time of year when a gentleman’s thoughts turn to a pretty little convertible. You know the kind of thing – leather seats, lashings of power and a jolly loud exhaust.

Well, the R8 Spyder has all of those and more. Hurrah! I hear you say. And indeed you would be right. Except this particular Audi is a thoroughly modern monster that won’t take kindly to any thoughts by you of lifting the engine cover.

This a car absolutely loaded with technology. From the ten-cylinder engine squeezed in behind the driver’s head, to the virtual dashboard that feeds info on everything.

And I mean everything. There’s no centre infotainment screen you see, so getting the steering wheel adjustment just right is crucial, especially if you need to follow the sat nav.

Fortunately, there are no silly indicator switches on the steering wheel, like the Lamborghini – and the exhaust is only mad loud when you slip into sport mode.

I loved the R8 last time I drove it – I’m looking forward to another romance this week…

Space, the final frontier – in an Audi R8

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It’s quite easy to shut your eyes (not when you’re driving, of course) inside the R8 and believe you are steering an Audi TT. Petrolheads will note there are many similarities between the two.

The R8’s steering wheel and dashboard are swathed in buttons and dials you will find in many a lesser Audi. No bad thing but just remember this is a £110k supercar. Wouldn’t you expect more?

I’ve already revealed the ‘issues’ with the infotainment system but the lack of cubbyholes and storage is starting to bug the hell out of me. My iPhone 5s disappears sideways when I slot it in the centre cup holder. There’s nowhere to store it safely.

Practicality is the R8’s Achilles heel and comparing in with the popular TT only highlights the issue more. There’s no back seats and the luggage space is somewhat lacking.

The search for the perfect convertible goes on…

The Audi R8 Spyder is a big car that seems to have very little space on the inside

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So, what do you make of the R8 in profile? Apart from being very ‘Dubai’ in its supercar looks, there’s rather a lot of rear end going on and not enough bonnet for my liking.

Of course, being rear-engined you would expect that but compared to a Porsche 911 (or even a Boxster) the Spyder does have a bottom of epic proportions.

And what’s even stranger still is the fact the R8 has a tiny, tiny amount of luggage space under that steeply raked bonnet. You can just squeeze one weekend bag in, a couple of jackets and not much else.

Inside, there are a two sandwich-sized cubby boxes between the seats in the rear bulkhead, a glovebox – and that’s it! Space is as a premium, yet a 911 seems to cram two rear seats and much larger luggage area into a vehicle of lesser dimensions.

The Audi then, is a big car with limited room for your belongings. Weird.