Sometimes, less really is more. Like when an automaker decides to update a supercar that most of us already consider to be nearly perfect. Case in point: the Audi R8 Spyder. This gorgeous car was out of production for a year stateside, but is now back for 2020.
Now, nobody considers the R8 to be the ultimate supercar. There are plenty of million dollar (or more) models to fight for that title. However, the R8 Spyder is regarded by many automotive journalists as the perfect example of an “everyday” supercar. The good news is that the automaker hasn’t really messed with the R8’s winning formula. It still packs a naturally aspirated V10, comes standard with Quattro all-wheel drive, and starts at under $200,000.
What Audi has done is give the exterior a slight redesign. They’ve also tuned its V10 engine to produce more power. These two tweaks, while subtle, help bolster the R8 Spyder’s supercar credentials. It makes for a compelling option for those in the market for a supercar, but without the seven-figure budget.
What’s New for 2020: A Design That (Almost) Screams “Supercar”
Unless you’re an Audi aficionado, it’ll be hard to spot the differences between the 2018 R8 Spyder and the 2020 model. We promise they’re there, though. Up front, the honeycomb grille and side air intakes have been redesigned. They are now slightly larger and more angular in appearance. The front lip spoiler, which had a carbon fiber finish, is now done up in high gloss black or titanium — depending on the trim. Luckily, the carbon fiber is still an option. Around back, the 2020 R8 Spyder sports a completely redesigned rear end featuring a new-look bumper, a beefy dual exhaust, and chunkier rear diffuser.
While subtle, the revised exterior makes the 2020 R8 Spyder look a bit more aggressive than its predecessor. It might help the 2020 model stand out a bit more in a crowded parking lot full of supercars.
What’s New for 2020: A More Powerful V10
The 2020 Audi R8 Spyder comes in two trims. However, they both pack the naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10 engine. The “entry-level” trim, the aptly named “V10,” puts out 562 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. That’s 30 hp and 6 lb-ft of torque more than the 2018 model. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. According to Audi, the entry-level Spyder can sprint from 0-to-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It also reaches a top speed of 200 mph.
The engine in the top-tier R8 Spyder, which has been rechristened the V10 Performance, has been left untouched. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as 602 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque is more power than you’ll probably ever need. The V10 Performance narrowly outpaces the “base mode” in the run from 0-to-60 mph (3.3 seconds) and in straight-line speed (204 mph).
Like with the exterior refresh, the changes under the hood aren’t extreme. However, they do help the 2020 R8 Spyder strengthen its supercar bonafides. After all, no self-respecting supercar in today’s age of power and speed has a top speed under 200 mph.
The Interior: What More Does a Supercar Need Besides Leather?
The R8 Spyder’s cabin is well-appointed and apparently roomy enough to accommodate actual adults comfortably. Heated Nappa leather sport seats are standard on the V10 trim, while the V10 Performance receives 18-way power adjustable “diamond-stitched” leather seats with pneumatic side and leg bolsters — a $3,700 optional extra that’s rolled into the MSRP. The 2020 R8 Spyder doesn’t offer much in the way of storage space, with the front trunk capable of holding just eight-cubic feet of cargo. That said, there are two cup holders.
Tech and Safety: No Touchscreen Needed
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The Audi R8 Spyder does NOT have a touchscreen infotainment center. That said, it does come standard with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These apps live inside Audi’s virtual cockpit, a digital 12.3-inch display screen that also serves as the gauge cluster. The R8 Spyder also features a WiFi hotspot, Sirius XM, and a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system (a 13-speaker unit is optional on the V10 Performance).
In terms of safety tech, the R8 Spyder comes standard with a reverse camera, cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic LED headlights. Audi doesn’t offer any additional safety tech or driver’s aids. Then again, this is a supercar, not a family sedan.
Trim Levels and Pricing: Paying a Premium for Speed
The 2020 Audi R8 Spyder asks a tough question. How much is speed and performance worth? The V10 performance trim stickers at $182,100. For that price, you do get plenty of car. However, the V10 Performance does offer a higher top speed, a more powerful engine, and comes standard with carbon ceramic brakes. The V10 Performance is also fitted with the optional carbon exterior package, which adds carbon fiber trim to the engine compartment, mirrors, side skirts, rear lip spoilers, and inlays. It also bumps the price up to at least $208,100.
Although the V10 trim packs less of a punch and doesn’t come standard with any optional extras, it does offer magnetic dampers that automatically adjust to the condition of the road. You can adjust the suspension by selecting one of three settings: dynamic, comfort, or auto. The V10 Performance offers a fixed suspension setup, which means its ride will be a little less comfortable.
The Last Word: A Civilized Supercar
The 2020 Audi R8 Spyder occupies a weird niche in the automotive world. It has the engine and performance credentials of a supercar, yet its price tag and styling suggest that it’s more of a souped-up grand tourer. At the end of the day, though, we’re comfortable calling any car that tops 200 mph and does 0-to-60 in under 3.5 seconds a supercar.
No, the Audi R8 Spyder doesn’t offer the same ability to carve up canyons as the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. It will never turn as many heads as its corporate cousin, the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. The McLaren 570S Spider, perhaps the supercar that shares the most in common with the R8, offers just a bit more performance and a slightly sleeker design.
What makes the 2020 Audi R8 Spyder stand out among its peers is its unique combination of power and practicality. Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche, Ferrari — you name the company — there’s no way you’ll find them selling a supercar with a naturally aspirated V10, standard all-wheel drive, and a starting price under $200,000. The R8 Spyder offers the practicality and comfort of a GT car and, when called upon, is just as capable in a straight line and through the bends as anything else on the market.