ROAD TEST: The Audi R8 Spyder...your everyday supercar
IT'S one of the cruel ironies of the automotive world. By the time the lucky few can afford a wind-in-the-hair supercar, many don't have enough hair for the wind to travel through.
Not that the impracticalities of convertibles in sun-drenched Australia seem to put buyers off. There is a still steady queue of people ready to buy cars like the Audi R8 Spyder: a cool $388,500 before on-road costs are added. The example tested was $415,500 drive-away.
The R8 is the drop-top version of Audi's supercar, which shares the platform of Lamborghini's Huracan. The Italian brand was bought by the Volkswagen Group in 1998 and placed in the care of its Audi division.
With a marginally roomier cabin and an incrementally bigger footprint than the Huracan, the R8 is designed to be a supercar you could drive daily, while the Lamborghini remains a track weapon with razor-sharp reflexes. Perhaps the biggest achievement, however, is that - budget permitting - anyone can drive an R8.
Other supercars can be a handful "on the limit" but the R8 is a cinch to drive, once you get used to the fact that no one else can see it in the traffic because it's so low to the road.
At first it feels as smooth as a Volkswagen Golf, albeit with a rumbling V10 nestled just behind your ears.
The steering, the brakes, the acceleration when moving from rest at car park speeds is ingeniously underwhelming. The R8 should still be approached with caution, though.
Use more of your right foot on the right roads and you'll find your brain not quite being able to keep up with the scenery blurring past.
The 5.2-litre V10 matched to a seven-speed auto and all-wheel-drive makes relatively light work of the 1720kg body - it's almost as heavy as a Holden Commodore, despite its carbon-fibre frame and aluminium panels.
Audi claims the R8 does the 0-100km/h dash in 3.6 seconds. We could "only" put together a pair of 3.7s - still mind-bogglingly quick.
How fast does it feel? Imagine slamming on the brakes at 100km/h in an average car, reverse the force of energy, and you pretty much have an idea of what it feels like to reach the speed limit in one of these.
Fortunately, it has brake discs the size of pizza trays to wash off the acceleration.
The other revelation is that Audi has finally caught up to Porsche when it comes to high-end audio. The thumping speakers feel as if they could suck in the exterior door panels.
For many, the sound of the V10 is all you need and the engine note can be tweaked from "quiet" to "raucous".
The drive modes are selected via a button on the console - and the options appear in the single wide-view digital instrument cluster directly in front of the driver.
The screen itself has different modes, prioritising speed, navigation or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto controls. It's a tech geek's dream.
We only touched the surface of what was possible in an R8 during our 24-hour test drive.
Thankfully we were blessed with perfect weather: clear blue skies, moderate temperatures and a low-UV sky to enjoy top-down driving without getting sunburnt.
If Audi could somehow engineer days like this, more people would save their pennies to buy a car like this.