When it was founded in 2000, the Dutch firm Spyker borrowed its name from an early 20th century airplane engine manufacturer and quickly translated that history into the design language of its first supercar, the C8. The wheels, steering column, and switchgear all recall 1920s airplanes and help Spyker distinguish itself in a field of ultra-modern exotics. The C8 was introduced along with the founding of the new company and has seen minor refreshes ever since.
The 2009 Spyker C8 is an exotic sports car available in three versions: C8 Laviolette, C8 Spyder and longer-wheelbase C8 Aileron. Standard features for the C8 Laviolette include 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, keyless entry/ignition, electrically operated single-hinge tilting doors, full leather upholstery, air-conditioning and a CD sound system. The C8 Spyder shares the C8 Laviolette's equipment roster while adding a power-assisted soft top in place of the Laviolette's fixed roof. The C8 Aileron adds a unique dashboard design with a multifunction LCD display, a navigation system and a six-speaker Kharma sound system with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. A Spyder version of the Aileron is scheduled to appear later in the model year.
As you'd expect of a hand-built exotic car, the Spyker C8 offers a mind-boggling array of options, including riveted body panels, 19-inch alloys ("Aeroblade" for Laviolette/Spyder, "Rotorblade" for Aileron), stereo upgrades, heated seats, quilted leather upholstery, an aluminum dashboard, a Louis Vuitton custom luggage set, a Louis Vuitton tool kit, Chronoswiss dials, Alcantara interior trim and bespoke exterior and interior color schemes.
In its current incarnation, most versions of the C8 are powered by an Audi-made, 4.2-liter V8 engine that generates 400 hp and 354 foot-pounds of torque. The engine is quick enough to reach 60 mph from a standing start in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph. A GT-class version of the car, known as the C8 Spyder GT2R, uses a 3.8-liter engine that generates a lower 310 foot-pounds of torque but ups its raw horsepower to 450, resulting in a quicker 3.8-second dash to 60 mph with the same top speed.
SafetyTo comply with American regulations, the C8 Laviolette and Spyder have been fitted with a steering-wheel airbag in place of the Euro-spec propeller-shaped four-spoke wheel. The C8 Aileron adds a passenger airbag. Antilock brakes are standard, but neither stability nor traction control is available.
Driving ImpressionsMellifluous and responsive Audi V8 notwithstanding, the Spyker C8 isn't a car that tempts you to race other exotics. It's fast, but not that fast. The handling is another matter, though -- with precise manual steering and a chassis tuned with input from Lotus, the C8 has plenty of moxie. Unfortunately, the price of that handling comes in the form of a spine-bruising ride. The C8 does have shock absorbers, but you may have your doubts after a spell in the driver seat. To Spyker's credit, though, the C8's ultra-rigid aluminum structure evinces zero chassis quiver, and driving enthusiasts will appreciate the sense of intimate connection with moving parts and the road below.