Don't be misled b the soft top - the R8 Spyder is a heavy hitter.
Despite lashings of carbon fibre and a 30kg cloth roof, the porky Spyder's reinforced body adds 216kg to the kerb weight of the R8.
Audi has skipped the V8 altogether in cabrio form and compensated for the weight gain with the 386 kW, 5.2-litre V10 engine. It hits 100km/h in a hardly tardy 4.1 secs, and the roof opens and shuts in 19secs.
The Spyder is more conservative than the coupe, losing the trademark 'side blades', which are replaced by swoopy gills, and the engine, usually seen under the clear glass of the rear cover, is hidden under the folding top.
The car launches in Europe later this year at around AUS$265,600.
Check out the mammoth press release below for all the angles.
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Exceptional performance and breathtaking dynamism coupled with the intense sensations of open-top driving: Audi presents the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro. Its lightweight cloth top opens and closes fully automatically; several body parts are made of a carbon fiber composite material.
The V10 engine produces 386 kW (525 hp) and launches the open-top two-seater to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 313 km/h (194.49 mph). Featuring technologies such as the Audi Space Frame (ASF), quattro permanent all-wheel drive, full-LED headlights and with an innovative seatbelt microphone available as an option, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro is the new top-of-the-range Audi.
The Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro makes a powerful statement. The sculptured lines of the emotion-packed, high-performance sports car are a fascinating and unique interpretation of its dynamism. Unlike the Coupé, the Spyder does not have sideblades behind the doors. The side panels and the large cover over the storage compartment for the cloth top are made of a carbon fiber composite. Two arched cowls, which extend to the spoiler lip and include large, integrated air vents, give the rear of the open-top two-seater a powerful profile.
Like every open-top Audi, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro has a cloth top - an uncompromising solution for a high-performance sports car. The soft top's approximate weight is a mere 30 kilograms (66.14 lb); it thus keeps the vehicle's total weight and center of gravity low. The top takes up little space when open and is a harmonious design element when closed. It tapers off to two slim fins extending to the trailing edge of the car, emphasizing the elongated silhouette.
The electrohydraulic soft top opens and closes in 19 seconds, even while driving at speeds up to 50 km/h (31.07 mph). When opened, it folds like a Z into its storage compartment over the V10 engine. The compartment cover opens and closes automatically. The heated glass window, which is separate from the cloth top, is lowered into the bulkhead. It can be independently raised and lowered at the press of a switch, with the top up or down. An additional net-like wind deflector comes standard and can be latched into the bulkhead behind the seats in two easy steps.
The top, which comprises an outer skin of a leakproof textile fabric and the headliner, is fully compatible with high-speed driving. When driving at moderate speeds with the top up, interior noise levels in the R8 Spyder are barely higher than in the Coupé. The bulkhead includes integrated rollover protection in the form of two strong, spring-tensioned plates. Head/thorax side bags in the backrests protect the passengers in the event of a side impact. Full-size airbags stand at the ready in the event of a head-on collision. In a rear-end collision, the integral head restraint system reduces the risk of whiplash injuries.
In the version with manual transmission, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro weighs only 1,720 kilograms thanks primarily to its aluminum Audi Space Frame (ASF) body. Despite reinforcements in the area of the sills, the center tunnel, the rear wall, the floor pan and the A- and B-pillars, the body weighs only 216 kilograms (476.2 lb) - just 6 kilograms (13.23 lb) more than that of the R8 Coupé. The high stiffness of the ASF body, which includes an integrated engine frame of ultra-lightweight magnesium, provides the foundation for the car's dynamic handling and superior safety.
Close attention to detail: the design
Numerous details demonstrate that the Audi designers put their hearts into the design of the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro. The air inlets in the nose, which direct air across the three radiators, and the lip of the front skirt are painted high-gloss black. The struts in the broad, low, single-frame grille are finely coated with chrome. The standard full-LED headlights are technical works of art. Their reflectors resemble open mussel shells; the daytime running lights appear to be a homogeneous strip, but actually comprise 24 individual LEDs that form a curve at the lower edge of the headlight.
The full-LED headlights from Audi are unmatched by its international competitors. Light-emitting diodes are used for the low beams, the high beams, the daytime running lights and the turn signals. With a color temperature of 6,000 Kelvin, the LED light is very similar to daylight, making it easier on the eyes when driving at night. Additional strengths include excellent light distribution, long service life and extremely low energy consumption.
The side sills of the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro are broad and angular. V10 badges on the flanks allude to the power of the engine. A dark surface between the rear lights emphasizes the car's width. The chambers of the lights are colored dark red, with LEDs generating a three-dimensional light pattern. The exhaust system ends in two large, oval tailpipes, and the fully lined underbody ends in an upturned diffuser. The rear spoiler extends automatically at higher speeds.
Audi offers the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro with a choice of three colors for the top. The body is available in eleven paint finishes, with metallic and pearl effect finishes standard. The windshield frame is coated with anodized aluminum.
Sporty luxury: the interior
The open-top two-seater from Audi features a generously spacious interior. The three-spoke leather multifunction sport steering wheel is flattened at the bottom as in a race car, and the low-mounted, electrically adjustable seats guide and support the body perfectly.
Quality of fit and finish is extraordinary and the controls are clear and logical. The standard driver information system includes a lap timer for recording lap times. The instruments and the gear lever knob feature red rings. The pedals, the footrests and the shift paddles of the optional R tronic are in aluminum look. Highlighting the list of standard equipment are a generous full-leather package featuring Fine Nappa leather, an excellent sound system from Bang & Olufsen, a deluxe automatic air conditioning system and heated seats. Six different interior colors are available.
Many additional fine features documents the top status of the Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro. The leather for the seats are colored with pigments that reflect the infrared component of sunlight, which keeps the seats up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler.
Door sill strips coated with aluminum and adorned with black satin finish applications impart an air of luxurious sportiness. Three storage compartments are integrated into the rear bulkhead, one of which contains the optional CD changer or Audi music interface, if desired. There is a front compartment for 100 liters (3.53 cu ft) of luggage.
The latest version of the navigation system plus with MMI operating logic is also standard in the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro. It features higher resolution and particularly fast route calculation. The system's most visible new feature is the high-resolution, 6.5-inch display. The topographic view can be scrolled in any direction. The system can be combined optionally with a rearview camera that serves as a parking aid.
Audi offers custom extras, such as exclusive leather packages and special inlays. A worldwide first is the optional seatbelt microphone for the hands-free unit, which makes it possible to talk on the phone even with the top down on the highway. Three small, flat microphones are integrated into both seatbelts. At least one of them is ideally positioned relative to the speaker when the belt is on. There is a fourth microphone in the windshield frame.
Uncompromising power: the engine
The Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro, which was developed in cooperation with quattro GmbH, dazzles with uncompromising performance. The V10 engine with the aluminum crankcase, much of which is hand-built, follows in the grand motorsports tradition at Audi. The normally aspirated engine produces 530 Nm (390.91 lb-ft) of torque at 6,500 rpm. Peak output of 386 kW (525 hp) is reached at 8,000 rpm, and the rev limit is not reached until 8,700 rpm. Specific power output is 100.9 hp per liter of displacement; each hp only needs to move 3.3 kilograms (7.28 lb) of weight.
Performance reflects this awesome potential: 0 - 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.1 seconds; 0 - 200 km/h (124.27 mph) in 12.7 seconds; top speed is 313 km/h (194.49 mph) with the six-speed manual transmission. As load and revs increase, the engine unfolds the rich, unmistakable Audi ten-cylinder sound - a powerful, throaty roar with musical undertones.
The 5.2-liter engine features FSI direct fuel injection. The high 12.5:1 compression ratio that this enables contributes to the high performance and good fuel efficiency. Equipped with a manual transmission, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro consumes an average of 14.9 liters of fuel per 100 km (15.79 US mpg) - a good figure given its power. With R tronic, this figure improves to 13.9 liters (16.92 US mpg). Dry sump lubrication, another motorsports technology, ensures that the supply of oil is maintained even at the maximum lateral acceleration of 1.2 g.
The Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI is also available with an optional automatic six-speed transmission. The R tronic offers a normal and a sport program as well as a fully automatic and a manual mode. The manual mode allows the driver to make lightning-fast gear changes using the joystick on the center tunnel or with the paddles on the steering wheel. The open-air sports car also comes with "Launch Control" - a program that manages engagement of the clutch perfectly to maximize acceleration at start.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive features a central viscous coupling and distributes power to all four wheels with a heavy rear bias. It works together with the locking differential on the rear axle to provide significantly greater traction, stability, cornering speed and precision. It is the superior technology - in particular for a high-performance sports car.
Dazzling performance: the chassis
The Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro has a 2.65-meter (8.69-ft) wheelbase and a 43:57 axle load distribution. Like in a race car, there are double triangular wishbones made of aluminum at all four wheels. The hydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering conveys highly precise road contact.
The chassis is tuned for good comfort, thanks in part to standard Audi magnetic ride technology. This uses magnetic fields in the shock absorbers to adjust their response to road conditions within milliseconds and adapt to the driver's style. The driver can choose between two base characteristics. A sports suspension with conventional shock absorbers is available as an option.
The R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro rolls on 19-inch wheels of 10-spoke Y design. The front rims are shod with 235/35 tires, with 295/30 tires at the back. 305/30 tires are optionally available. The brakes offer impressive performance: The four discs are internally ventilated and perforated, with eight-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers at the back. Optionally available from Audi are oversized carbon fiber-ceramic discs that are extremely lightweight, robust and long-lived. The ESP stabilization system has a Sport mode and can also be completely deactivated. The brake system includes an assist function that facilitates starting on gradients.
The Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro is built by quattro GmbH at the Neckarsulm plant. The vehicle, including the ASF, is largely hand-built. The open-top two-seater will be launched in Germany in the first quarter of 2010. Its base price will be 156,400 euros.
In the market for a new car? Check out Australia's Best Value Cars.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.
Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!