Devotees of the gloriously vocal ten-cylinder engine at the heart of the all-new Audi R8 will be able to revel in the roar even more completely by opting for the latest open-air R8 Spyder. Priced from £129,990 OTR, the new addition to the second generation R8 range can convert to sun-seeking mode in just 20 seconds, leaving occupants to enjoy the elements to the increasingly rare tune of a naturally aspirated V10 soundtrack. The basic format may be familiar, but the ground-up rework of the R8 Spyder brings it very much up to date not only by adding more power and a 50 per cent uplift in torsional rigidity, but also sophisticated new features including the fully digital Audi Virtual Cockpit, the Audi smartphone interface and internet-based Audi Connect services.
The key point of differentiation between Coupe and Spyder R8 models is of course the lightweight, fully automated cloth hood, which can be activated at speeds of up to 31mph and is slickly concealed beneath the sculpted integral cover, or reattached to shield occupants from a sharp shower, in just 20 seconds. The rear window, sunk into the bulkhead, can also be retracted and extended at the touch of a button.
The strong backbone of the new R8 Spyder is the newly developed multi-material Audi Space Frame (ASF) which incorporates an intelligent mix of aluminium and carbon fibre that helps to keep dry weight down to just 1,612kg. The inherent strength of the concept is evident in the fact that torsional rigidity has increased by over 50 per cent compared with the previous model, helped by Spyder-specific body reinforcements primarily in the sills, A-pillars and windscreen frame.
3.6 seconds, 197mph
To propel this light yet impressively rigid shell as effectively and efficiently as possible, the latest naturally aspirated V10 works with a fast-acting seven-speed S tronic transmission and a newly designed quattro drive system using an electro-hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch apportioning drive fully variably to either axle according to the situation. The upgraded power plant adds advanced features such as dual injection to optimise response and a freewheeling mode which enables it to ‘decouple’ whenever possible to improve fuel economy. 540PS of power and 540 Nm (398.3 lb-ft) of torque at 6,500 rpm deliver phenomenal road performance, with the 0 to 62mph sprint taking just 3.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 197mph, but the latest R8 Spyder is also capable of returning up to 24.1mpg, corresponding to 277 grams CO2 per kilometre.
The Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system is standard, and offers four modes ranging from overtly dynamic to comfort-oriented. Even greater fine-tuning is available via the optional R8 performance leather steering wheel with its multifunction and satellite controls, one of which provides access to three more driving programs: dry, wet and snow. These match the car’s operating characteristics to the specific conditions of the road being travelled.
Another new highlight in the driver’s field of vision is the large 12.3-inch, fully digital Audi virtual cockpit, which presents all information using rich 3D graphics.
The internet-based services delivered by Audi connect come as standard in the R8 Spyder, as does the intuitively operated MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, the Audi Music Interface and belt microphones which make it even easier to use natural-language voice control and the phone.
The Audi smartphone interface, which made its debut in the Q7 and A4 model lines and has just become a standard feature of the A3, is also adopted by the second generation R8 Spyder. It enables selected content from compatible iOS and Android smartphones to be displayed by the Audi virtual cockpit. The Audi phone box can also be specified to connect mobile phones to the car aerial and charge them inductively, and for audiophiles the optional Bang & Olufsen Sound System now also plays through two loudspeakers mounted in each seat’s headrest, for outstanding sound quality even when driving with the hood down.
Virtually unlimited scope for personalisation
Over and above the extensive standard equipment, customers have almost unlimited scope to tailor both the interior and exterior to their individual preferences with features such as Gloss carbon exterior detailing, LED headlights with laser technology and a wealth of Audi exclusive upholstery and trim upgrades.
Drivers keen to wring every last ounce of reward from their R8 can also opt for the Sport Plus Pack, which adds even more responsive, variable ratio dynamic steering, Audi magnetic ride adaptive damping and an even more aurally impactful sport exhaust identifiable by black exhaust tailpipes which replace the standard chrome examples.