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New York show: Audi airs new R8 Spyder

Down time: Audi’s R8 Spyder employs the same 5.2-litre V10 and four-wheel drive transmission as its coupe sibling.

Lightweight new-gen Audi R8 drop-top just a whisker slower than coupe counterpart


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24 Mar 2016

THE drop-top version of Audi’s muscle-bound V10 R8 sportscar will sprint from zero to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds – just 0.1 seconds slower than its hardtop sibling.

Revealed overnight at the New York motor show, the R8 Spyder is set to arrive in Australia in the first half of next year, just a few months after the second-generation R8 Coupe.

Again employing an electro-hydraulically operated folding soft top that can close automatically in 20 seconds while driving at up to 50km/h, the new Spyder is said to be 113kg lighter than its predecessor yet 50 per cent more rigid in the body.

Riding on a modified version of the new aluminium and carbon-fibre space frame platform that debuted recently under the R8 coupe, the Spyder also shares the same 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 carried over from the first-generation R8, albeit with tweaks such as idle-stop and a combination of port and direct injection.

The engine generates 397kW – 11kW more power than the previous model – at a screaming 8250rpm, along with 40Nm more torque (540Nm) at a lofty 6500rpm.

Like the R8 Coupe, no V8 will be offered this time, but if you wait a while, you can expect a more powerful R8 Plus V10 with 449kW/560Nm.

In all cases, the mid-mounted engine is coupled to a dual-clutch seven-speed S tronic transmission that drives all four wheels through Audi’s re-engineered quattro all-wheel-drive system that now can deliver up to 100 per cent of the torque to the front or rear wheels in extreme circumstances.

Such is the force through the quattro clutch that Audi has incorporated water cooling.

Fuel efficiency is said to have been improved by 10 per cent, to 11.7 litres per 100km on the Euro combined test scale, thanks to technologies such as “freewheeling mode” – a system that decouples the engine to allow the vehicle to coast.

LED laser headlights are also new to R8 Spyder, enhancing night vision.

The folding roof slides under a tonneau behind the two seats. Two tapering fins at the sides give it the same silhouette as the coupe, while the electric-powered rear glass window slides up and down out of the rear bulkhead. With the roof up, top speed is said to be 318km/h.

Inside, re-designed sports seats are more contoured, while bucket seats are available. The instruments are all shown on a large 12.3-inch high-definition screen with 3D graphics, should the driver want them.

New smartphone technology and LTE internet connection are included, along with a Bang & Olufsen sound system, this time with speakers in the head rests.

Audi technical development board member Stefan Knirsch said the drop-top added a new dimension to the 5.2-litre V10 experience of the R8.

“Compared to the R8 coupe, the engine sound in the open high-performance sportscar now delivers an even more intense experience,” he said.

Audi Australia today confirmed the R8 Spyder for Australia, with deliveries expected in the first half of 2017.

Pricing and Australian specifications will be announced closer to launch, but expect prices to be north of the $354,900 (plus on-roads) ask for the R8 Coupe and perhaps around the same price as the upcoming Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet which starts at $406,400.

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