By Michael Bettencourt
Audi’s priciest and most exclusive model for 2010 is the R8 Spyder, the convertible version of the R8 that comes with only one engine: the pounding 5.2-litre V10 borrowed from sister company Lamborghini, even if it does receive a minor detuning.
The 5.2-litre V10 engine is the same one that bullies around the Lamborghini Gallardo, although the mill is much quieter and more refined behind the Audi’s two seats, with power down slightly but to a still formidable 525 hp. That’s enough kick to launch the R8 Spyder to from rest to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, according to Audi, with a top speed of 313 km/h, if you can let you find a track that will let you do that in a convertible.
This blistering performance is helped along by a light-weight aluminum space frame and your choice of six-speed transmission: a traditional six-speed manual with a Ferrari-esque aluminum stick shift that clink-clinks into each gear, or a single-clutch R-tronic gearbox that provides an automatic mode for downtown driving. It’s not as smooth as the most modern dual-clutch boxes, or a regular grocery getter’s automatic for that matter, but it’s one of the few weak points of a car that managed to charm the pants off enough Canadian auto journalists to earn the first R8 coupe the Canadian Car of the Year title a couple years back.
The R8 Spyder loses the distinctive and contrasting side blade of the R8 coupe, but the oohs and aahs from the crowd at its Toronto unveiling at CIAS made it clear that this car will still be able to challenge its Lambo counterpart for A-list celeb-creating ability. Its fabric roof takes a brief 19 seconds to open or close, and if that stoplight turns green in mid-top-folding process, the top will still retract at speeds of up to 50 km/h.
The interior has been upgraded with available microphones embedded into the two seatbelts, so that all occupants can speak and be heard on the Bluetooth enabled phone, even with the top down at highway speeds, Audi promises.