Audi’s V-10-powered supercar loses its top

Launched in 2007, the first-generation Audi R8 was so successful that the German brand decided to keep it around for no fewer than eight model years. The Spyder, on the other hand, is a bit younger than that, having been unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show for the 2010 model year.

At first only available with the 5.2-liter V-10, the convertible also received the 4.2-liter V-8 for 2011, and a limited-edition GT model for 2012. With the second-generation R8 already in dealerships, Audi introduced the redesigned Spyder version at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Much like its predecessor, the second-generation R8 Spyder is essentially a topless version of the R8 Coupe,using a soft-top instead of metal roof. Specs are obviously identical, meaning there’s no longer a V-8 engine and a manual transmission. Audi has yet to confirm whether the R8 Spyder will also get an e-tron version, but an all-electric drop-top is very likely to arrive by the end of 2016.

Audi’s new angular design works well with the R8 Spyder’s convertible layout and the performance is definitely strong, but does it have what it takes to compete against the bonkers Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet and McLaren’s upcoming 570S Spider? Keep reading to find out.

Update 12/12/2018: We’ve updated this review with pictures taken at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Check them out in the gallery at the bottom of the page!

Exterior

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670343
2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670355
2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670350

Much like any other transformation that turns a coupe into a convertible, the R8 Spyder is identical to the R8 Coupe we saw at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, save for the roof and the engine hood. All told, the new Spyder sports the same evolutionary design featuring Audi’s new corporate language consisting of more angular features. Overall, the new R8 Spyder has a more aggressive stance due to its larger front grille and vertical side intakes, slender taillights, and race-like rear diffuser.

As for the features that make the R8 a supercar with infinite headroom, the metal top was replaced by a lightweight fabric top with an aluminum and magnesium frame

As for the features that make the R8 a supercar with infinite headroom, the metal top was replaced by a lightweight fabric top with an aluminum and magnesium frame, as well as a completely different engine lid. The recipe is similar to the first-gen car, as the large glass piece that shows the engine in the coupe was ditched in favor of a vented hood and a windscreen behind the rear seats.

The lightweight cloth is operated by an electro-hydraulic drive that opens and closes the hood in 20 seconds. The action can be done both ways at speeds of up to 31 mph. The rear window can be retracted and extended depending on how much air you want inside the cabin.

Interior

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Interior
- image 670374

Much like the exterior, the Spyder’s interior mimics the coupe’s in just about every detail. It features a redesigned, flat-bottom steering wheel with three spokes and plenty of controls, revised sports seats with enhanced lateral support, and a 12.3-inch screen that replaces both the old instrument gauges and the MMI display previously fitted in the center stack. There’s also a redesigned dashboard with new A/C vents and a new center console. Trim options include an Alcantara and Nappa leather combo or the optional full Nappa leather for the seats, as well as clear-coated carbon-fiber for the center console, dashboard, and door panels. Naturally, the Spyder benefits from the infinite headroom that comes with all cabriolets.

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 670379
With the 2016 model year having marked the end of the line for the V-8-powered R8, the Spyder will get the V-10 as the only engine option.

With the 2016 model year having marked the end of the line for the V-8-powered R8, the Spyder will get the V-10 as the only engine option. The unit in question is the same 5.2-liter V-10 first launched in the 2016 Lamborghini Huracan, but tweaked to produce 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. That’s a 15-horsepower and an eight-pound-feet bump over the previous engine.

Another big change in the drivetrain department is the availability of only one transmission. Audi decided to drop the six-speed manual and offer the R8 with the S Tronic dual-clutch only. The S Tronic delivers power to all four wheels via Audi’s quattro AWD system and propels the supercar to 62 mph in about 3.6 seconds, a tenth-second slower than the coupe. Top speed sits at 197 mph, four mph off the coupe’s benchmark.

Other novelties that come with the new drivetrain include a revised quattro system that diverts up to 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions and to the front wheels on slippery surfaces. Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg combined for the new V-10, which is a 10 percent improvement over the previous model, thanks to a new stop-start system.

While the R8 Coupe also comes in a Plus version that benefits from 610 horsepower and 413 pound-feet, the Germans have yet to say whether the Spyder will get a similar trim. Unless Audi decides to extend the Plus nameplate to the Spyder, the convertible will only be offered with the standard V-10.

However, the R8 Spyder may get an all-electric version. The 2016 Audi E-tron coupe is motivated by two electric motors powered by a large, T-shaped, 49-kWh battery, which deliver a total of 455 horsepower and a whopping 679 pound-feet of torque. The R8 Spyder e-tron would need 3.9 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start and have an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Prices

The R8 Spyder starts out at £128,185 plus a destination charge of £1,805, for a starting OTR price of £129,990. At current exchange rates, that computes to nearly $172,000. Solid, metallic, matt effect, pearl effect, and crystal paint finishes can be selected at no charge. If you look to Audi exclusive for a cool exterior color, you’ll be looking at just over $3,300 for a standard finish or just over $8,100 for a matt finish. Opting for the side blades to be finished in Ice Silver, Kendo Grey, or Mythos Black comes free of charge, but you’ll be asked to pay just over $2,600 for Gloss Carbon, almost $1,200 for Matt Titanium Grey, or nearly $1,400 extra for an Audi Exclusive color.

Three 19-inch, twin-spoke, alloy wheel designs are available at a price of $1,256 while going for any variation of the 20-inch Y-design wheels will set you back just over $3,100. Opting for LED headlights with Laser Light and High-beam assist will set you back almost $4,200. On the inside, you can go with R8 bucket seats for an extra $4,000. Adding a stitched diamond design to the leather upholstery comes at a premium of about $600.

Four packages are available to choose from, which give you the best equipment options at a reduced price. The driver assistance pack commands $860; the Gloss Carbon Exterior Styling Pack will set you back to the tune of $6,500, the Sound and Comfort Pack commands $5,200, and the Sport Plus Pack calls for just over $4,600. As you can see, obtaining a fully loaded R8 could easily breach the $200,000 mark, but that’s the price you have to pay for power and luxury, right?

If you’re interesting in configuring an R8 to suit your needs, you can check out the online configurator here.

2018 Audi R8 Spyder prices

Audi R8 Spyder V10 quattro S tronic $177,100

Competition

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 658137

The Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet might not have the R8’s supercar looks, but the sports car is significantly quicker thanks to its turbocharged, 3.8-liter, flat-six engine. rated at 540 horsepower in standard trim and 580 horses in S trim. The six-cylinder pushes the 911 from 0 to 60 mph in three and 2.9 seconds, respectively, while top speed sits at 198 mph for the Turbo and 205 mph for the Turbo S. Also, the 911 Turbo offers a different driving experience, due to both its turbocharged mill, rear-engined configuration, and four-wheel steering. Price-wise, the Turbo S Cabriolet is a lot more expensive than the R8, checking in at $171,500 and $200,400.

Find out more about the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet here.

McLaren 570S Spider

2018 McLaren 570S Spider High Resolution Exterior
- image 639343

Note: 2016 McLaren 570S Coupe shown here.

Introduced for the 2016 model year as McLaren’s first sports car aimed at the Porsche 911 Turbo, the 2016 McLaren 570S Coupe has yet to receive an open-top version, but it has been confirmed that the Spider is underway for 2017. Much like its competitors from Porsche and Audi, the 570S Spider will make use of the coupe’s drivetrain, a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 that cranks out 562 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The Spider will likely need 3.3 seconds to hit 62 mph and reach a top speed of around 202 mph, which would make it quicker than the R8 but slower than the 911 Turbo S. The British drop-top should retail from around $200,000, making it the most expensive of the bunch.

Learn more about the upcoming McLaren 570S Spider here.

Conclusion

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 670348

Though it wasn’t the quickest and most powerful supercar in its segment, the first-generation R8 was a popular choice among enthusiasts due to its relatively affordable sticker and availability of both V-8 and V-10 engines. This tradition is likely to continue with the second-generation car despite the fact that Audi discontinued the V-8 mill and the starting price sits a lot higher because of that. On the other hand, the lack of a manual transmission is a serious issue that will likely upset a lot of purists. However, Audi is only doing what other automakers are doing with their sports cars — ditching manual gearboxes for dual-clutch automatics.

  • Leave it
    • No manual transmission
    • Not likely to receive a Plus version

Update History

Update 7-29-2016: Audi has announced that the R8 Spyder will be priced from £129,990 (including destination fees) in the U.K. That translates to nearly $172,000 at current exchange rates. Check out the details as well as the options available in the Prices section below.

Updated 03/23/2016: Audi unveiled the all new, 2017 R8 Spyder at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Updated 03/09/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming R8 Spyder cruising on the streets of Europe with absolutely no camouflage on it. And we have to admit, the car looks amazing in yellow. Of course we all know what this means: and official debut should happen shortly.

Spy Shots

March 9, 2016 - Audi R8 Spyder caught free of camouflage

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder Exterior Spyshots
- image 669072
2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder Exterior Spyshots
- image 669077
2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder Exterior Spyshots
- image 669075

Press Release

Spectacular design and breathtaking dynamism, combined with the allure of open-top driving – Audi presents the new Audi R8 Spyder at the New York International Auto Show 2016 from March 23 to April 3. Its V10 naturally aspirated engine supplies 397 kW (540 hp) and 540 Nm (398.3 lb-ft) of torque.

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670351

The new open-roof high-performance sports car opens another chapter in the Audi R8 success story. It all started in 2007 with the market introduction of the first-generation Coupé, followed by the Spyder in 2010. Sales of both versions combined reached nearly 27,000. They demonstrate the high-tech expertise of Audi and the brand’s affinity with motorsport. The brand restates this with the second R8 generation – its engineers developed the new Audi R8 Le Mans, a GT3 racing car, in parallel with the production models. As a result, almost 50 percent of all the parts used on the R8 LMS are also to be found in the R8. The success of the new Coupé is confirmed by prestigious awards bestowed on it last year, such as the “Golden Steering Wheel” and the “Auto Trophy”.

“Our new R8 line is the sporty vanguard of Audi,” remarked Board Member for Development Dr.-Ing. Stefan Knirsch. “Following on from the Coupé, we are now bringing out the second generation of the R8 Spyder. The open high-performance sports car delivers thrillingly captivating performance and gives the driver an even more direct experience of the V10 naturally aspirated engine’s unmistakable sound.”

Athletic design: wider than predecessor
The dynamic character of the new Audi R8 Spyder V10 is immediately apparent at first glance. The forward position of the passenger compartment, the highly accentuated wheel arches and the long back define the classic silhouette of a mid-engine sports car. The new R8 Spyder is 14 millimeters (0.6 in) shorter than the previous model and measures an overall 4,426 millimeters (14.5 ft) in length. It has grown by 36 millimeters (1.4 in) in width to 1,940 millimeters (6.4 ft). The height of 1,244 millimeters (4.1 ft) is unchanged from the first-generation R8 Spyder, as is the wheelbase of 2,650 millimeters (8.7 ft).

Horizontal lines at the front and rear emphasize the width of the R8 Spyder, as does the large, low-height Audi Singleframe with its radiator grille in honeycomb structure. Sculptural surfaces connect it to the wedge-shape headlights in each of which 37 light-emitting diodes generate bright LED light as standard. As a high-end option, Audi offers laser lighting for maximum visibility and range – identified by a blue anodized strip in the headlights that is additionally lit. This cutting-edge technology is combined with the dynamic indicator lights. At the rear, it is supplied as standard on all versions.

Typically Audi: lightweight cloth hood
The newly developed hood of the R8 Spyder is made of cloth, in typical Audi fashion. It weighs a mere 44 kilograms (97.0 lb), thus contributing to the low overall weight of this high-performance sports car. An electro-hydraulic drive opens and closes the soft top at the press of a button in just 20 seconds, and this can even be done while driving at speeds up to 50 km/h (31.1 mph). The hood module is located behind the seats. It comprises the components roll-over protection, hood, hood tray, rear-window compartment and a multiple-joint hinge for the carbon fiber reinforced, hydraulically powered hood compartment cover.

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670352

The levels of road and wind noise inside the car are much lower than on the predecessor model. With the hood down, air turbulence at head level has also been reduced. There is a wind deflector made from synthetic textile for an extra boost to comfort. It reduces the reverse flow around the head by approximately 90 percent and around the shoulder/neck by 80 percent. As well as the textile wind deflector, with the hood open the rear window can act as an additional wind deflector. Whereas if it is retracted, the driver will have an even more intense experience of the V10 engine’s characteristic roar.

The flat storage compartment into which the hood is folded down as it opens has a large cover with three sporty ventilation slits on each side. Two fins running to the rear stretch the hood and give the R8 Spyder a dynamic profile. The hood is available in three different colors: black, brown and red.

Lightweight construction with carbon fiber components: dry weight just 1,612 kilograms (3,553.9 lb)
The new Audi R8 Spyder V10 impressively demonstrates the dynamic potential of lightweight automotive construction with a dry weight of 1,612 kilograms (3,553.9 lb). The power-to-weight ratio is just 3.19 kilograms (8.6 lb) per hp.

The key to this outstanding figure is the new Audi Space Frame (ASF) that uses the multi-material construction principle. As in the R8 Coupé*, it combines aluminum components with structurally integrated carbon fiber reinforced polymer. The aluminum components make up 79.6 percent of the multi-material ASF. In a progression from the Coupé version, they form a lattice that Audi’s engineers have used to incorporate specific reinforcements especially into the sills, A-posts and windscreen frame. Innovative manufacturing methods lower the weight of individual components by up to ten percent. Overall, the ASF in the new Audi R8 Spyder weighs just 208 kilograms (458.6 lb); what is more, its torsional rigidity has increased by 50 percent compared with the previous model. It has achieved top marks for acoustics and crash safety, too. The underbody has a smooth trim, to improve the aerodynamics. And at the rear, a large diffuser increases the downforce – two more solutions taken directly from motorsport.

Inspiring: the V10
With its precise throttle response, free-revving ability all the way up to 7,800 rpm and stunning sound, the ten-cylinder engine guarantees goosebumps. From its 5,204 cm3 displacement, it develops a power of 397 kW (540 hp) and a torque of 540 Nm (398.3 lb-ft) at 6,500 rpm. Along with direct injection into the combustion chambers (FSI), the V10 adds fuel injection into the induction manifold (MPI). The result is captivating performance: The new Audi R8 Spyder V10 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.6 seconds. It races from a standstill to 200 km/h (124.3 mph) in 11.8 seconds. The speedometer needle only stops rising at 318 km/h (197.6 mph). The snarl and roar of the V10 become more full-throated and passionate as the revs rise. Exhaust flaps are standard; the optional sport exhaust system with gloss black tailpipe trims gives the sound added edge.

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670353

Compared with the previous model, NEDC fuel consumption has been cut by ten percent – thanks to efficiency technologies such as cylinder on demand (COD), the dual injection system and the freewheeling mode in the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission: when the driver takes their foot off the accelerator pedal at speeds over 55 km/h (34.2 mph), the engine is decoupled from the drivetrain – the new Audi R8 Spyder then coasts. It consumes on average 11.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (20.1 US mpg) which corresponds to 277 grams CO2 per kilometer (445.8 g/mi).

Triple-strength high-tech: the quattro drivetrain
The quattro drivetrain combines three high-tech modules: The seven-speed S tronic, which is located behind the engine, changes gear with lightning speed thanks to its two clutches. There is an electro-hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch on the front wheels, an electronic-control, watercooled system that distributes the V10’s torque freely between the axles. A mechanical rear differential lock is the key to sporty road behavior. Its locking values were newly tuned to work together with the actively controlled quattro drive.

The driving dynamics control for the quattro drive is integrated into the Audi drive select system, which offers the four modes comfort, auto, dynamic and individual. In each of these, the open-top high-performance sports car displays a different character ranging from effortless autobahn cruising to a style that savors every bend on a mountain pass. The system also draws on the accelerator characteristic, the steering, the S tronic, the exhaust flap control function and the optional adaptive damping system Audi magnetic ride.

The car’s handling becomes even more accomplished and precise with the optional performance leather steering wheel, which makes its debut in the R8 Spyder. It adds three more driving programs: dry, wet and snow. Because each mode has its own specific friction parameters, the driver can adapt their R8 Spyder individually to the prevailing conditions of the road being traveled. As well as the above technical modules, the ESC stabilization control system also influences these modes.

Firm and precise: the suspension
The R8 Spyder owes its decidedly dynamic handling among other factors to the low installed position of the engine, which is achieved thanks to dry sump lubrication. The wheels are controlled by lightweight aluminum wishbones – a layout that reveals motorsport DNA. The electromechanical power steering provides excellent road contact thanks to its subtly differentiated feedback. Alternatively dynamic steering is available. It changes the ratio as a function of speed, while adapting the steering torque to suit. The result is an even more precise steering feel and enhanced ride comfort.

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670354

Audi supplies the new R8 Spyder as standard with 19-inch wheels with a mix of tires (245/35 at front and 295/35 at rear). There is the option of 20-inch wheels with size 245/30 tires at the front and 305/30 tires at the rear. The brakes provide supremely controlled retardation for the open-top high-performance sports car. The calipers are each fitted with eight pistons on the front wheels, and four on the rear wheels. Large, ventilated and perforated wave-design discs are used all round. As an equipment option, Audi can also supply extra-durable, lightweight brake discs made from carbon fiber reinforced ceramic material capable of handling especially high loads.

The controls: full focus on the driver
The operating concept of the new Audi R8 Spyder V10 focuses consistently on the driver, as in a racing car. The driver can control all important functions from the new sport or performance leather steering wheel. Their hands remain on the steering wheel so that they can concentrate fully on the road. Standard features include satellite buttons for starting and stopping the engine, and for the driving dynamics system Audi drive select. The performance leather steering wheel comes with two additional control satellites – one for the performance mode, and one for the exhaust flap control.

The standard Audi virtual cockpit presents all information in richly detailed, high-resolution 3D graphics on a 12.3-inch monitor. The driver can choose between three screens – the classic view, the infotainment view and the performance view. Ambitious drivers taking to the racetrack will particularly appreciate the latter, which supplies data on torque, power output, oil and tire temperatures, lap times and g-forces The displays around the speedometer and rev counter can be customized to individual preferences.

MMI navigation plus with MMI touch is standard equipment in the R8 Spyder. As with a smartphone, its control features are structured in flat hierarchies, including a free text search function. Vehicle functions can be controlled from the steering wheel, the MMI terminal on the console of the center tunnel or by natural-language voice control. The latter is especially convenient and delivers high-quality results thanks to three small microphones in the belts. They are standard in the R8 Spyder.

Well connected: Audi connect and Audi smartphone interface
The perfect counterpart to MMI navigation plus is the Audi connect module, which gets the open two-seater on the Internet via LTE and gives access to a wide range of services. These extend from navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View to online media streaming and real-time traffic information. Inductive smartphone charging via Audi phone box is available as an option. The Audi R8 Spyder is the first model on which selected mobile phone content can also be displayed directly in the Audi virtual cockpit via the Audi smartphone interface. From the middle of this year, this option will also be available for the R8 Coupé.

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 Spyder High Resolution Exterior
- image 670355

One highlight for audio enthusiasts is the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 13 loudspeakers, including the new head-restraint loudspeakers. There are two of these in each seat, positioned at ear level of the driver and passenger; they are notable for their excellent sound and low weight.

Top drawer: quality and equipment
The Audi R8 Spyder V10 is almost entirely hand-built at the “Audi Böllinger Höfe” purpose-made production plant near Neckarsulm. quattro GmbH is steadily building up its expertise in small production runs there. The manufactory character of the production operations affords ample scope to accommodate specific customer requests. The sport seats for driver and passenger come as standard – upholstered in exquisite diamond-pattern leather as an option. Alternatively Audi can supply bucket seats for even better lateral support.

Add-on body components such as the front spoiler, diffuser or the new, striking sideblades can be customized, for instance in high-gloss carbon fiber. Another element that is both a technical innovation and provides visual differentiation is the optional Audi laser lighting with anodized blue strip. An entirely new color is available especially for the R8 Spyder, Argus brown, matt, along with ten other paint finishes.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: