Top Gear drives the Audi R8 Spyder — The news is good

When chopping the roof off of a car, engineers must take caution to not disrupt the ride, handling and performance of the car. Losing the fixed roof for a folding one is a detriment to many things automotive. Not only does it cause the body to be less rigid, thanks to literally cutting the roof out, but the power folding mechanism, as well as all of the additional structural bracing required to re-stiffen the chassis up, adds a lot of weight. So this can cause shudder and vibrations over rough pavement and a feeling of looseness during handling. However, the folks in Ingolstadt have seem to have done a good job with the new Audi R8 Spyder.

The second generation Audi R8 is a stunning car but it looks even better sans roof. If there was ever a criticism about the R8’s styling it’s that it might seem a bit too intelligent, too honed by science. Look at a Ferrari and you know that a designer’s passion and skilled hand are what created it. Look at the R8 and it may seem as if machines from the future designed a perfect car. It’s stunning, if a bit too cold. Removing the roof, though, brings out a new side of the R8. It gives it some much needed character.

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Plus, according to the folks at Top Gear, the R8 Spyder hasn’t lost any of its dynamics during its transformation. Ride quality is still superb, thanks to the magnetic dampers, and there is no sign of body shudder or steering wheel shake over rough pavement. Would its lack of torsional rigidity show up on a track? Most likely, but this isn’t a track car, it’s a road car. And on the road, it’s superb.

In fact, it may actually be better than the coupe on the road, if Top Gear is to be believed. Reason being is that it adds more drama, more excitement to the otherwise clinical R8. The lack of roof provides an aural experience second to none in the automotive world. Other cars also sound great, but the lack of naturally-aspirated engines on the market gives the R8 Spyder a distinct advantage in the sound department. The R8 Spyder even has a power rear window, that can be operated independently of the roof. This allows it to be lowered with the roof still up, allowing all of that V10 noise in while being able to keep the roof up during colder months.

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Speaking of that V10, the Audi R8 Spyder gets a free-breathing 5.2 liter V10 with 540 hp and can get from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. There’s no “V10 Plus” variant of the Spyder yet, so it doesn’t get the full 610 hp. However, 540 hp is pretty much more than any human could ask for.

Overall, it seems that the Audi R8 Spyder could be the best R8 variant yet. It’s still fast enough to be a proper supercar, still handles like an R8 and has the same great ride quality. But it also adds some visual drama and some more of that glorious V10 noise. Sounds good to us.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.