As its corporate cousin Porsche moves ever closer to an all-turbo lineup, Audi is thinking different, at least with own flagship sports car. The German carmaker demonstrated its contrarian approach to this segment of the market — one that includes the turbocharged Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet and Mercedes-AMG SL63 — with the reveal of the new, naturally aspirated R8 Spyder V10 this week at the New York auto show.
The R8’s 5.2-litre V10 produces 540-horsepower at 7,800rpm — without the assistance of turbochargers. And, matched to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the engine is seriously rev-happy, with a redline of 8,700rpm. Peak torque of 398 pound-feet arrives at an extremely high 6,500rpm. The Spyder does the dance, too: Audi claims the car will run from zero to 100kph (62mph) in only 3.6 seconds and press on to a top-down top speed of 197mph.
Though it’s not shy on outright power, the visceral result of a clear throat from exhaust port to the outside world is auditory catnip. Too often, turbos are the automotive larynx’s phlegm, preventing the ability to sing. No such phlegm here.
The Spyder does the dance, too: Audi claims the car will run from zero to 100kph (62mph) in only 3.6 seconds and press on to a top-down top speed of 197mph.
The new R8 Spyder’s structure is 50% more rigid than the outgoing model — “which actually was already quite high,” says Audi’s Filip Brabec, Director of Product Management in the US. “At-the-limit driving is therefore more stable, but as an engineer, you are also able to better and more finely tune the chassis when you have a highly stable platform.”
And the numbers bear out the claims. The new R8 Spyder’s space frame weighs only 459lbs (208kg), 15% lighter than before and just 14lbs (6.4kg) heavier than the R8 coupe's structure. As for materials, the unibody is 12% carbon-fibre, 80% aluminium and 8% percent glue and connecting hardware. While on the topic, the Spyder’s top uses a main roof panel also made from carbon-fibre. The top itself stows fully in only 20 seconds and can do so while the car is travelling up to 31mph (50kph).
The cockpit sees significant changes, with a wide electronic virtual instrument cluster screen ahead of the driver and no display on the centre console, which now houses only ventilation controls, keeping the driver focused ahead. The high-def screen itself is shaped like a gauge cluster, not a rectangle, and it offers very high-contrast visuals, a definite plus in a roofless car. The R8 Spyder also has speakers in the headrests, and when top is down and the windows are lowered, the audio system changes the equalisation and power amp settings to overcome the higher noise floor.
“We want the new R8 Spyder to provide a natural response and visceral feel in this class of sports car,” says Brabec. “That’s what makes the magic.”
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