The Audi R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro – fascinating dynamics
* V8 engine with 316 kW (430 hp), quattro all-wheel drive standard
* Lightweight and quiet cloth top with electrohydraulic drive
* Aluminum body with large components of carbon fiber composite
Audi is adding another model to its R8 high-performance sports car lineup: Hot on the heels of the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro comes another model with a V8 engine. The 4.2-liter FSI produces 316 kW (430 hp) and launches the open-top two-seater to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 299 km/h (185.79 mph). The engine is mated to the R tronic sequential manual gearbox; quattro permanent all-wheel drive is standard.
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro has a lightweight cloth top with a fully automatic drive. Its body is an aluminum Audi Space Frame with large-area components of carbon fiber composite material. A fit and finish typical of Audi, excellent everyday practicality and optional high-end technologies – from LED headlights to seatbelt microphone – complete the profile of the model athlete.
Superior power: the engine
The free-breathing 4.2 FSI is a high-performance engine such as can be found in racing. It delivers an experience that enthralls all of the senses – with spontaneous, voracious throttle response, with its easy revving, with hefty torque, prodigious power and sonorous, voluminous music.
The V8 accelerates the R8 Spyder from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 4.8 seconds and on up to a top speed of 299 km/h (185.79 mph). Both values apply for the manual transmission and for the R tronic. At Audi, dynamics also always means efficiency. The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro with the R tronic consumes on average 13.9 liters of fuel per 100 km (16.92 US mpg); fuel consumption with the manual transmission is 14.9 liters per 100 km (15.79 US mpg). A recuperation system that recovers energy during braking is standard. The forced oil pump of the dry sump lubrication system features various suction and discharge stages for load-dependent operation.
The 4.2 FSI, which is also used in this form in the R8 Coupé, produces 316 kW (430 hp) from a displacement of 4,163 cc – 73.5 kW (103.2 hp) per liter. At the nominal engine speed of 7,900 rpm, the long-stroke (bore x stroke 84.5 x 92.8 millimeters [3.33 x 3.65 in]) engine's eight pistons travel 24.1 meters (79 ft) each second. The electronic rev limiter kicks in at 8,250 rpm. The V8 delivers 430 Nm (317.15 lb-ft) of torque to the crankshaft between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm, with at least 90 percent of peak torque available between 3,500 and 7,500 rpm.
The compact V8, which is hand-assembled at the engine factory in Györ, Hungary, has the classic cylinder angle of 90 degrees and weighs just 216 kilograms (476 lb). Its crankcase is made of an aluminum-silicon alloy using the low-pressure die casting method, which ensures particular homogeneity. The high silicon content makes the cylinder barrels extremely resistant to wear.
A bedplate structure gives the crankcase its high rigidity and optimal vibration behavior. The cast iron bearing bridges reduce its thermal expansion and thus keep the play at the main bearings of the crankshaft within tight limits. The forged crankshaft, the forged steel connecting rods and the forged aluminum pistons are extremely lightweight, yet strong. The dry sump lubrication system with its separate oil tank enables the engine to be installed very low while also ensuring the supply of oil to the engine even under extreme lateral acceleration.
The high-revving V8 FSI draws its fuel from an FSI gasoline direct injection system – typically Audi. The common rail unit injects the fuel at up to 120 bars of pressure. The fuel mixture is swirled intensely in the combustion chambers and thus cools the walls. This allows a high compression of 12.5:1, for increased performance and efficiency. The 32 valves are actuated via roller cam followers by four camshafts, each of which can be moved through 42 degrees of crankshaft rotation. They and the ancillaries are driven by zero-maintenance chains running on the back side of the engine.
The 4.2 FSI breathes through straight aluminum velocity stacks 23 centimeters (9.06 in) in length integrated into the dual intake system. The intake plenum is made of lightweight plastic. Vacuum-actuated flaps controlled by the engine management system are integrated into the intake ports. They cause the air to move with a roller-like rotation (to "tumble"), which increases the efficiency of the combustion process.
The dual-branch exhaust system features dual tailpipes. The exhaust system components and the pipes of the manifold have been designed for low backpressure and are very light. The exhaust flaps in both tailpipes open at higher load and engine speed for an even fuller sound.
Dynamic: the drivetrain
The Audi R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro comes standard with a manual six-speed transmission. It works together with a compact dual-disc clutch and can be shifted extremely precisely and easily with short throws. The shift lever is made of polished aluminum, the open gate of stainless steel.
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro is optionally available with the R tronic, a highly efficient sequential six-speed transmission. Shift commands are transmitted electrically; a hydraulic system changes the gears and manages the clutch. The R tronic offers both an automatic and a manual mode, both of which allow the driver to choose between two shift programs.
In manual mode, the driver changes gears using the joystick on the center tunnel or with the paddles on the steering wheel. At high load and engine speed, gear changes take less than a tenth of a second. The Launch Control program ensures optimal starts. It controls the engine speed and the engagement of the clutch to accelerate the open-top two-seater with the ideal wheel slip.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive delivers the engine's power to all four wheels. Together with the locking differential on the rear axle, it provides significantly greater traction, stability, cornering speed and precision. The four powered wheels seem to claw into the asphalt at the exit of the corner, and the driver can get back on the throttle sooner than in a car with rear-wheel drive.
Due to the mid-engine layout, the quattro all-wheel drive system in the R8 Spyder is a special design with a strong rear bias. The transmission, which is mounted behind the longitudinally installed V8, has an auxiliary drive for a cardan shaft running past the engine to the front.
A viscous coupling distributes the torque at the front axle. During normal driving, it sends roughly 15 percent of the torque to the front wheels and 85 percent to the rear wheels. If the rear wheels begin to slip, an additional 15 percent is quickly sent to the front. A locking differential at the rear axle further improves dynamics. It provides up to 25 percent lockup when accelerating and up to 45 percent when coasting. If a wheel on one of the axles should slip, it is braked by the EDS electronic locking differential.
Highly emotional: the design
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro is 4.43 meters (14.53 ft) long, 1.90 meters (6.23 ft) wide and 1.24 meters (4.07 ft) tall – it has a wide, hunkered-down stance on the road as if ready to pounce. Its dynamic proportions, the sculpted design and the passenger cell situated far to the front with the flat windshield visually underscore the mid-engine concept. The large vertical air intakes are athletically sculpted out of the flanks, and the shadow contour of the rear end forms a powerful wave above the wheels.
An elliptical crease encircles the long back and provides visual structure. When viewed from above, it combines the passenger compartment and the engine into a single unit. Two arched cowls in glistening silver give the back a powerful profile. They taper from the bulkhead to the spoiler lip, and each includes six integrated air vents. Another wide discharge vent is located between the cowls.
Numerous other touches – from the single-frame grille painted in high-gloss black to the exposed gas cap of solid aluminum – document the Audi designers' great attention to detail.
The headlights are technical works of art – this applies to the standard xenon plus units and even more so for the optional LED headlights, which use light-emitting diodes for all lighting functions. Their reflectors resemble open mussel shells, and the daytime running lights appear to be a homogeneous strip extending along the lower edge of the headlight. One of Audi's greatest innovations, the LED light, has a color temperature very similar to that of daylight, making it easier on the eyes when driving at night. It also impresses with a long service life and extremely low energy consumption.
The rear of the R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro features LED tail lights as standard equipment. The exhaust system terminates in dual tailpipes on both the left and the right. The rear spoiler, which extends automatically at 100 km/h (62.14 mph), and the fully lined underbody generate a downforce that presses the high-performance sports car firmly to the road. With a drag coefficient of 0.37 and the small front surface area of 1.99 m2 (21.42 sq ft), however, the two-seater still glides easily through the wind. Audi applied a lot of the knowledge gleaned in motorsport to the flow of air around and through the body.
Audi offers the R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro with a choice of three colors for the top: black, red and brown. The body is available in the solid finishes Ibis White and Brilliant Red; the metallic finishes Suzuka Gray, Teak Brown, Ice Silver, Jet Blue and Aurum Beige; and the pearl effect finishes Daytona Gray, Sepang Blue, Lava Gray and Phantom Black. The windshield frame is coated with anodized aluminum.
Just 215 kilograms (474 lb): the body
Equipped with a manual transmission, the R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro weighs only 1,735 kilograms (3,825 lb) (including driver), and just five kilograms (11 lb) more with the R tronic. The decisive factor for this low weight is the aluminum body, which features an Audi Space Frame (ASF) design.
The body in white consists of three wrought components: Extruded aluminum sections comprise 75 percent; vacuum-cast nodes 8 percent; and the aluminum panels that are integrated into this skeleton with friction connections make up the remaining 17 percent. The body is largely assembled by hand with the utmost precision.
The open superstructure features special reinforcements in the area of the sills, the center tunnel, the rear bulkhead, the floor and both the A and B pillars, yet still only weighs 216 kilograms (476 lb). The high stiffness of the ASF body, which includes a co-supporting engine frame of ultra-lightweight magnesium, provides the foundation for the dynamic handling, superior crash safety and high vibrational comfort of the Audi R8 Spyder. The body tops its segment in terms of lightweight quality – the relationship between weight, size and torsional stiffness.
The side panels of the open-top two-seater are made of ultra-lightweight carbon fiber composite material (CFRP), as is the large cover over the roof compartment. They are produced using a new method called resin transfer molding (RTM). In addition to being faster and more energy-efficient than conventional production in an autoclave, RTM also yields superior surface quality. The use of carbon fiber composite enables weight savings of up to 60 percent over conventional steel components and also permits greater design freedom.
Lightweight and convenient: the cloth roof
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro has a cloth roof – a classic feature typical of Audi and without compromise for a high-performance sports car. The soft top's approximate weight is a mere 42 kilograms (93 lb); it thus keeps the vehicle's weight and center of gravity low. The top takes up little space when open, and is a harmonious design element when closed. It tapers off to two long, slim fins that extend to the trailing edge of the car and have an elongated contour similar to the fixed roof of the R8 Coupé.
The outer skin of the top is a leakproof textile fabric. A headliner covers the frame, which is made primarily of die-cast magnesium and aluminum. The soft top is fully suitable for high-speed driving. When driving at moderate speeds with the top up, interior noise levels in the R8 Spyder are barely higher than in the Coupé. The cloth top has an electrohydraulic drive that uses a system of actuators, hinges and hooks to open and close the top within 19 seconds, even while driving at speeds up to 50 km/h (31.07 mph). When opened, the 1.7 square meters (18.30 sq ft) of fabric folds in a Z-shape into its storage compartment over the engine. The CFRP compartment cover moves on two seven-joint hinges. The precise mechanical interaction of the two components is a pleasure to watch.
The heated glass window, which is separate from the cloth top, is lowered into the bulkhead between the passenger compartment and the engine compartment. It can be raised and lowered at the press of a switch, with the soft top up or down. An additional wind deflector comes standard. It latches into the bulkhead behind the seats in two steps and keeps the cabin nearly draft-free at speeds of up to roughly 200 km/h (124.27 mph).
The top with its rear-window module, the storage compartment, the cover and the rollover protection system forms a premounted assembly. It is inserted into the ASF body at the manufacturing plant at Audi's Neckarsulm site, where the R8 Spyder is built, lending the body additional stiffness.
Located in the bulkhead is a rollover protection system comprising two strong, spring-loaded sections that shoot up within 0.2 seconds when needed. In the event of a side impact, head/thorax side airbags in the backrests protect the passengers. Full-size airbags stand at the ready in the event of a head-on collision. In a rear-end collision, the integral Audi head restraint system reduces the risk of whiplash injuries.
Technical expertise: the chassis
Mesmerizing emotions embedded in perfect technical expertise – the R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro is an integrated system of speed. It steers spontaneously, almost reflexively, into corners and takes them with stoic composure. The limit is very high and easily controlled. The hydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering connects the driver intimately with the road. With a steering ratio of 16:1, it is sporty and direct, but never nervous in its response.
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro has a wheelbase of 2.65 meters (8.69 ft). Its axle load distribution is 43:57 percent; the track measures 1.64 meters (5.38 ft) up front and 1.60 meters (5.25 ft) at the rear. Forged aluminum double wishbones – a principle borrowed from race car construction – locate the wheels. Their rubber-metal bearings divert the lateral forces precisely into the body while at the same time ensuring high longitudinal elasticity. The setup provides for surprisingly good comfort in everyday driving. A dedicated sports suspension is available as an option.
Another option for the R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI is Audi magnetic ride adaptive damping. The system uses magnetic fields in the hydraulic shock absorbers to adjust their response to road conditions within milliseconds and adapt to the driver's style. There is a choice of two basic characteristics. During fast cornering and when braking, the control unit reduces body pitch and roll through the targeted increase of damping force at the individual wheels.
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro rolls on 18-inch wheels shod with 235/40 tires up front and 285/35 tires in the rear. A tire pressure indicator is standard. Audi offers optional 19-inch wheels in a variety of designs – monochrome or two colors, polished or in titanium look.
Behind the wheels are powerful disc brakes measuring 365 millimeters (14.37 in) in diameter up front and 356 millimeters (14.02 in) in the back. To quickly dissipate the heat, they are internally ventilated, perforated and composed of two pieces – stainless steel pins connect the steel friction rings to the aluminum caps.
Black, eight-piston calipers grab the front discs, with four-piston calipers used in the rear. The 19-inch wheels are optionally available with perforated carbon fiber-ceramic discs that are extremely lightweight, robust, long-lived and corrosion-free.
The open high-performance sports car has a specially configured stability system on board. With the touch of a button, the driver can activate a sport mode that permits exciting but safe oversteer when the gas is applied while exiting a corner. The ESP together with the anti-slip control can also be deactivated completely for dynamic driving.
Luxury and dynamics: The interior and equipment
Three strengths characterize the interior of the Audi R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro: the uncompromising quality with respect to the use and finish of the materials; the generous amount of room; and the high degree of practicality.
Drivers and passengers of any size find an ideal seating position in the sport seats with their pronounced side bolsters. The ring of the leather multifunction sport steering wheel is flattened. Visibility is good, with narrow A-pillars ensuring a large diagonal view to the front. Another advantage in everyday driving is the luggage compartment – there is space under the front hatch for 100 liters (3.53 cu ft). A storage box with three bins is located behind the seats.
A large arch, the "monoposto", encircles the interior, which is distinctly oriented toward the driver. The controls are clearly and logically structured; the standard automatic air conditioning system is specially matched to the needs of open-top driving. The driver information system integrates a lap timer for recording circuit times. Most of the interior is a sportily cool black; many controls shine in aluminum look.
Among the highlights of the standard equipment are seats covered with Fine Nappa leather, the aluminum door sills, the concert radio system with seven speakers, the xenon plus headlights, the LED tail lights, the automatic air conditioning system, the alarm system, the automatic top, the rollover protection system and the wind deflector. Metallic paint and heated seats are also standard.
Audi also offers an array of fine options – power seats, an interior lighting package, hill hold assist, cruise control, deluxe automatic air conditioning, a storage package and the high-beam assistant. All leather for the seats is colored with pigments that reflect the infrared component of sunlight, greatly reducing the heating of the interior.
Multimedia options include an excellent sound system from Bang & Olufsen with 450 watts of power, the Audi music interface for easily connecting an external player and a Bluetooth cell phone preparation. The navigation system plus is characterized by its MMI operating logic and a high-resolution 6.5-inch display. It can be combined with a reversing camera.
An enticing innovation from Audi is the seatbelt microphone for the hands-free unit and the speech dialogue system, which makes it possible to talk on the phone even with the top down on the highway. Both seatbelts house three small, flat microphones. At least one of them is ideally positioned relative to the speaker when the belt is on. There is a fourth microphone in the windshield frame.
Extreme individualists can choose from a wealth of exclusive options, the lion's share of which are provided by quattro GmbH. These include leather seat coverings in a wide variety of colors and grades, aluminum-look pedals, the carbon package for the exterior, inlays in carbon and piano finish black, Alcantara for the headliner and the luggage compartment lining and the custom luggage set.
The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro will be rolling into German showrooms in the third quarter of 2010. Sales will be starting soon at a base price of €121,000.