Audi first let on that it would be producing a droptop version of its limited-edition R8 GT when it released a few sketches of the car back in April, and the recent spy shots of a test mule roaming the streets were evidence that a production version was close at hand. Audi has finally made things official and released full details of the new V10-powered convertible.
Much of what made the R8 GT Coupe special stands true for the Spyder. Audi's main focus was on weight reduction, and by using a variety of lightweight materials it has managed to remove 85 kilograms off the total weight of the car. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic plays a large role in dropping the pounds, making up the cover for the soft top, the rear spoiler and the rear bumper. The largest weight-savers are the seats, though, which shed nearly 70 pounds.
Visually, the R8 GT Spyder sets itself apart with a dual-lip front spoiler, carbon fiber winglets on the front bumper, round tailpipes, a larger rear diffuser and dark LED taillights. Power output is identical to the coupe, with the 5.2-liter V10 producing 560 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. Audi claims a 0-100 kilometer per hour (62 miles per hour) time of just 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 197 mph. We're assuming that's with the top up...
Like the coupe, production will be extremely limited, with just 333 units scheduled for production. That exclusivity will surely carry a hefty price tag, and while pricing has yet to be announced for the U.S. market (its 207,800 Euro tag in Germany translates to over $300,000), and we expect it to carry a premium over the coupe's $198,000 MSRP. Follow the jump for the official PR and more details on the Audi R8 GT Spyder.
One year ago, Audi unveiled the R8 GT in coupe form as the new flagship model of the R8 model line. It wasn't long before all 333 units in the limited series were sold out. Now the open-top version of the high-performance sports car is being launched, with production again capped at 333 units. Each car sports a tag with its individual number on the gear lever knob.
The Audi ultra lightweight technology is the key to the R8 GT Spyder's weight of just 1,640 kilograms (3,615.58 lb). That's 85 kilograms (187.39 lb) less than its technical basis, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro. The Audi Space Frame (ASF) body, consisting of cast nodes, extruded sections and aluminum panels, accounts for just 214 kilograms (471.79 lb) of the total weight. The body is assembled predominantly by hand in the R8 workshop at the Neckarsulm plant. Final assembly of the car takes place in the same way.
The engine frame is made of ultra-light magnesium; the long cover over the soft-top compartment and the large side panels at the rear are made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). CFRP is also used for the modified front spoiler, the fixed rear spoiler and the new rear bumper. Together, these components provide a weight saving of 5.5 kilograms (12.13 lb).
Visual modifications accentuate the styling of the R8 GT Spyder. These include add-on parts in contrasting titanium gray, a front splitter with a dual lip, flics at the sides of the front bumper, red GT badges, round exhaust tailpipes, an enlarged diffuser and dark LED tail lights in a clear-glass design. Audi offers an optional windshield frame in matt CFRP.
Audi engineers also trimmed weight from the technical components in the area of the transmission, wheels and brakes. In the interior, the bucket seats alone, with their chassis of glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP), saved 31.5 kilograms (69.45 lb) of weight.
In classic Audi fashion, the R8 GT Spyder features a lightweight fabric soft top that is extremely quiet and fully suitable for highway cruising. Its electrohydraulic drive brings it up or down in 19 seconds, even at speeds up to 50 km/h (31.07 mph). The extendible glass rear window is nestled in the bulkhead, separate from the soft top. Integrated in the bulkhead is a rollover protection system comprising two pretensioned plates.
Prodigious power: the drivetrain
The performance offered by the new top-of-the-line model in the R8 family is formidable. The 5.2-liter V10 with an aluminum crankcase draws its fuel from an FSI direct injection system. Dry-sump lubrication ensures a reliable supply of oil even under maximum lateral or straight-line acceleration.
With its modified electronic management, the long-stroke engine produces 540 Nm (398.28 lb-ft) of torque at 6,500 rpm, and its peak output is 412 kW (560 hp). Each unit of horsepower has only 2.93 kilograms (6.46 lb) to move.
The R8 GT Spyder catapults from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 3.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 317 km/h (196.97 mph). In every situation, the engine impresses with its thrust and bite – and that unmistakable sound of an Audi ten-cylinder.
The R8 GT Spyder comes standard with an automated six-speed R tronic transmission with two fully automatic modes. In the additional manual mode, the driver can shift gears using the paddles on the steering wheel or by flicking the joystick. At high load and revs, gear changes take only one-tenth of a second. The launch control program manages the starting sprint with high engine speed and precision-control of the tire slip.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive has a strong rear-wheel bias, granted by the axle load distribution. If the situation calls for it, the system sends additional torque to the front axle. In tandem with the limited slip differential at the rear, it provides an added measure of traction, stability and cornering speed, giving it a strong lead over the rear-wheel-drive competition.
The suspension, too, is unrivaled in its performance. Aluminum double wishbones locate the wheels, and the rack-and-pinion power steering provides intimate contact with the road. Taut tuning lowers the body by approximately 10 millimeters (0.39 in). The open high-performance sports car has 19-inch wheels, with 235/35 tires up front and 295/30 tires at the rear. The large, lightweight carbon-fiber ceramic brake discs decelerate the car with supreme ease. The ESP stabilization program has a sport mode and can also be deactivated entirely.
Pure comfort: the interior and equipment
Great attention to detail is evident in the materials and workmanship inside the car. The salient aspect of the controls is their logically structured design. The open two-seater offers a roomy interior, and its front end can accommodate up to 100 liters (3.53 cu. ft) of cargo. The rear bulkhead houses three storage compartments.
The interior is black and can be adorned with stitching in a choice of titanium gray or crimson for added refinement. Alcantara upholstery comes standard – on the sport steering wheel and windshield frame, too.
Audi also offers leather in Fine Nappa quality. Numerous details – including white dials and R8 GT logos – provide classy accents. The distinctive R8 "monoposto," a large arch encircling the driver's cockpit, is made of matt CFRP.
Audi ultra requires no sacrifice on the part of R8 GT Spyder owners. The standard equipment includes LED headlights, LED tail lights, an automatic air conditioning system, the navigation system plus, an alarm system and the driver information system with a built-in laptimer.
Audi also offers a sophisticated sound system from Bang & Olufsen and a Bluetooth interface including a seatbelt microphone for carrying on a phone conversation conveniently. Options specific to the R8 GT include bucket seats with a carbon-fiber composite chassis, matt CFRP applications and embroidered logos on the seat upholstery.
The R8 GT Spyder will have a base price in Germany of 207,800 euros.