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First look: Audi’s R8 Spyder emerges

Spyder bite: The Audi R8 Spyder emerged at Frankfurt, complete with Lamborghini-sourced V10 power.

Audi unveils its all-new R8 Spyder supercar hours before Frankfurt world debut

15 Sep 2009

AUDI has issued full details of its much-anticipated R8 Spyder on the eve of its world debut at the Frankfurt motor show.

Sharing the limelight at the 63rd Internationale Automobil Ausstellung alongside another new take on the R8 super-coupe – the electric e-Tron, full details of which were still to surface as GoAuto closed late last night – the R8 Spyder has emerged in full production trim and with no less than the Lamborghini-sourced 5.2-litre V10 engine from the coupe.

The arrival of the soft-roofed supercar comes as no great surprise after being spied testing at the Nurburgring, and, when it is launched here during 2010, will serve as another image-leading niche model that will assist in the German manufacturer’s quest to achieve 15,000 annual sales on Australian soil by 2015.

One of eight all-new models to be launched worldwide over this period, the R8 Spyder is certain to set a new price benchmark for Audi in Australia, eclipsing the $351,000 R8 5.2 FSI V10 quattro super-coupe launched last month.

The structural strengthening needed to compensate for the lack of a roof has added a mere 100kg to the kerb weight of the supercar, now tipping the scales at 1720kg, which does little to blunt the blistering performance on offer from the V10, which delivers no less than 386kW of power at 8000rpm and 530Nm of torque from 6500rpm.

7 center imageWhereas that enables the all-wheel drive coupe to blast from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds in both manual and R-tronic guise, the Spyder reaches the same mark in 4.1 seconds. According to the first details issued last night, the Spyder is also a fraction behind the coupe in terms of top speed – 313km/h compared to 316km/h in the hard-headed derivative. As if it matters.

Like all Audi convertibles, the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro has a textile roof, which weighs just 30kg to keep the kerb weight and the centre of gravity as low as possible. Audi claims the electro-hydraulic soft-top opens and closes in 19 seconds at speeds of up to 50km/h. When opened, it folds in Z formation into a storage compartment over the mid/rear-mounted V10 engine.

A heated glass window is included, but is separate from the roof, enabling the driver to lower or close it at will – whether the top is up or down. A net-like wind deflector is included as standard equipment and can be latched into the bulkhead behind the seats.

Audi claims that the fabric roof and headliner are compatible with high-speed driving, and that interior noise levels are “barely higher” than in the coupe when driving at moderate speeds. The bulkhead includes integrated rollover protection in the form of two spring-tensioned plates.

Head/thorax side airbags are also installed in the backrests to protect the occupants in the event of a side-on crash, while regular full-size airbags are included at the front.

While the Spyder has the same powerful stance as the coupe, the design treatment behind the cabin includes a couple of striking arched cowls which extend to the spoiler lip and include large, integrated cooling vents. The side panels and the large cover over the storage compartment for the cloth top are also made from a carbon-fibre composite.

Among the cabin features developed for the Spyder is a claimed world-first (optional) seatbelt microphone for the hands-free units, which makes it possible to talk on the phone even with the top down and, presumably, at speeds up to 313km/h.

Three small, flat microphones are integrated into both seatbelts, ensuring that at least one of them is well positioned relative to the speaker when the belt is on. A fourth microphone is installed in the windshield frame.

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