AUDI’S R8 V10 PLUS SPYDER IS THE BEST NEWS WE’VE HAD THIS SPRING SINCE THE RESURGENCE OF POLKA DOT BIKINIS

BY EVAN MONROE

In late August of last year, Audi’s R8 V10 plus Spyder made its U.S. debut at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California. Among the more than 200 vehicles exhibited, and in a throng of more than 5,000 attendees, we found ourselves competing for space more aggressively around the Spyder than any other model, even with the RS 5 coupe and R8 LMS GT3 race car steps away.

Essentially all the performance, handling, and interior refinements of the R8 V10 Coupe and regular Spyder V10, but with the thrill of drop top living, the Spyder V10 Plus tweaks the naturally aspirated 5.2 liter V10 engine to produce a slightly increased 610 horsepower, hitched to a seven speed S tronic dual clutch transmission. This means a 0 to 60 time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 204 mph. Its electrohydraulic system raises and lowers the roof (which folds into a flat storage compartment over the engine) in a crisp 20 seconds, and automatically disables the system at speeds over 30 mph (to this day, it’s difficult to forget the consequences of a high speed deployment in my Saab 900 convertible).

As vital as athleticism is, it’s the Spyder’s predatory stance that has us hooked. The body design, more strikingly athletic than the prior R8, is marked by a cockpit positioned far forward, plus prominent wheel arches. Width has been boosted by an inch, but length overall is decreased, which helps emphasize the flat and wide footprint. And for the first time on the Spyder, the strong shoulder line is now complemented by retaining a lower sideblade, while trapezoidal exhaust outlets highlight the rear. Added ventilation across the deck lid replaces the adaptive rear spoiler and helps improve engine cooling.

Inside, the monoposto arc and center console that pays homage to the shape of a racecar cockpit presents joyfully easy to operate controls. Behind the wheel is the Audi Virtual cluster, which replaces the classic instrument panel, presenting instead a large, high resolution 12.3 inch display, refreshing at a TV like 60 frames per second.

Prices start at $194,000.

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