New spin on Spy­der

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

TRADE­MARKS of Audi’s first su­per­car have been tossed out in the new R8 Spy­der.

Gone is the distin­guish­ing car­bon­fi­bre side­plate that made it in­stantly recog­nis­able and gone is the vis­i­ble en­gine un­der the glass hatch that at­tracted sali­vadrool­ing school­boys.

These changes were nec­es­sary to ac­com­mo­date the rag top.

Audi es­chews the trendy move to metal fold­ing roofs with their com­plex­ity, added weight and space re­stric­tions.

De­spite the light­weight rag top, alu­minium space frame and more car­bon­fi­bre body pan­els, the Spy­der is 100kg heav­ier than the coupe yet still quite rigid.

Audi Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Uwe Ha­gen ex­pects to sell about 50-60 a year ‘‘in the be­gin­ning and hope­fully more in fu­ture’’.

‘‘We are en­ter­ing a com­pletely new area,’’ he said.

‘‘In some points it’s like a toy.

‘‘It’s nor­mally not a car you would use ev­ery day. ‘‘But the auto trans­mis­sion is good for ev­ery day so you don’t get a weak left leg from a heavy clutch.’’ PRIC­ING Ha­gen said the Spy­der will com­pete against con­vert­ibles from As­ton, Maserati and the Benz SL.

At $376,100 for the man­ual and $392,000 for the R tronic trans­mis­sion, it’s less than the As­ton DB9 Volante ($389,389 man­ual, $398,128 auto), but more than the Maserati Grancabrio ($338,000) and Benz SL 500 ($331,350).

It comes stan­dard with 19-inch al­loys, B&O sound sys­tem, Blue­tooth, elec­tric-ad­justed heated Nappa leather seats, LED head­lights, cam­era park­ing sys­tem, anti-theft alarm and sat­nav.

The Blue­tooth in­ter­face has three mi­cro­phones in the seat­belts so your voice can still be heard when the roof is open. Op­tions in­clude big­ger wheels ($1483), bucket seats ($9100), ce­ramic brakes ($25,422), ex­tra leather ($8700) and car­bon­fi­bre in­te­rior in­lays ($5720). TECHNOLOGY Audi Aus­tralia prod­uct plan­ning man­ager John Roberts said the R8 Spy­der is ‘‘not just a ver­sion of the coupe’’, but a sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent car.

The most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence is the roof which weighs 42kg and has a light­weight car­bon­fi­bre cover, a com­pact Z-fold de­sign and ex­tended fins to re­tain the coupe roofline.

The rear glass win­dow is sep­a­rate to the roof and when the roof is down, it rises part of the way to act as a wind break.

There is an­other wind break in the snug 100L lug­gage com­part­ment.

The Spy­der has a 5.2-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V10 that scorches to high­way speed in 4.1 sec­onds.

It comes with a six-speed man­ual gear­box.

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