AUDI R8 SPYDER
An exclusive color announces the arrival of the drop-top
Our regular readers will find this month’s The Hardware featured car, the 2018 Audi R8, somewhat familiar. It’s newly updated, with a suite of incremental improvements and upgrades over the second-generation model first launched in 2015 at the Geneva Motor Show.
Two years later, it still kicks our old tickers into overdrive—and if it doesn’t elicit that sort of reaction from you, then you’re sorely in need of a pulse check. The R8 is one of the most well-thought- out and beautifully crafted supercars on the planet. And now, the soft-top version has followed—the R8 Spyder—the fastest series-production convertible from Ingolstadt. Giving it even more presence is the optional micrommata green design package. Just like the coupe version, the Spyder also pushes the boundaries of technology to push for a much broader performance envelope in its class.
Take, for example, the laser-equipped LED headlights. These come standard on the kingofthe-Quattro- hill R8 V10 Plus, and optional on the ‘meeker’ 533hp V10 variant. The laser lights, which appear blue in the headlamp assembly, activate from speeds of 64kph when conditions allow for it, and project a wide, low beam much farther than any conventional lighting configuration can achieve—half a kilometer, supposedly. When a car is capable of going at 330kph, any feature that promotes the driver’s visibility is not only an advantage, but also an important safety provision.
We all already know that the V10 Plus makes 602hp and 560Nm courtesy of its 5.2-liter mill, and that a seven-speed S Tronic transmission delivers power to the ground through all four wheels via Audi’s Quattro system. The Quattro application in this case allows for the torque to be either sent exclusively to the front wheels, or split between the front and rear axles as deemed necessary by the Audi Drive Select system. By default, Quattro is programmed to emulate the classic feel of a rear-wheel-drive sports car.
Nil to 100kph happens in 3.3sec, as befits a machine with true racing pedigree. In fact, almost half of the R8 is made up of parts that are also found on the Audi R8 GT3 LMS race car. Yes, the said parts on the regular model are shared with—not inspired by, not derived from—the racing version.
Of course, not everyone will drive the R8 Spyder to its full potential. For times when sanity, civility, and comfort must prevail, the Audi Drive Select system allows the character of the car to suit the mood of its current driver, changing not only the power output and delivery of the powertrain, but also parameters like ride comfort. The magneticfluid-equipped dampers are more than capable of adjusting quickly to any of the available settings. Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual are the common choices for the R8, but the Plus gets a bonkers Performance mode. Consider yourself warned.
Going back to the car’s racing heritage,
‘The R8 Spyder is Audi’s fastest seriesproduction soft-top’
the more apparent racing cues are found in the cockpit—as in the entire cockpit. The driver seat is enclosed in what Audi calls a monoposto arc, which emulates the business environment of a racing driver, right down to the multifunction steering wheel, the paddle shifters, and the satellite switchgear. A heightadjustable shell seat lets the driver find the best seating position, too. The buckets feature a pigment that resists heat from the sun for all that open-top motoring. Black Nappa leather with green contrast stitching matches the green paint job.
Right in front of the pilot is the Virtual Cockpit, which can show an assortment of vehicle and driving information in a number of ways. The choices are a traditional ‘analog’ multiple-gauge display, a racing-oriented display, and the MMI Navigation Plus display. The last one offers a plethora of technological features, including Google Earth with 3D satellite imagery, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, local traffic and weather updates (where available), and news.
There’ s also MM I touch, a‘ hand writingenabled’ data-entry system that does away with the virtual keyboard for faster map navigation. The R8 Spyder has the Audi Smartphone Interface, too—we’d actually swear that the carmaker’s engineers have seen the Anti-Distracted Driving Act coming. All told, it’s their foresight and attention to detail that make the latest R8 Spyder an even better machine than before.