An ex­clu­sive color an­nounces the ar­rival of the drop-top

Top Gear (Philippines) - - News Metal - WORDS BY FERMAN LAO

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.

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