There’s no sign yet of Audi R8 development slowing down. What started only as a V8 coupé became a V8 or V10 coupé, and then came the soft-topped variant, initially available only with the same V10 engine as you’ll find in the coupé (and, with slight differences, the Lamborghini Gallardo).

Predictably, a V8-powered Spyder came along later, to complete the set.

Cutting the roof clean off a coupé, however, is a process fraught with potential drama. Inevitably, a car’s weight will increase in an effort to retain some of the torsional rigidity that the metal roof would give it.

And there is no replacement metal here; Audi has opted for a cloth hood rather than the folding metal option preferred by Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari.

Our test R8 arrives in what is effectively ‘base’ Spyder spec – with a stick-shift manual gearbox and shorn of options.

Top 5 Sports roadsters

  • The Boxster is the cheapest Porsche you can buy

    Porsche Boxster

    1
  • The BMW Z4 has more comfort and added practicality, but has it gone soft?

    BMW Z4

    2
  • Evolutionary looks shroud new underpinnings. Is it a good mix?

    Mercedes-Benz SLK

    3
  • Mazda MX-5
    Mazda's MX-5 has been established for decades as an affordable and enjoyable rear-drive convertible

    Mazda MX-5

    4
  • The 370Z has the pace, looks, kit, value and charm, so what’s the catch?

    Nissan 370Z

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?
  • First Drive
    20 February 2015
    Remember Mercedes' 6x6 monster off-roader? Well, this is the 4x4 version, and we've driven it.