Audi designed the R8 from the outset in the full knowledge that there would be a convertible version, so it should come as no surprise that the styling looks rather pleasingly resolved.
From an engineering standpoint, however, removing the roof from a coupé is not usually something that can be done without compromise, and the same is true enough in this case. The R8 is heavier and less rigid than the coupé that spawned it.
The R8’s aluminium spaceframe has been strengthened to cope with the absence of its conventional roof, but once you factor in the removal of plenty of aluminium from above your head, the frame itself has been subject to a mere 6kg weight gain.
To minimise further weight gain, the door skins are now carbonfibre rather than aluminium, as is the engine cover – which is a stressed element to improve rigidity.
Then come the other add-ons. The hood itself weighs 42kg, while there are plates beneath the R8’s front and rear subframes. On the coupé these plates are plastic and serve only to aid aerodynamics, but here they are made from aluminium and provide extra rigidity. The overall weight gain is precisely 100kg. Body rigidity has dropped by 20 percent.
That aside, the R8 Spyder is very much the mid-engined, four-wheel-drive R8 we know and, for the most part, love. At launch, only the V10 engine variant was offered (the V8 followed once the queue for V10s shortened), available, as in the coupé, with either a six-speed manual or the R-tronic robotised manual gearbox – the latter in effect the same as Lamborghini’s e-gear.