What is it?
Darn fine car, the Audi R8 Coupé. Really, it’s among the best supercars you can buy, rubbing shoulders with the pantheon of greats from Maranello, Sant’Agata, Stuttgart and Woking. However, these supercars are rarely so super when you lop the roof off and turn them into cabriolets. Has this act of apparent brutality sullied the mighty R8?
In an attempt to maintain the structural rigidity of the Coupé the composite central tunnel and rear bulkhead have been retained, but the latter is modified to accommodate the folding roof. The aluminium spaceframe that extends forward from it also has thicker box sections in the sills and around the windscreen. This makes it 50% stiffer than the old R8 Spyder, but it still has 40% more flex than the current Coupé.
To keep it as light as possible – the complete soft-top mechanism alone weighs 44kg – there’s a carbonfibre engine cover. Under it you’ll find one of the very best engines available today: the delicious naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10. Its 533bhp matches the Coupé’s at the same 7800rpm, and adds 15bhp to the old car’s tally. Cylinder-on-demand tech lets it run on five cylinders by swapping between alternate banks of the vee, and along with both direct and indirect injection and an ability to freewheel when off the throttle, it’s as efficient as possible.
Our test is carried out in England, complete with its rigidity testing bumps, cambers and curves.