Audi R8 Spyder

Supercars are generally defined by their engines and the Audi R8 is no different. The 5.2L V10 engine has been given some upgrades for the 2017 model year and the result is 540 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. It's a combination that is good for a top speed of 199 mph. For those that absolutely must have a car capable of 200 mph, the V10 Plus model features a 610 hp version of the V10. Top speed is rated at 205 mph for the Plus model. All-wheel drive is standard across the entire lineup as is a 7-speed S-tronic gearbox. Audi estimates that the base version will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, or 3.2 seconds for the Plus version.

Keeping things in control are magnetic shock absorbers, which use magnets suspended in fluid to instantly adjust suspension firmness on the fly. Bumps can thusly be dealt with as they are encountered, with the kind of speed that would've been impossible several years ago. Magnetic shocks also allow the R8 to be driven in one of four different modes, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual, meaning that the right setting for the conditions and for the driver's mood can always be found.

The Audi R8 is a sports car first and foremost, but that doesn't mean that it's an awful place to be, in fact it actually makes for quite a comfortable long distance cruiser. Standard features include Audi's AudiConnect infotainment system, a 550 Watt Bang & Olufsen Sound system, a multifunction steering wheel, heated, 18-way power adjustable sports seats, an Alcantara headliner, leather seating and automatic climate control. Standard exterior features include 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, power folding exterior mirrors and a parking assist system with a rearview camera.

The V10 Plus is of course slightly more performance oriented, so it actually sacrifices the stereo in favor of a lighter 5-speaker system and adds carbon fiber seats and door sills for less weight and by extension, more speed. The V10 Plus also gets a special "performance mode" which will adjust the traction control and stability control to aid the driver during high speed driving around a race track.

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Editors' First Take

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There's rain slapping my cheeks, creeping in over the windscreen giving me my second shower of the day. Wind is whipping past my glasses making me squint slightly, and the cold is making my jaw stiff. Doesn't sound that fun, right? Well... no. It was awesome. The roof was off the new Audi R8 Spyder, its 5.2-liter V10 singing the song of its people and the heated seat made sure my arse and back were toasty. Hell, even the heater was keeping my feet warm. I was grinning like a loon, keeping an eye out for errant sheep (thanks, Wales), and enjoying a mid-engined, naturally aspirated supercar in the driving rain.

When the first Audi R8 launched during the last decade it caused something of a stir - it had killer looks, an awesome V8 and drove remarkably well. The second generation launched in 2015 with an angrier look, a V10 engine shared with a Lamborghini and an automatic gearbox (no manual, sadly). The V10 Plus, a 610-horsepower, 413-pound-feet of torque monster with a big wing, is a spectacular car, the base V10 with a mere 540 horses and 398 pound-feet is similarly wonderful, if not quite as urgent. Or wingy.

A drop top was an inevitability, and now it's here. It comes with the 540-hp version of the V10, though I'll wager a Plus will make an appearance sooner rather than later. 0-62 mph takes 3.6 seconds (0.1 slower than the hard top) and you'll hit 197 mph if you're feeling brave enough and have a big runway to play on.

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