Audi's second-generationsports car has powered into the sans roof, all 10 of its cylinders gloriously wailing. Dubbed the R8 Spyder as before, the mid-engined supermodel shares much of its chassis and all-wheel-drive bits with the -- not exactly a bad bloodline.
The new R8 Spyder is 0.6 inches shorter than its predecessor, but despite having the same overall height as the first-generation model, it looks lower than before, in part because it stretches 1.4 inches wider.
As expected, Audi has once again eschewed a complex and weighty folding hardtop in favor of a powered fabric solution which weighs 97 pounds all-in. The top -- available in black, brown or red -- can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour in 20 seconds, and there's an integrated wind deflector to keep from ruining your expensive new haircut.
The new roadster is therefore a bit heavier than its hard-hatted coupe counterpart, but it's 50 percent stiffer and still has plenty of thrust -- 8.6 horsepower per pound, says Audi. The high-revving 5.2-liter V-10 produces a full 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, enough to hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and power on to nearly 200 mph.
If you want a manual transmission, you're out of luck: Only a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with paddle shifters is offered, but at least it affords fuel-saving freewheeling (wherein the engine is decoupled from the driveline) when not under acceleration.
No word yet on pricing or ETA, but don't expect to see the R8's nifty optional laser headlamps in the US -- Washington still hasn't come to terms with a lot of the auto industry's latest lighting technology.
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