The extreme Audi R8 GT quite literally gets its second wind this week as a new open-air Spyder version of the even more focused 560PS super car makes its debut. Distilling the celebrated R8 V10 formula into an even more concentrated form, the more intensively weight optimized GT soft-top will deliver its breathtaking pace and handling poise to just 66 customers in the UK, and a total of 333 worldwide. They will have the opportunity to formally register their interest in right-hand-drive versions of the new 197mph drop-head via Audi Centres or the audi.co.uk web site from today. Ordering will begin later this summer ahead of first customer deliveries in early 2012.
Thanks to Audi ultra lightweight technology, the flagship version of the high-performance open-top sports car has trimmed a full 85 kg from the already low weight of the R8 V10 Spyder, and as a result weighs in at just 1,640kg. This helps it to accelerate from zero to 62mph in 3.8 seconds and to reach a top speed of 197mph.
The Audi Space Frame (ASF) body with its cast nodes, extruded sections and aluminium panels, accounts for just 214 kg of the car’s total weight. It is assembled predominantly by hand in the R8 workshop at the Neckarsulm plant. Final assembly of the car takes place in the same way.
The engine frame is made of ultra-light magnesium; additional elements of the body are made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP). Together, these components provide a weight saving of 5.5 kg.
Visual modifications accentuate the styling of the R8 GT Spyder. These include additional contrasting titanium grey trim elements, a front splitter with a dual lip, flics at the sides of the front bumper, red GT badges, round exhaust tailpipes, an enlarged diffuser and dark LED tail lights in a clear-glass design. An optional windscreen frame in matte CFRP is also available.
Audi engineers also trimmed weight from the technical components in the transmission, wheels and brakes. In the interior, the bucket seats alone, with their chassis of glass fibre-reinforced polymer (GFRP), saved 31.5 kg.
In classic Audi fashion, the R8 GT Spyder features a lightweight fabric soft top that is extremely quiet even when motorway cruising at higher speeds. Its electrohydraulic drive raises or lowers it in 19 seconds, even at speeds of up to 31mph. The powered retractable glass rear window is nestled in the bulkhead, separate from the soft top. The bulkhead also incorporates a rollover protection system comprising two pre-tensioned plates.
Prodigious power: the drivetrain
The performance offered by the new top-of-the-line model in the R8 family is formidable. The 5.2-litre V10 with an aluminium crankcase draws its fuel from an FSI direct injection system. Dry-sump lubrication ensures a reliable supply of oil even under maximum lateral or straight-line acceleration.
With its modified electronic management, the long-stroke engine produces 540 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm, and peak power of 560PS. In every situation, the engine impresses with its thrust and bite – and that unmistakable sound of an Audi ten-cylinder.
Gear changes in the R8 GT Spyder are handled by the R tronic sequential manual transmission without exception. Thanks to its electrohydraulic clutch and switching unit it shifts through each of its six gears within one tenth of a second at high load and engine speed, and it can operate in Normal, Sport and ‘manual’ modes.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system has a strong rear-wheel bias which is accentuated by the axle load distribution. If the situation calls for it, the system sends additional torque to the front axle. In tandem with the limited slip differential at the rear, it provides an added measure of high speed traction, stability and composure compared with more conventionally configured sports cars.
The suspension, too, works in favour of absolutely rewarding yet remarkably controllable handling. Aluminium double wishbones locate the wheels, and the rack-and-pinion power steering provides intimate feel and feedback. Taut tuning lowers the body by approximately 10 millimetres onto 19-inch wheels with 235/35 tyres up front and 295/30 tyres at the rear. The large, lightweight carbon-fibre ceramic brake discs decelerate the car with exceptional fade-free efficiency. The Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) has a sport mode and can also be deactivated entirely.
Pure comfort: the interior and equipment
Great attention to detail is evident in the materials and workmanship inside the car. The salient aspect of the controls is their logically structured design. The open two-seater offers a roomy interior, and its front end load area can accommodate up to 100 litres of cargo. The rear bulkhead houses three storage compartments.
The interior is finished in black and can be trimmed in a choice of titanium grey or crimson red for added refinement. Alcantara upholstery comes as standard, and also features on the sports steering wheel and inner windscreen rail.
Audi also offers leather in Fine Nappa quality. Numerous details – including white dials and R8 GT logos – emphasize this car’s very special position within the R8 range. The distinctive R8 “monoposto,” a large arch encircling the driver’s cockpit, is made of matte CFRP.
Audi ultra requires no sacrifice on the part of R8 GT Spyder owners. Standard equipment includes LED headlights, LED tail lights, an automatic air conditioning system, DVD-based satellite navigation and the driver information system with a built-in lap timer.
A sophisticated sound system from Bang & Olufsen and a Bluetooth interface including a seatbelt microphone allowing drivers to hold phone conversations on the move are also standard features.