2017 Audi R8 Spyder Reviews & Specs – Just in time for summer, Audi is launching a convertible version of its 2017 Audi R8 Coupe supercar, the R8 Spyder, which makes its debut at the New York auto show. This dramatically proportioned roadster is the next addition to the growing lineup of second-generation R8 models, and, like the new R8 coupe, the Spyder features the same height and wheelbase as its predecessor, but it is both wider and shorter.
The new 2017 Audi R8 Spyder comes to market with the fabulous, naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-10, rated at 540 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. The high-revving engine can play the entire range from a dark growl to a piercing howl, and its soundtrack is no empty promise: From a standstill, 62 mph comes up in 3.6 seconds, according to Audi, and top speed is ungoverned at 198 mph. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic channels the power to all four wheels—most of the time.
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system can send as much as 100 percent to the front or the rear axle, although the default setup is strongly rear-biased. There is a GKN-supplied, water-cooled front differential and a limited-slip differential in the rear.
At a claimed 3554 pounds dry, the 2017 Audi R8 Spyder is reasonably svelte by modern standards; 80 percent of its spaceframe is made from aluminum, and the folding top weighs less than 100 pounds. The standard tires are 245/35R-19 front and 295/35R-19 in the back, with 245/30R-20 front and 305/30R-20 rear rubber optional. The electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering comes from ZF. Adaptive, magnetorheological dampers for the suspension are optional.
The 2017 Audi R8 Spyder’s top can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 31 mph. Even with the roof up, the driver and passenger have another option to capture the V-10’s aggressive soundtrack: Simply lowering the rear window, a trick that can be performed independently of the roof’s position.
Like the Audi R8 Coupe, the 2017 Audi R8 Spyder comes with Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit,” a digital gauge cluster that launched in the TT, but here is fitted in a far more upscale environment. The switches and controls are funky and angular, and we like the materials, which range from classic to futuristic. The optional Bang & Olufsen stereo features 13 speakers, including two in each seat’s headrest. The cabin is far roomier than it would seem from the outside, and the front trunk can actually hold enough luggage for a weekend getaway.
Why so little love for the Audi R8 Coupe, then?
As an everyday supercar, it excels. It is extremely proficient, refined and disciplined. It is also, as a result, terrifically safe and somewhat aloof. Consequently, those looking for heart-trembling excitement may find it lacking.
This new drop-top version, however, reinstates some of the thrill required to get the blood flowing. The fixed-roof cocoon of safety is gone, and you are more exposed – both to the elements, which can be joyous itself, and the car.
What makes the biggest difference?
Primarily, you’re infinitely more aware of the machinations of that fine naturally aspirated powertrain; the murmur of the valvetrain and whirr of the ancillaries, the piercing exhaust note, the sharp, guttural induction roar prompted every time the throttle blades shift a degree – the additional volume serves to further connect, involve and animate.
Then there’s the slick, elegant roof mechanism, and those meaner, leaner looks.
The new 2017 Audi R8 Spyder is not without its foibles. It’s predictably less stiff than the Coupe; mount a kerb to provoke a little twist and you’ll hear myriad trims shudder and scuffle. Can you feel this in the corners? Fractionally, but you’ll be too busy revelling in the experience – even at sensible speeds – to care.
Visually, the open-top treatment works well with the new R8’s dramatic proportions, but how well its blocky front end ages remains to be seen. In any event, this supercar won’t be confused with anything normal and pedestrian. Look for it at dealers this summer, at a considerable (although as-yet-undisclosed) premium over the $165,450 R8 coupe.