You could call it a thrilling experience driving an Audi R8 V10, but what would be the next step in creating an even better experience? It takes just one feature to make a R8 V10 even better: A droppable soft top and a roll-down rear window. Why? We are going to tell you why.

Introduced at the IAA Motor Show in 2009, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder hit the streets around the globe in the following months. At launch only a V10 version was made available, but rumors suggested that Audi planned a V8 powertrain. In June the Germans officially placed their 4.2 FSI V8 engine into the engine compartment of the Spyder. The V8 engine produces 430hp compared to 525hp packed in the Italian-bequeathed V10 version.

The Spyder experience is a mix between acceleration, precise steering, huge grip and the appropriate looks – also available in the Coupé – in combination with the open-top feeling of the wind in your hair. The success of it all would immediately be understood by true spyder enthusiasts. However, it’s well known that chopping the roof off a sports car usually includes a list of sacrifices made in exchange for open-sky motoring. So simply ask yourself the question; Is this the case with the 2011 Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 V10 FSI Quattro?

Road Test Audi R8 V10 Spyder 01

A direct-injection 5.2 liter naturally aspirated V10 engine is available at your disposal behind the two seats and underneath the tiny engine cover. It builds most of its power above 4,500rpm and tops out at 525 horsepower at 8,000rpm and 391lb-ft of torque at 6,500rpm. The maximum top speed is set at 303km/h (194mph), a little less than the Coupé. 100km/h (62mph) passes by in a eye-watering 4.1 seconds.

Like the Coupé the available transmissions are a six-speed manual setup or a six-speed R tronic automated manual transmission. Our test car had the second setup, which can easily be described as really smooth while cruising, but rather baulky at full throttle or for city driving. Pulling away with a decent amount of throttle is never smooth and the paddles on the steering wheel are quite small compared to the size of the wheel. You could lack control during aggressive maneuvers.

All convertible penalties including reduced performance, increased weight, a floppier chassis and smaller luggage space are directly linked to the setup of the R8 V10 Spyder, but overall you never have the feeling it is a big deal. The lost torsional rigidity of the bodywork is solved by adding thicker A- and B-pillars together with added braces and panels in the floor. The increase of weight is kept minimal by using lightweight materials like magnesium and composites. Only 100kg are added in comparison to the Coupé. Quite an achievement!

Road Test Audi R8 V10 Spyder 02

The fabric roof completes its action in 19 seconds at speeds of up to 50km/h (31mph) and it works at temperatures down to five degrees. With the roof sealed, the cabin is quiet like the Coupé. With the roof down the ride is excellent, although the wind buffeting can be quiet irritating for taller people. The soundtrack of the V10 behind you compensates for that though. The growling of the ten cylinders is addictive, so much so that you will always want to drive open-top, shift back and let it scream all the way to its 8,700 maximum rpm.

If the rain sets in you close the roof, and select a second center console-mounted switch lowering a glass heated rear window that measures just a few inches in height. With this window tucked away into the bodywork, the V10’s exhaust system comes to life even-tough the cabin is sealed with a roof. GTspirit tip: Keep this rear window open at all times while driving!

The R8 V10 gives you the ability to cut corners with a delicious precision. The weight distribution tells you exactly what’s going on and through tighter corners it’s fast-geared enough to enable easy flick-flacks of the rear. Body roll is nonexistent, yet the two-way adjustable ride (standard and sport) is never punishing. It is such an easy car to drive and one of the greatest handling cars ever built.

The test vehicle was packed with the finest setup you can have. It includes the build-in Bluetooth car kit with seatbelt-mounted microphones, LED headlamps all around and in-car entertainment consisting of a personal navigation system and a crystal-clear, 19-speaker, 465-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo system. The interior is wonderfully made, in true Audi style. But does it feel special enough? Not really, but the build quality is of high standard. Finally, the carbon fiber trim on our test car is something we would not choose from the option list instead we would go for the parking system with rear view camera.

The Audi R8 V10 Spyder is mind-bogglingly fast, but on the other hand the drive has mixed virtues. The R8’s styling and V10 powertrain suggests the ultimate racer at any given time of the day, but the Spyder’s feeling that we were left with was one of an ultimate sports car for the gentlemen driver. Fast, easy to drive, full of fun and prowess, but never a true racer capable of giving you the ultimate thrill of another brand from Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy we will be able to share with you in their version of a four-wheel drive convertible. Leaving the Italians out of the equation, we are left with one memory after our test; what a great car the R8 V10 Spyder is.

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