Audi Australia is adding a new variant to its R8 high-performance sports car lineup. Hot on the heels of the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI quattro comes an additional variant – this time with a 4.2-litre V8 engine.

The R8 Spyder’s 4.2-litre FSI produces 316 kW and launches the open-top two-seater to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 300 km/h. The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or R tronic sequential manual gearbox and quattro permanent all-wheel drive is standard.

Available only by special customer order, the first Australian vehicles will arrive in mid-2012, with a Manufacturer List Price (MLP) of $300,400 (6-speed manual) and $316,400 (R tronic). The R8 Spyder 4.2 will feature a similarly high level of equipment that can be found on the corresponding R8 4.2 Coupe.

These include the following highlights:

  • 19-inch 5-twin spoke design alloy wheels
  • Audi magnetic ride
  • Audi parking system advance with rear view camera
  • Metallic paint
  • Xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights
  • Sport seats upholstered in Alcantara leather
  • Wind breaker

Superior power: the engine

The free-breathing 4.2 FSI is a high-performance engine such as can be found in racing. It delivers an experience that enthralls all of the senses – with spontaneous, voracious throttle response, easy revving, hefty torque, prodigious power and sonorous, voluminous ‚music‘ from the engine.

The V8 accelerates the R8 Spyder from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and on up to a top speed of 300 km/h. Both values apply for the manual transmission and for the R tronic. At Audi, dynamics also always means efficiency. The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro with the R tronic consumes on average 13.5 litres of fuel per 100 km. Fuel consumption with the manual transmission is 14.4 litres per 100 km. A recuperation system that recovers energy during braking is standard. The forced oil pump of the dry sump lubrication system features various suction and discharge stages for load- dependent operation.

The 4.2 FSI, which is also used in this form in the R8 Coupé, produces 316 kW from a displacement of 4,163 cc. The electronic rev limiter kicks in at 8,250 rpm. The V8 delivers 430 Nm of torque to the crankshaft between 4,500 and 6,000 rpm, with at least 90 percent of peak torque available between 3,500 and 7,500 rpm.

The compact V8, which is hand-assembled at the engine factory in Györ, Hungary, has the classic cylinder angle of 90 degrees and weighs just 216 kilograms.

Dynamic: the drivetrain

The Audi R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro comes with a manual six-speed transmission that works together with a compact dual-disc clutch and can be shifted extremely precisely and easily with short throws. The shift lever is made of polished aluminum, the open gate of stainless steel.

The R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro is also available with the R tronic, a highly efficient sequential six-speed transmission. Shift commands are transmitted electrically; a hydraulic system changes the gears and manages the clutch. The R tronic offers both an automatic and a manual mode, both of which allow the driver to choose between two shift programs.

In manual mode, the driver changes gears using the joystick on the centre tunnel or with the paddles on the steering wheel. At high load and engine speed, gear changes take less than a tenth of a second. The Launch Control program ensures optimal starts. It controls the engine speed and the engagement of the clutch to accelerate the open-top two-seater with the ideal wheel slip.

The quattro permanent all-wheel drive delivers the engine’s power to all four wheels. Together with the locking differential on the rear axle, it provides significantly greater traction, stability, cornering speed and precision. The four powered wheels seem to claw into the asphalt at the exit of the corner, and the driver can get back on the throttle sooner than in a car with rear-wheel drive.

Due to the mid-engine layout, the quattro all-wheel drive system in the R8 Spyder is a special design with a strong rear bias. The transmission, which is mounted behind the longitudinally installed V8, has an auxiliary drive for a cardan shaft running past the engine to the front.

A viscous coupling distributes the torque at the front axle. During normal driving, it sends roughly 15 percent of the torque to the front wheels and 85 percent to the rear wheels. If the rear wheels begin to slip, an additional 15 percent is quickly sent to the front. A locking differential at the rear axle further improves dynamics. It provides up to 25 percent lockup when accelerating and up to 45 percent when coasting. If a wheel on one of the axles should slip, it is braked by the EDS electronic locking differential.

Just 216 kilograms: the body

Equipped with a manual transmission, the R8 Spyder 4.2 FSI quattro weighs only 1,660kg (excluding driver), and just five kilograms more with the R tronic. The decisive factor for this low weight is the aluminium body, which features an Audi Space Frame (ASF) design.

The body in white consists of three wrought components: Extruded aluminum sections comprise 75 percent; vacuum-cast nodes 8 percent; and the aluminum panels that are integrated into this skeleton with friction connections make up the remaining 17 percent. The body is largely assembled by hand with the utmost precision.

The open superstructure features special reinforcements in the area of the sills, the centre tunnel, the rear bulkhead, the floor and both the A and B pillars, yet still only weighs 216 kilograms. The high stiffness of the ASF body, which includes a co-supporting engine frame of ultra-lightweight magnesium, provides the foundation for the dynamic handling, superior crash safety and high vibrational comfort of the Audi R8 Spyder. The body tops its segment in terms of lightweight quality – the relationship between weight, size and torsional stiffness.

The side panels of the open-top two-seater are made of ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre composite material (CFRP), as is the large cover over the roof compartment. They are produced using a new method called resin transfer molding (RTM). In addition to being faster and more energy-efficient than conventional production in an autoclave, RTM also yields superior surface quality. The use of carbon-fibre composite enables weight savings of up to 60 percent over conventional steel.

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