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2011 Audi R8 Spyder First Impressions

The Audi R8 may have gone topless, but it proves just as exotic while delivering the same exhilarating performance. Still, as far as first impressions go, I have to admit that the ''Wow'' factor isn't quite as strong now. And I'm not just talking from an innocent bystander point of view; at the AJAC's TestFest, taking the R8 Spyder for a spin felt a lot less compelling for many journalists on hand.

This is no ordinary car, mind you, and the German's greatness isn't to be questioned.

The exterior changes are subtle and the overall design probably looks a bit less extreme than the coupe's. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/

Losing more than just a top
As is often the case, the Spyder name suggests a convertible. In this case, the exterior changes are subtle and the overall design probably looks a bit less extreme than the coupe's. In fact, you won't even see the striking side blades that so powerfully define the profile of the original. It's also a shame that the functional soft top does not fit in as smoothly with the car's beautiful lines.

Okay, maybe I'm getting too harsh. After all, the R8 Spyder really is an exceptional machine – no doubt about it. The interior hasn't changed one iota, so expect the same surprising level of comfort, flawless driving position and world-class fit and finish. In other words, despite losing some cachet on the outside, life inside this Audi feels just as good.

The clever mechanism that operates the soft top (at the touch of a button) takes just a few seconds to complete its action. You can lower the rear and side windows if you still want to enjoy the wind without messing up your fresh new haircut.

A dreamy powerplant
Under the hood of this technological marvel sits arguably the best car engine on the market, namely a 5.2-litre FSI V10 that produces a thundering 525 horsepower along with 490 lb-ft of torque. If you don't care about numbers, that's fine, but know that your precious haircut stands no chance once you go full throttle.

That being said, the beauty of this engine lies in its progressiveness. Unlike some of the more radical competitors (hello Porsche 911 Turbo S!), power is delivered firmly yet steadily. There is no sudden explosion, just absolute control under acceleration.

Dropping the top turns the experience into a unique open-air concert. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert/