In addition to its stunning E-Tron electric-powered concept, Audi used Frankfurt to show off a vehicle far closer to production, the new R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro. This open-air version of the automaker's brilliant R8 supercoupe comes standard with the same powertrain as the top-line 5.2 FSI: a Lamborghini-derived 5.2-liter/525-horsepower V-10 and six-speed transmission (standard manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch R-Tronic) driving all four wheels through Audi's renowned Quattro system. That combination is sufficient to send this sleek mid-engine two-seater from 0-62 mph in coupe-equaling 4.1 seconds and on to a top end of 195 mph. The R8 Spyder's chassis also offers all of the 5.2 FSI Coupe's handling prowess, starting with its standard magnetic ride control damping system. However, the Spyder's variation on the Audi aluminum spaceframe theme did receive extensive structural reinforcing to ensure that all of the car's suspension bits remain properly aligned even under maximum cornering loads.
Like all of Audi's cabrio models, the R8 Spyder is fitted with a lightweight cloth top. Electro-hydraulically activated, it can be raised or lowered in 19 seconds. When retracted, the top folds neatly away into a Z-form package that sits above the engine compartment and beneath a power-actuated carbon-fiber hard tonneau panel. The R8 Spyder also boasts a host of other unique styling elements. It dispenses with the Coupe's prominent contrasting side blades but gains a pair of arched cowls that extend all the way back to the rear spoiler lip and feature integrated air vents. Inside, the Spyder's deeply-contoured sport buckets are covered in leather treated with a special UV-rejecting chemical that helps lower their surface temperatures by some 20 degrees. European sales of the R8 Spyder 5.2 FSI Quattro are set to start in the spring. The first U.S cars are due to arrive here next summer as 2011 models, and start somewhere beyond the $150,000 mark.