A car built for Iron Man. Yep, that was some pretty good product placement in the summer blockbuster "Iron Man 2." But still, the new 2011 Audi R8 Spyder is just such a cool car that even Iron Man himself feels worthy to be behind the wheel. Based off the highly successful Audi R8 coupe, the R8 Spyder is everything R8 lovers expect it to be and so much more. Its 5.2 liter V10 delivers 510 horsepower at about 8,000 rpm and will go from zero to 62 mph in a blazing 3.7 seconds.
Just keep your foot on the gas and in only 12.7 seconds, you'll find yourself hitting 124 mph. Top speed has been recorded to be 195 mph. The car also features Audi's wonderful magnetic ride adaptive damping system with either Sport or Normal driving modes. Buyers have a choice between two transmissions; a traditional six-speed manual or the R-tronic automated manual gearbox. Really? A manual transmission is still offered today? Even in the new Ferrari 458 Italia (or any new Ferrari), the manual transmission is considered, in the words of a Ferrari rep: "too slow and outdated."
The Lamborghini Gallardo is no longer offered with a manual, the only exception being the very limited - 250 total - Valentino Balboni edition. So what's up with this mass extinction of the manual transmission? Quite simply, the dual-clutch transmission. Audi claims that 55 percent of R8 buyers go for the six-speed over the R-tronic. So there's still hope. Another difference between the Spyder and coupe is the absence of the trademark aluminum "side blades." At first a little controversial, those side blades have almost become the R8's signature piece. They're bold, distinctive, and just plain cool.
The Spyder is a great looking car, but the overall R8 effect is not quite the same without those blades. Other styling differences are additional air intakes behind the seats along with the addition of safety roll bars, and a change in the fuel filler cap placement due to the absence of rear pillars. Underneath, Audi has strengthened the chassis to make up for the lack of rigidity that happens when the roof is removed. Speaking of removing roofs, the fully automated to can be lowered or raised in just 19 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. In other words, once you hit that 62 mph mark, don't do anything stupid.
Inside, you'll find everything there is to love about Audi interiors. I don't think it's possible at this point for Audi to produce anything less than perfection in this department. Forget Toyota, Honda, etc. Audi is the undisputed king for interior quality. The entire space is covered with a combination of carbon fiber and leather. Ah yes, and let's not forget the 19-speaker, 465-watt Bang and Olufsen sound system. So you're all set to drive like Iron Man and become the envy of gear heads everywhere. Be prepared for the base price of $161,000. Add another $9,000 to the tab if you opt for the R-tronic.
The Audi R8 Spyder grants you membership into a exclusive world club of rich industrialists and superheroes. When you think about it that way, $161k doesn't sound so bad.