Audi's R8 supercar has been on sale since 2006 but numerous iterations since then have maintained its appeal and provided versions to suit more discerning tastes. The latest model combines the hardcore upgrades from the GT version combined with the seductive lines of the drop-top to create the GT Spyder, and in doing so it is the most expensive R8 to date.
Providing the basis for the GT Spyder is the existing V10 model, and in this respect it follows the template for the rest of the range. Audi uses the same aluminium space frame construction process, designed to give huge torsional strength but with the promise of lighter weight than with steel.
In the GT Spyder however the pared-back approach is taken a step further and it manages to achieve an overall weight loss of 100kg, a significant amount especially given the car's four-wheel drive configuration. The changes made to achieve this weight loss include thinner glass or polycarbonate in its place, lighter sheet metal and the use of carbon fibre for several panels have all contributed, with further savings in the cabin and with mechanical components.
Despite already being a spectacularly powerful car, Audi has sought to improve that still further by increasing the output of the 5.2-litre V10 engine by approximately six percent. Unlike the other models in the range, the GT comes only in V10 form and solely with the R tronic automated manual gearbox, although it can operate in three different modes.
Further enhancements have been made to the chassis and suspension to fully exploit the extra power, including a retuned ESP system, manually adjustable coilover suspension with a lower ride height and a quicker steering rack.
There's no doubt that Audi's recent success has been largely built on seeking out market niches, and flooding them with new products. The German firm's initial foray into supercar territory with the R8 was proof that it was possible for another model to succeed in an already crowded market. The GT series is a niche model with a motorsport connection, and the Spyder variant is that niche within the niche and will appeal to a very discerning buyer.