Video: Audi R8 Spyder

Taking the roof off the R8 meant reinforcing the V10 sports car's spaceframe while still maintaining performance and efficiency

When the R8 Coupé development programme began in 2010 there were a number of key pillars that engineers were aiming for: increase power output and efficiency, reduce weight and increase torsional rigidity. 

And speaking with Roland Schala, senior project manager for the R8 about the Coupé, they were targets that were achieved. But every high-performance sports car of this nature always has a stable mate, and one where the roof is usually removed. So when engineers began developing the R8 Spyder meeting those same targets became a little more challenging.

According to DIN unladen weight without driver, the new Audi R8 Spyder tips the scales at 1,720kg – over 266kg more than the Coupé. That may seem a considerable amount but in order to maintain rigidity extra materials had to be added to the body-in-white.

As with the R8 Coupé, the Spyder combines aluminium components with those made of structurally integrated carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The aluminium spaceframe in the Spyder has a total weight of 208kg – 8kg more than the Coupé.

Audi says: “The aluminium components form a lattice that engineers have used to incorporate specific reinforcements especially into the sills, A-posts and windshield frame compared with the R8 Coupé. The front and rear ends of the Audi R8 Spyder are assembled primarily from cast aluminium nodes and extruded sections. The body’s outer skin, for example the front hatch, doors and side elements, is also made primarily of aluminium. The centre tunnel, bulkhead, B-pillars and cover of the convertible top compartments are made of CFRP. They form the ultra-strong, nearly torsion-free backbone of the occupant cell.”

The firm says that the new vehicle has nearly 50% higher torsional rigidity, and that the multimaterial approach to the spaceframe helps it attain a high figure for its lightweight index – a measure of the relationship between weight, size and rigidity.