Yes, the top. Audi engineers have proclaimed that the R8 coupe is so well sealed and insulated that the engine note is fairly muted, which we experienced with just a smidgen of disappointment during our first go in the original R8 4.2. Audi claims the Spyder’s convertible top has been designed to offer a nearly identical acoustic experience as you’d have driving the hardtopthat is to say, mostly silent. Again, hard to say; we put the top down and it never came back up again.

Yeah, that topyou probably aren’t going to need it unless it’s pouring rain. If it’s not, or you know, raining flaming hammers, the top needs to be down. Just an opinion. Because if the day is hot and the sun intense, the leather has been treated with special pigments that help cool its surface by upwards of 60 degrees, even in direct sunlight.

And if it is pouring rain and you’re forced to go top-up, there’s a power rear window integrated into the rear bulkhead that you can lower independently of the roof, so you can still hear the engine. We sort of liked that touch.

The tiny microphones embedded in the driver’s seat belt shoulder strap are also pretty neat. They’re intended to pick up your voice when using your Bluetooth-enabled mobile so you can have a clear conversationwith the top down, driving at speed. At 190 mph, say.

The only real downside we find with this car, and this complaint comes up a lot with day-to-day working stiffs like us, is the price. The R8 Spyder 5.2 starts at $161,000 with a manual, $168,000 if you want R tronic. But then again, compare it to a competitor within the Volkswagen Groupthe Lamborghini Gallardo Spyderand the R8 5.2 starts to look like a pretty good deal.

If you still aren’t convinced, then the Audi guys were right. You do need to drive the car to really get it.

2011 Audi R8 Spyder 5.2

Longitudinal mid engine, all-wheel drive

5.2-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve

Six-speed manual; optional
R tronic automated manual

Double triangular wishbones front and rear, Audi Magnetic Ride active damping

Eight-piston calipers (f), four-piston calipers (r), ventilated and perforated rotors, ESP; optional carbon-ceramic rotors

Length/Width/Height (in.): 174.6/75.0/48.0
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3,792 lb
MSRP: $161,000

Peak Power: 525 hp @ 8000 rpm
Peak Torque: 361 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.1 sec.
Top Speed: 194 mph

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