Audi won hard-earned respect with its R8 sports car – despite the initial questions about its similarities and overlap with the Lamborghini Gallardo, it’s managed to carve out its own niche among customers. The R8 is the more clinical, safer, responsible choice, believe it or not. Its 420-horsepower V8 supplemented by a 525-horsepower 5.2-liter V10 for Ferrari-challenging performance. A new GT version is coming too, with pared-down weight and sharper reflexes. All designed to appeal to the enthusiast behind the wheel.

To help broaden the R8’s microscopic appeal, Audi feels that perhaps offering a version that speaks more to those who want to be seen would be smart. Enter the R8 Spyder, a drop-top version of the well-balanced machine that’s sure to be the sales leader in places like Miami and Los Angeles. But what sacrifices were made to deliver the Spyder to showrooms?

Thankfully, not a lot. The R8 still pushes all the right buttons. From the A-pillar forward, nothing’s changed from the V10 coupe. But the back two-thirds sees significant alterations to accommodate the folding soft-top. First the signature contrasting side ‘air blades’ that direct cool air into the engine compartment and rear brakes are gone, replaced by wider, more prominent scoops. The fuel-tank filler is now repositioned to the flat rear deck. Obviously, the see-through engine cover is missing too, hiding the gorgeous V10 under vented carbon-fiber and aluminum bodywork. The alterations mean the R8 Spyder loses some of the drama afforded the coupe. Ironic given its target audience...

Saw one yesterday on the road...really striking.