Jeff Thisted:  Following the successful introduction of its race-inspired R8 coupe back in 2006, Audi has unleashed a convertible Spyder version to rave reviews. Now in its second year, the 2012 Audi R8 Spyder continues to steal the show.

Tracy Metro:  And it comes in two versions. You can get the R8 in a real peppy 430-horsepower 4.2-liter V8, or go for the 525-horsepower 5.2-liter V10. Either way, the R8 is a sweet ride, due in part to the fact that the engine is located ahead of the rear axle, giving the car its near ideal weight distribution.

Jeff:  That?s right, Tracy, and the body and chassis are proven in competition. Let me tell you why. It?s got aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium all joined together to provide a light weight, strength and rigidity.

Tracy:  Which of course is really important in a convertible. When you have a top down on a convertible, I know you?ve been in them just like I have, there?s a noticeable shake when you go over bumps or rough roads, because it?s lacking a roofline that gives the car rigidity. Well, that is not the case right here with the R8.

Jeff:  Not at all. With the top up, this Spyder looks almost identical to the coupe.  And it?s triple insulated to provide a nice and quiet interior. Press a button, and the top retracts under a hard tonneau cover to maintain proper airflow at high speeds.

Tracy:  The arched instrument panel visor helps with visibility during bright daylight, kind of like what we have right now, and the extra-large speedometer and tach can be read real quickly at a glance. And this right here is the information center that provides page-by-page info on all systems in the car.

Jeff:  It?s true. Like we have on this R8, you can opt for Audi?s Parking System Plus, which has a built-in rear-view camera that I like, or a Bang and Olufsen premium sound system with 12 speakers and 465 watts of digitally amplified power.

Tracy:  Some standard features include Bluetooth communication with a seatbelt microphone, Sirius XM satellite radio and 10-way power adjusted heated sport seats.

Jeff:  The leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel is flat on the bottom, traditional Audi racing style. And the leather seats give lots of support?really nice when you go around those corners.

This is a pretty terrific-handling sports car, Trace.

Tracy:  And you know what? Audi started with their famous Quattro all-wheel drive with electronic stability control. To that they added something that I think is kind of cool. It?s a driver-controlled, magnetic fluid suspension adjuster, and to that they added competition-bred aluminum double-wishbone front and rear suspensions.

Everything about this R8 is super world class, and the braking system definitely does not disappoint.

Jeff:  All right, Tracy, how much does this bad boy cost?

Tracy:  You know what, Jeff, I am not gonna lie, it is not cheap. V8, $127,700. V10, $162,700. But if you just so happen to have just over $170,000, why not go for the R tronic six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters?

Jeff:  And although this thing could easily qualify as an exotic, it?s still priced thousands below what you?ll find at Lamborghini or Ferrari.

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