It's hard to go unnoticed in Audi's R8, something that has become abundantly clear to us in the short time a Mugello blue coupe has been in our Four Seasons fleet. But what if you want onlookers to notice who's in the R8 as well?
For that, it looks like Audi's Spaceship-meets-Gallardo will need to lose its top. Judging by these spy shots, the convertible R8 will feature a folding soft top and some additional exterior modifications.
The first thing we notice on this flat-black prototype is the absence of the R8 coupe's so-called side blades. Available in contrasting colors and optional carbon fiber on the hardtop, the panels have given way to larger rear intakes that now begin well aft of the doors. Both the front and rear fascias have been revised and feature fewer slats in their air apertures - those below the headlights feature two, and those under the taillights have three - which is in line with the semi-bonkers R8 TDI concept that Audi showed this year. The exhaust note will emanate from dual ovoid outlets instead of the quad tips found on the coupe. All of these changes could also carry over to the coupe as part of a mid-cycle refresh
Though the engine is mounted just behind the occupants in the current fixed-roof R8, the sound doesn't permeate the firewall as much as we'd like. This droptop version should cure that, sending the mighty V-8's song in every direction. We just hope the reworked engine cover doesn't muffle the symphony too much.
Rearward visibility will likely be improved in top-up configuration, since the rear window will be much further forward. With the top down, any blind spots should be eliminated, allowing the occupants to see out as well as be seen.
Since this model hasn't been officially confirmed, we don't yet know what the model designator will be. What it could be called: Cabriolet, Roadster, or Convertible. Audi has historically used the Cabriolet moniker for its four-place droptops (A4) and Roadster for the two seaters (TT) so, following that logic, Roadster is the most likely choice. What it probably won't be called: Targa, Spider/Spyder. There are two other brands within Audi's extended family that have already laid claim to these badges - Porsche with the 911 Targa, and Lamborghini with the Gallardo and Murciélago Spyder. It's not likely that Porsche will loosen its reins on the Targa name, and it's also unlikely that Audi would steal the Gallardo's Spyder name since the R8 already borrows heavily enough from that car.
We expect this near-production R8 model will be introduced sometime in the fall as a 2010 model. And if Audi wants to keep the flat-black paint job on this droptop, we wouldn't mind being seen in it.