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From a design standpoint, convertible versions of popular coupes are often just that: the identical car but with a retractable roof. The same cannot be said of the 2011 Audi R8 Spyder V10. Available in the United States this fall—three years after the launch of the standard R8—the Spyder is immediately distinguishable from the coupe thanks to the absence of muttonchop-style side-blade air intakes (a signature design feature on the original) and the presence of two rakish aluminum-optic cooling ducts for the engine.

The engine itself is Audi’s high-revving 5.2-liter V-10 motor, which helps push the Spyder to 60 mph in about four seconds. Indeed, Audi made few performance compromises for the convertible version, limiting weight gain to less than 15 pounds despite structurally reinforcing the original R8’s aluminum-and-carbon-fiber space frame.

Standard on the R8 Spyder V10, which is expected to cost $160,000, are signature Audi features including quattro all-wheel drive and LED lights. The convertible also comes with a microphone mounted in the driver’s seat belt, allowing motorists to carry on a Bluetooth-linked phone conversation while attempting to reach the car’s 196 mph top speed.


Audi, www.audiusa.com


Cars and motorcycle in this section shot on location at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (www.ojairesort.com) in Ojai, Calif.

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