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New York – Spring must be in the air because performance cars are dropping their tops all over the New York auto show floor.

There’s the Mazda MX-5 RF and the Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet. Now, comes the topless 2017 Audi R8 Spyder. All the better for its occupants to hear the car’s glorious, screaming V-10 engine.

That’s V-10 as in the same, 8,700-RPM, 540-horsepower, 5.2-liter powerplant that motivates the R8 Coupe. The V-10 is the only option in the new R8 after a V-8 was also offered previously. Unlike the segment-busting Mazda and its surprise, Targa-style hardtop, the R8 convertible plays it safe — largely maintaining the previous generation’s open-cockpit, storeable soft top. Not that that’s a bad thing.

“This engine is like listening to music,” smiled Dietmar Voggenreiter, Sales and Marketing Board Manager for Audi, as he unveiled the yellow and black show car with its distinctive, twin rows of cylinder intakes arching back from the open cockpit. Fifteen percent lighter and more chiseled than the previous generation R8 — a style common to the smaller Audi TT sports car introduced last year — the Spyder is a high-tech wonder from its 12-inch, digital virtual cockpit display to its torque-vectoring, all-wheel drive system.

“For Audi of America, the R8 started a revolution,” Audi America President Scott Keogh said of Audi’s brand-leading supercar. “It didn’t just win at the racetrack and become the car of superheroes, it truly added Audi to the luxury conversation in the U.S.”

To prove the track point, Audi unveiled the R8 Spyder on stage next to the winged R8 that won the GTD class at the Daytona 24-Hour race this February — beating out formidable competitors from Lamborghini, Porsche and the SRT Viper.

The GTD racing category is about to get even more competitive as Acura unveiled its NSX race car right across the show floor from Audi this afternoon. Sporting the same twin-turbo V6 (sans electric-assist) and bones as the production supercar, the NSX will likely go head-to-head against the R8 next year for mid-engine sports car supremacy in the sub-$200,000 class.

The R8 kicks off Audi plans for 12 all-new vehicles in the next three years, with an emphasis on the cockpit tech that has received raves from automotive media. The R8 Spyder will be produced along with the R8 Coupe outside Neckarsulm, Germany.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Reach him at hpayne@detroitnews.com. Or Twitter: @HenryEPayne

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