In a somewhat unexpected turn, Audi has introduced a rear-drive version of their ten-cylinder mid-engine supercar as a permanent fixture in the R8 range. Absent the company’s signature all-wheel drive system, the car is predictably lighter and but is now saddled with some predictable disadvantages.
From now on, a V10 RWD variant will be offered alongside the existing spread, which is currently comprised of the entry-level R8 as well as the better specified and more powerful R8 Performance in both Coupe and open-top Spyder body styles.
In 2018, Audi rolled out the R8 RWS, the first time the Ingolstadt-based automaker gave the world a taste of a non-Quattro supercar carrying their four ring badge. But while that was a limited edition capped at a hair under 1,000 examples, all sufficiently deep-pocketed are welcome to purchase the new R8 RWD.
“We launched a limited series of the Audi R8 V10 RWS at the beginning of 2018. Its rear-wheel drive derived from the R8-LMS racing car, and the special dynamics sparked our customers’ enthusiasm right away. Now it will become part of the R8 family as a separate model, the R8 V10 RWD. And we are giving it the same sharp look with which we designed the new R8 Quattro models. - Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.
Compared with the RWS, this new two-wheel driven R8 is based on the recently facelifted entry-level version and gains the updated exterior. Most notably, Audi’s Singleframe grille is now borderless as well as being more squat in shape, accompanied by an assortment of squared-off auxiliary air inlets and slats in the name of visual aggression.
Under its bonnet lives the naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 in its less powerful 397kW/540Nm tune - identical to the RWS - and paired exclusively to a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, aided by a mechanical locking differential.
Due to all tractive forces generated are being channeled to the rear wheels, the Quattro-equipped R8 reaches 100km/h from rest 0.3 seconds quicker than the RWD’s quoted 3.7 seconds. Top speed, however, still stands at 320km/h for the Coupe. In Spyder form, meanwhile, those same measurements yield 3.8 seconds and 318km/h.
The omission of the propeller shaft, multi-plate clutch pack, and front axle differential, the combined weight loss of the Quattro system (up to 65kg) does alter the R8’s weight distribution with 60 percent now resting over the rear axle and the remaining 40 going up front.
At a starting price of 144,000 Euros, Audi is slotting the R8 RWD just under the entry-level all-wheel drive V10, a positioning scheme that’s sure to be mirrored in other other launch markets to follow. Speaking of which, Audi Australia has confirmed a launch window of mid-2020 alongside the rest of the refreshed R8 range.