Rear-drive R8 makes the transition from limited edition to main
For over ten years, Audi’s mould-breaking R8 has offered high
performance and quattro all-wheel drive in mid-engined form. That’s still the
case, but now you can have the iconic R8 lines and V10 engine without the
quattro. The R8 RWS limited edition of 2018 was the first-ever rear-drive R8,
and now Audi has brought rear-drive into the main range with the R8 V10 RWD,
available in Coupé and open-top Spider form. Meanwhile, GT race series
privateer drivers will be offered the track-only R8 LMS GT4, again rear-drive
Like the R8 V10 quattro on which it’s closely based, the R8 V10 RWD features a broader and flatter front grille than the preceding model, along with wider air inlets, front splitter and rear air outlet. Only the side blades differ from the R8 quattro models; on the RWD, the top blade is in mythos black, while the bottom blade is painted in body colour. Inside, the R8’s sumptuous and ergonomic cockpit in leather and Alcantara features a special inset RWD logo on the dashboard.
The R8 V10 RWD is powered by a 5.2-litre FSI V10 engine and in the RWD model it produces 540 metric horsepower and 540Nm of torque. This is slightly less than the R8 quattro and quattro performance models, but the 0-62mph time is still a blisteringly fast 3.7 seconds (3.8 seconds for the Spider) with a top speed of 198mph. For this model’s audience, the power figures will be irrelevant compared with the appeal of a pure rear-drive layout, together with the agility bonus that comes with a 60kg reduction in overall weight. Drive goes to the rear wheels via a seven-speed S tronic gearbox and mechanical locking rear axle. An intelligent stabilisation control system allows the driver to practice drift control – in a track environment, we’d suggest.
The R8 RWD offers driver and passenger the same ‘monoposto’ inspired cockpit environment as its stablemates, including the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit driver display and multifunction sports steering wheel. The MMI Touch infotainment system comes as standard and includes two SD card readers, the Audi Music Interface (AMI), a DVD drive, aux-in port and Bluetooth interface. The optional Audi Connect module includes Wi-Fi hotspot, media streaming and Google Earth navigation.
The R8 V10 RWD is aimed at a niche audience of drivers who are prepared to sacrifice outright traction for the purity of rear-drive handling. No sacrifices are called for in safety, as it still comes with the full array of Audi safety and driver assistance systems as well as the immensely strong Audi Space Frame architecture.
Verdict: If you want a supercar with year-round all-weather capability the R8 quattro models meet the brief. They’re also more powerful, and thanks to the traction of all-wheel drive, accelerate faster. But for some, response, feel and feedback are more important than Top Trumps figures. The Audi R8 V10 RWD will appeal to drivers who are confident in their abilities and desire a high-performance rear-drive sports car for road and track-day use.