While this isn’t a new car per se, the Audi R8 RWS you see here is new in one key regard: rather than being fitted with the quattro four-wheel-drive system found in all previous road-going R8s – both the first-generation model and the current car – the R8 RWS comes exclusively with rear-wheel drive.
And exclusive is the name of the game: although Audi will offer the R8 RWS in coupe and convertible Spyder forms, just 999 cars will be built in total.
Short for Rear Wheel Series, the R8 RWS comes with the same 533bhp 5.2-litre mid-mounted naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) V10 engine fitted to the standard R8. While removing four-wheel drive has led to a 50kg weight loss compared to the quattro R8 (the Spyder is 40kg lighter), being rear-wheel drive means the RWS has less traction than its four-wheel-drive counterpart.
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As a result of this, the car’s 0-62mph time has risen fractionally from 3.5 to 3.7 seconds. Choose the Spyder convertible and the 0-62mph dash takes 3.8 seconds (versus 3.6 seconds in the four-wheel-drive Spyder), while the respective top speeds of the coupe and Spyder RWS are 199 and 198mph.
There are few clues to the R8 RWS’ rear-wheel-drive status from the outside, although it features a matt-black front grille and the coupe’s ‘sideblade’ is finished in gloss black on its upper portion and body-coloured below. Audi will also apply an optional red racing stripe to the R8 RWS if you want.
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Inside, leather and Alcantara suede fabric seats are standard and a plaque above the glovebox informs those who read it that the R8 RWS is “1 of 999” cars.
Audi’s engineering team has been sure to make the most of the rear-wheel-drive format: switch the driving mode selector to ‘Dynamic’ and the traction control to ‘Sport’ and “controlled” drifts should be easy to achieve.
The R8’s sister car, the Lamborghini Huracan, has been available in rear-wheel-drive LP 580-2 format for some time, but Audi has previously resisted the temptation to build a similar model – although a rear-wheel drive R8 LMS GT3 race car is offered to customers with the money and desire to go racing.
The R8 RWS will go on sale in Europe imminently and is priced from €140,000, which is €26,000 less than the R8 quattro costs in Germany. As the R8 range is available from £123,000 in the UK, that could lead to a sub-£100,000 R8.
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