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The Audi R8 gets rear-wheel drive again

The R8 RWD debuts alongside the R8 LMS GT4 race car.

Audi R8 RWD
Two fewer driven wheels makes for a much more playful supercar.

The rear-wheel-drive Audi R8 RWS was one of the best cars I drove in 2018. So I'm thrilled to report that Audi will be offering another rear-drive R8, based on the face-lifted 2020 model. And unlike last year's R8 RWS, this one won't be a limited-production offering.

Revealed Wednesday, the 2020 R8 V10 RWD will be offered in both Coupe and Spyder body styles, with the same visual tweaks as the all-wheel-drive models. The most obvious way to tell an RWD version apart from other R8s? A two-tone side blade. The top portion will be covered in gloss black, while the bottom will match the rest of the vehicle's body -- just like on the R8 RWS. Inside, an RWD badge is found on the dash, across from the passenger seat.

The RWD is powered by the same naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10 as other R8s, but it's the least powerful car in the lineup. Audi says the R8 RWD produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, which is the same as the 2018 R8 RWS, but slightly less than the updated 2020 model. Of course, keep in mind that the removal of all-wheel drive will make the R8 RWD lighter than its Quattro-driven counterparts. Audi says the RWD Coupe is 143 pounds lighter than a comparable AWD Coupe, and the RWD Spyder drops 121 pounds versus its heavier counterpart.

You know what else uses rear-wheel drive? The Audi R8 LMS GT4 race car.


Audi says the R8 RWD's electronic stability control will allow "controlled drifting," which is something I very much would like to test. The RWD rolls on black, 19-inch wheels wrapped in 245/35-series front and 295/35-series rear tires. Larger 20-inch wheels and more aggressive tires are available as an option.

The new R8 RWD will go on sale in Europe at the beginning of 2020. As for US availability, an Audi representative told Roadshow that's "still not decided" and that there "won't be an answer for a few months." Consider my fingers (and toes) crossed for this one.

But wait, there's more. In addition to the R8 RWD, Audi revealed the new R8 LMS GT4 customer race car on Wednesday. The company says the racer shares roughly 60% of its parts with the road-legal R8. The 5.2-liter V10 delivers 495 hp in this application, and Audi says the antilock braking and traction control systems can be "precisely adjusted" by the race teams. Sounds like a hoot.

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