Audi has long driven the popularity of all-wheel drive in mainstream cars and its R8 has done the same with supercars. Which is why it may be a bit jarring for some to hear that the Four Rings has just announced the R8 V10 RWS Rear Wheel Series. That's right, Audi's midengined hero car is going two-wheel drive.
At the German automaker's Frankfurt Motor Show press conference, it confirmed that just 999 Coupe and Spyder RWS models will be offered worldwide, which means most R8 models you see on the street will continue to be AWD. About a third of that total is expected to be available in North America, and although pricing has not yet been announced, the RWS should be the least expensive R8 you can buy when it goes on sale.
According to Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport, "The R8 V10 RWS is made for purists," and the specs back him up: The Coupe weighs 110 pounds less than the AWD V10, thanks to losing components like the propshaft, clutch and center differential (the droptop Spyder loses 88 pounds). What's more, the suspension and handling electronics have been tweaked specifically for this model, in part to increase its driftability.
The naturally aspirated 5.2-liter 10-cylinder engine continues to produce 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-62 mph time of as little as 3.7 seconds (the heavier Spyder does the deed in 3.8).
You'll be able to spot an Audi R8 RWS on the street thanks to its matte-black grilles in the front and rear, and a gloss-black upper side blade (on Coupe models) with the lower blade finished in body color. An unusual side-swapping red stripe kit is also available to further set the design apart.
Inside, sport leather seats clad in Alcantara are standard (bucket seats are optional) and, as is typical of any special edition, there's a serialized plaque on the dash.
Audi has called this model the "Rear Wheel Series," which has fueled some speculation that this won't be the last Audi Sport model to offer a rear-wheel drive variant. At present, there's no proof that any such vehicles are in development.