Audi R8 RWS: Same treat, different flavourThe Audi R8 RWS is the first-rear-wheel-drive Audi for quite some time, but does the lack of Quattro make it a better supercar?
[MUSIC] The Audi R8 has been with us for over a decade now. We've had V8s and V10s. Autos and manuals. Coupes and convertibles. Plusses and LMXs. And pretty much without exception, they have all been wonderful. [SOUND] This is the current standard R8 V10. And it has many things to recommend it such as that wonderful naturally aspirated engine. [SOUND] [BLANK_AUDIO] It's 5.2 liters of howling mid mountain V10, putting out over 530 brake horsepower is just glorious. The slippery silhouette still looks stunning too. The latest seven speed double clutch gearbox is great, and it's maintained that perfect balance [SOUND] feen useable yet special They even have steering feel But since they first burst onto our roads back in 2007 all R8s have had one thing in common They've all been quatro'd [NOISE] Some people think that is a bad thing. [NOISE] However, Audi has now decided to produce a limited 999 car run with rear wheel drive [UNKNOWN] called the Rear Wheel Series. [NOISE] The thing is, should you be careful what you wish for? [SOUND] [SOUND] [MUSIC] Well it turns out that yes, you should be careful what you wish for. There is a wonderful irony in the fact that we have the worst snow in the UK in a generation, and we have the first rear wheel drive Audi. In a very, very, very long time. [SOUND] The first thing to say is that this is not the same car. Look closely and you'll see that this is in [UNKNOWN] blue, rather than [UNKNOWN] blue. And those side blades are now body curved instead of carbon. but this brings up a point worth making. But you really won't be able to spot an RWS car as it passes you on the street. There are no special badges, no bodywork changes. In fact, unless you put it up on a ramp, the only thing you will find differentiated from a Quattro R8 is a small badge on the dash declaring that it is 1 of 999. But can you feel the difference from behind the wheel? Has there been a wholesale character transplant to notice the 50 kilo weight saving lack of front drive shafts? Well on the road, every day, not really. The front end feels a little lighter in its responses, but fundamentally the balance and demeanor of the car is identical. [SOUND] The biggest difference, really, Only comes once you're over the limit of grip because that's when you haven't got the stabilizing effect of the front axle to drag you out of slides. But the car is very nicely balanced. As long as you're quick enough with that initial input, which you have to be to be honest, anyway, in the [UNKNOWN] version. Then it's still A delightful car when you're over steering. As you can tell, I'm concentrating quite hard in the cold slippery conditions, and you need to. Because once that big V10 starts moving, you can really hear it's mass gain momentum. Perhaps, one area where this rear wheel drive car feels nicer It's in small angles and slip like this quickish third gear corner where you can balance the car in suspension of oversteer without any computers trying to jump in and stifle and straighten. Is it a pure experience? Well, I suppose so. More fun [SOUND] I'm not sure actually in many ways because the 4-wheel drive one is fun enough in itself. I still find it funny that the all weather super car is gone rear wheel drive and we've got literally all of the weather. [LAUGH] Thankfully this particular R8 has four crucial things up it's wheel arches. [SOUND] Winter tires. [MUSIC] If we were in the Quattro version of this on summer tires, we wouldn't be doing this. Winter tires have a different compound to them so that they work in the lower temperatures even if there's not snow on the ground they're better. They also have these [UNKNOWN] Pipes. So the tread blocks can be [UNKNOWN] a bit more and seemingly help get a bit more heat into the tire. But also [INAUDIBLE] traps snow, so when it does snow, the tire will actually use snow to grip on the snow. If you think about it, the way you make a snowball, and it all sticks together. Snow wants to stick to snow, so. That's how the tire action utilizes the surface that it's got to generate more grip and it is bizarre. After some laps [INAUDIBLE] we had originally intended to head for the hills. But with dire weather warnings that sounded like something from a disaster movie, we decided that on this occasion, discretion was the better part of valor. And we'll just have to get it back and drive it again on a sunnier day. Take it for a road trip perhaps. However, even with the various trials and tribulations of this test, one thing was very easy to conclude. [SOUND] Rear wheel drive or Quattro. [SOUND] I just love the [INAUDIBLE] to be honest. [MUSIC]