Skip to main content

Audi’s tail-wagging rear-wheel-drive R8 will play an encore in 2020

Audi has transformed the limited-edition R8 RWS it unveiled in 2017 into a regular production model. The rear-wheel-drive, V10-powered supercar has only been announced for the European market, but Digital Trends learned from the German company that seeing it next to the all-wheel-drive model in American showrooms isn’t out of the question.

Years of endless rumors and speculation about an entry-level R8 end here. The model won’t get a V8, and it’s certainly not about to receive a humble V6. Enthusiasts who want a new R8 without spending $170,000 now have access to the V10 RWD model. It’s closely related to the aforementioned RWS that Audi made 999 units of, meaning power comes from a detuned version of the regular R8’s naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V10 engine. It makes 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. To add contrast, the same 10-cylinder delivers 610 hp and 428 lb-ft. in the all-wheel-drive model.

Less power means less fun, right? Not here. Going from all- to rear-wheel drive means Audi sent the driveshaft and the front differential it’s linked to back to the parts bin, saving 143 pounds. The rear-wheel-drive coupe weighs 3,516 pounds, while the Spyder variant tips the scale at 3,737 pounds. And, engineers programmed the electronic stability control system to allow controlled drifting when sport mode is engaged, so (hopefully) on a race track. The software knows that, if the car gets sideways, it’s because the driver is trying to have fun, and it allows high-speed shenanigans without intervening.

The easiest way to tell the rear-wheel-drive model apart from the all-wheel-drive car might be to look under it and see if the front wheels are connected to the powertrain. The two cars look almost identical, with one significant (but low-key) exception. The top part of the RWD’s side blade (the air scoop behind each door) is painted black, while it’s body-colored on the all-wheel-drive model. That’s it, unless you step inside and look for the model-specific emblem on the dashboard.

Made largely by hand, the Audi R8 V10 RWD will arrive in European showrooms in 2020. Pricing starts at 144,000 euros for the coupe, and 157,000 euros for the convertible, figures that represent about $159,000 and $173,000, respectively. American availability hasn’t been announced yet, but there’s a good chance of seeing the car here.

“We haven’t confirmed it yet for the U.S. but we are hopeful it will come to our market as well,” an Audi spokesperson told Digital Trends. We’ll update you on Audi’s first series-produced rear-wheel-drive car when we learn more.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
Mercedes-Benz G580 vs Rivian R2: Is the much cheaper Rivian actually better?
2025 Mercedes-Benz G580 from three quarter view.

Mercedes-Benz has finally taken the wraps off of the new "Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology." Yeah, it's a mouthful, but it's basically a new electric G-Wagon. It looks a lot like the G-Wagon you know and love, but with an electric powertrain and a battery. It's not the only electric SUV out there, however, and there are some great ones -- like the Rivian R2.

Both the Mercedes G580 and the Rivian R2 have a lot going for them, but they also approach the electric SUV slightly differently. Is one better than the other? I put the two head-to-head to find out.
Design
The approach that the two vehicles take to design is quite different -- and you might like one better than the other.

Read more
Mercedes-Benz G580 vs GMC Hummer EV: rugged EVs face off
2025 Mercedes-Benz G580 from three quarter view.

There's finally an electric G-Wagon. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new vehicle, officially called the Mercedes-Benz G580 with EQ Technology, after months of rumors and camouflaged sightings. But it's not the only rugged electric vehicle out there. In fact, there are quite a few EVs that could be considered rugged -- like the Rivian R1S, the Rivian R2, and, of course, the Hummer EV.

But how do the Mercedes-Benz G580 and GMC Hummer EV compare? Is one a better rugged electric vehicle than the other? Here's a look at the two vehicles, head to head.
Design
If you love the look of recent-generation G-Wagons, you'll love the look of the new G580. To be sure, it isn't exactly the same as other recent models, but it's certainly close, with a squared-off design and sharp corners. It keeps the metallic ladder frame panels and the flat roofline, and it's available in a variety of colors.

Read more
The Kia EV3 could be the cheap electric SUV we’ve been waiting for
White Kia EV3

The Kia EV9 was already one of the cheapest ways to get an electric SUV, but now the company is taking things to the next level. After teasing the Kia EV3 last year, the car is now official.

The EV3 is built to be a slightly smaller, cheaper version of the EV9 -- following the path of the Rivian R2, which arrived after the Rivian R1S. It's certainly not as technologically advanced as the EV9, but it still looks unmistakably like a modern Kia, and is clearly a sibling of the larger SUV. On the outside, the vehicle has the same split taillights and very similar Tiger Face front. But it is quite a bit smaller. The vehicle will be available in nine finishes -- however only "Aventurine Green" and "Terracotta" are being announced right now.

Read more