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.

Related Videos

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

Audi's rear-wheel drive R8 RWS is an enthusiast's dream
Audi R8 RWS

Audi is synonymous with all-wheel drive, but the German automaker is taking its flagship R8 supercar in a different (and more fun) direction.

Debuting at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Audi R8 V10 RWS is the first Audi production model of any kind with rear-wheel drive (although it has built front-wheel drive cars). The RWS (short for Rear Wheel Series) will be offered as a limited edition, and should bring a whole new dimension to the R8 driving experience. Specifically, epic power slides.

Read more
The ‘Final Fantasy XV’ R8 is a real thing, but you’ll need to come up with $470,000 first
final fantasy audi r8 star of lucis 009

After appearing in the promotional movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a special one-off edition of Audi's R8 sports car can be yours. There is only one (very expensive) problem: it will cost you $470,000 to do so.

The Audi R8 Star of Lucis, as it is called, is the result of a collaboration between the German carmaker and Square Enix, the developers of Final Fantasy. The two debuted the customized vehicle in an unveiling earlier in 2016, teasing it would soon become a reality.

Read more
The Exclusive Edition R8 is Audi USA’s first foray into laser lighting
Audi R8 V10 Plus Exclusive Edition

Laser headlights have been a long time coming in the United States. They use a fraction of the power that an LED lamp uses, yet they boast far better range and power in a smaller, more efficient package. Seems like a no brainer, right? Sadly, laser headlights have only recently started to come to our side of the pond, as auto manufacturers have had to cut through miles of regulatory red tape to get the technology approved.

The BMW i8 was the first production car to feature laser headlights in the U.S., but now one of its biggest competitors is bringing its gear stateside. Audi USA has announced that a new version of the 2017 R8 — dubbed the V10 Plus Exclusive Edition — will be its first production car to feature laser light technology. The vehicle will debut later this month at the 2016 LA Auto Show.

Read more