RE: Audi R8 RWS: Driven

Tuesday 27th February

Audi R8 RWS: Driven

We've waited 11 years for a rear-wheel drive R8 - is the RWS worth it?



There's an awful lot about the Audi R8 RWS which ought to bring joy to even the most jaded enthusiast: this is now the cheapest R8 on sale, yet it's also the lightest, the rarest and, er, the most oversteery. It's being offered exclusively with a passive suspension set up and also comes as standard - in case you hadn't noticed - with one of the finest powertrains to grace a modern motor car. All for £15k less than an AMG GT C...

By and large the Rear Wheel Series variant drives just like a regular V10 car - which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it's as approachable and manageable as the all-wheel drive cars on the road, and on the other, it's just as easy to level the familiar 'slightly too good and therefore a bit aloof' accusations at.

There simply isn't the transformative dynamic change on the road that many were craving; either from the switch to rear-wheel drive or from the weight saved as a result. Perhaps the ride is more fluid and less abrupt now - it's beautifully done, in fact - but the standard 19-inch wheels and passive suspension might just as easily account for that. The same goes for the speed: 50kg is not enough to make this feel any more accelerative than a 540hp AWD version - even if that does mean it's still bordering on the alarmingly potent. The steering, moreover, is perfectly well geared and accurate enough, although removing the corrupting influence of a power hasn't suddenly made for the lucid, communicative R8 front end that true enthusiasts crave. Y'know, like the last one.


On an admittedly poor test route, with the RWS in Dynamic mode and the traction control's leash partially slackened - "to allow controlled drifts", says Audi - there are one, perhaps two, occasions where the R8 feels rear driven. This is in the merest unwinding of lock out of a corner, too - nothing more dramatic. And while Audi omnipotence may appear a churlish criticism, in a car specifically designed for purists (and collectors, interestingly), it seems a shame not to let those purists feel a bit more of what's going on beneath them. With just a bit more coming back through the pedals, wheel and seat, it would be a much more satisfying road car.

It's especially frustrating because the R8 RWS is a sublime skidder arounder when offered the chance to cut loose. Audi had a couple of cars, quite a few cones and even more Continental winter tyres (because the surface was too abrasive for summers) on the launch for some opposite lock oikery, where the car proved supreme. You can take liberties with it that you shouldn't be able to in a mid-engined, rear-drive, 540hp car - rotating it on the brakes if you want and then just waiting to pick your angle and get back on the power. The window of oversteer opportunity is huge, inviting you into bigger bungs and sillier slides, all controlled by that exquisitely sharp V10. It's poised, balanced, gorgeously adjustable and immensely enjoyable. Name a car that wouldn't be in the rarefied situation, perhaps - but it did reveal a vice-free, responsive, agile chassis. In fact the biggest hurdle was feeding that stupid flat-bottomed wheel...

There's no doubt that the RWS is an exceptionally good car (because it's a Mk2 Audi R8, after all, meaning you could put a three-cylinder diesel in it and still finish up with something desirable). Its problem is in being neither one thing nor the other. Merely introduced as a rear-wheel drive addition to the range it would have been fine - better even, had the power been reduced to nearer 500hp and the price lowered to £100k. In launching the model as a 999-car global run, however, and making heavy-duty reference of the LMS while putting silly 'because race car' stickers on it - not to mention creating Audi's first mid-engined, rear-drive car in the process - expectations are inevitably raised to the point where Neckarsulm has no real intention of meeting them. It's even more disingenuous to claim motorsport kudos and then also make a convertible.


As something like the old GT, a rear-wheel-drive R8 with weight removed and some attitude injected, the RWS could have been something really special, something to battle GT3s and GT Rs on the road as successfully as the race cars do on track. It's patently obvious that the potential is in the second generation model, so to see it unrealised in such a low volume version feels a missed chance. Speculators would still have bought it because it was rare, and the purists might have finally had the visceral, engaging, exhilarating R8 they crave.

Therefore the RWS ends up feeling not unlike the Huracan LP580-2 with which it shares a fair amount: fast, capable and enticing enough, yet lacking the focus and clarity a truly memorable supercar would've evoked. For too much of the time it feels like every other R8; which is to say very good - but why make another version that feels broadly the same when two others already exist?

As (surprisingly) the most affordable R8 on offer and the one capable of the best powerslides in the ideal scenario, it's an easy car to recommend but ultimately a tough one to emphatically champion; perhaps a more extensive UK test will reveal more, but it feels like those waiting on a truly memorable driver's R8 may continue to do so.

Browse used Audi R8's for sale on PistonHeads Classifieds


SPECIFICATION - AUDI R8 RWS

Engine: 5,204cc, V10
Transmission: 7-speed S-tronic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 540@7,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 398@6,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.7sec
Top speed: 199mph
Weight: 1,665kg (EU including 75kg driver)
MPG: 22.8
CO2: 283g/km
Price: £112,450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Bencolem

Original Poster:

441 posts

175 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
For me, it would make so much more sense if they put the engine from the S4 in this and priced it to match a base 911.

Burnham

3,450 posts

195 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
Quick, change the V8 in the spec summary to V10 before any of the complainers notice, and I'll delete this comment.

MissChief

4,918 posts

104 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Haven't they learned anything from Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini? When you make the car lighter and change it to RWD only you charge MORE, not less!

Master Bean

1,111 posts

56 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
V10 Matthew. I'll be having words on Sunday.

0a

20,301 posts

130 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
I do admit that I struggle to see the point of a RWD version of a car which seems to have a USP of being safe and 4WD, especially if it doesn't make much positive difference to how it drives!
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ducnick

881 posts

179 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Not the first mid engined rear wheel drive Audi. Just the first one since the 1930’s

sidesauce

861 posts

154 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
For me, it would make so much more sense if they put the engine from the S4 in this and priced it to match a base 911.
R8 V6 is already rumoured to be on its way, later this year... Probably with the twin turbo engine from the new RS4 though.

cholo

958 posts

171 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
For me, it would make so much more sense if they put the engine from the S4 in this and priced it to match a base 911.
Err, the TTRS might be the issue here,,,

WokkaWokka

422 posts

75 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
3 cylinder diesel? Don’t give them any ideas!

ACW

50 posts

163 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
It needs another 150kg taken off it at least. And replace the V10 with a V8... make it a GT3 rival in feel.

Vocht

1,205 posts

100 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Interesting to see PH' perspective as being generally negative as other reviews I've read have said, to date, it's the most exciting R8 to drive yet.

In regards to making it a GT3 rival, this is 'just' the standard V10 model meaning maybe Audi will release a V10+ RWS which will align it better with the GT3? However, I do agree it's a missed opportunity, especially given the limited run of cars given.






nickwilcock

1,374 posts

183 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
So the rich children are going to get their puerile 'drift' nonsense, it seems.

I agree with 0a; the USP is 4WD.

culpz

3,893 posts

48 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
0a said:
I do admit that I struggle to see the point of a RWD version of a car which seems to have a USP of being safe and 4WD, especially if it doesn't make much positive difference to how it drives!
Out of the other articles i've read, they think this car is fantastic but it does raise an eyebrow as to Audi's selling point with their performance models.

It's good to have choice but i've always been lead to believe that the 4WD system on these is still fairly rear-biased and easy to skid around.

sidesauce

861 posts

154 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
ACW said:
It needs another 150kg taken off it at least. And replace the V10 with a V8... make it a GT3 rival in feel.
So let me get this straight - you're suggesting removal of 150kgs from the car (pushing the price significantly), replacing one of the best naturally aspirated engines of any type currently on sale anywhere with a V8 as well as making a mid-engined car feel like a (flat 6) rear-engined car. Er, yeah... good luck with that.

Alternatively, just buy a GT3.

Ex Boy Racer

1,040 posts

128 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Don't really understand the reviews on these cars.
I had a series 1 V10. It was very fast, suspension was really well-judged for UK roads, it would move its back end nicely under power (without doing a Chris Harris), it sounded amazing.
I can categorically say, it was certainly not 'unexciting', numb or boring. It went like the clappers in fact.
It's like the journos have all decided that 'we'll all say R8's are boring' so that they can maintain their ability to differentiate cars on the page.
I replaced mine with a Fezza 458. It looked nicer and probably accelerated a bit quicker but on a normal UK road, in a normal driver's hands, it wouldn't have seen which way the R8 went. The R8 also sounded better (someone somewhere really ought to be honest that the Ferrari flat plane V8 is NOT a nice sound).

Jual Mass Flywheel

2,661 posts

91 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
sidesauce said:
ACW said:
It needs another 150kg taken off it at least. And replace the V10 with a V8... make it a GT3 rival in feel.
So let me get this straight - you're suggesting removal of 150kgs from the car (pushing the price significantly), replacing one of the best naturally aspirated engines of any type currently on sale anywhere with a V8 as well as making a mid-engined car feel like a (flat 6) rear-engined car. Er, yeah... good luck with that.

Alternatively, just buy a GT3.
The R8 was a V8 originally so I don't see why that's an issue although to have the kind of power to be competitive against a GT3 it would struggle without the V10. It doesn't have to feel like a GT3 to be an alternative as lots of people don't want the Porker. Losing another 150kgs might be a stretch if trying to keep the cost down. Although s mentioned above most lose weight/spec and charge more...............

gofasterrosssco

1,081 posts

172 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
For me, it would make so much more sense if they put the engine from the S4 in this and priced it to match a base 911.
They already sort of done that with the original R8 - V8 from the (R)S4 and pretty close to most of the 911's on price and usablity. Perhaps predictably, the performance on some of the current 'junior' performance models (TT-RS, RS4 / 6) means that the halo car needs at least the USP of the NA V10..

isaldiri

4,004 posts

104 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Ex Boy Racer said:
Don't really understand the reviews on these cars.
I had a series 1 V10. It was very fast, suspension was really well-judged for UK roads, it would move its back end nicely under power (without doing a Chris Harris), it sounded amazing.
I can categorically say, it was certainly not 'unexciting', numb or boring. It went like the clappers in fact.
It's like the journos have all decided that 'we'll all say R8's are boring' so that they can maintain their ability to differentiate cars on the page.
I replaced mine with a Fezza 458. It looked nicer and probably accelerated a bit quicker but on a normal UK road, in a normal driver's hands, it wouldn't have seen which way the R8 went. The R8 also sounded better (someone somewhere really ought to be honest that the Ferrari flat plane V8 is NOT a nice sound).
I'd largely agree with this. Apart from a wildly over servo assisted brake pedal the gen1 v10 I thought was a really good car, if just a tad heavy (which unfortunately it seems even without the 4wd the new rws is still quite porky).

Ruskins

188 posts

57 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
For me, it would make so much more sense if they put the engine from the S4 in this and priced it to match a base 911.
Yes! The RS3 5 cylinder makes a great noise! near 400BHP also! Stick it in a rear wheel drive R8 and strip some weight out, that would make for an interesting prospect!

Edited by Ruskins on Tuesday 27th February 11:55

Vince Davies

12 posts

10 months

Tuesday 27th February
quotequote all
Some say the red stripe on the car gives it an extra 50 BHP