The advantages of a four-wheel drive system in a supercar no longer outweigh the drawbacks. Is that a fair thing to say? There was a time when dividing a very powerful engine's output between four contact patches conferred a huge benefit in terms of traction and road-holding. Given how clever tyres, suspension, torque vectoring differentials and electronic stability control systems have become in recent years, though, I'm not convinced all that extra hardware is worth its own weight and complexity anymore.
Because a lighter, simpler supercar is invariably a better one. How else could engineers at Audi Sport and Lamborghini trim dozens of kilograms out of their cars without spending anything at all on lightweight componentry, while also making those cars more enjoyable to drive?
That's my thesis, at least. In this video, I set out to determine whether or not these new rear-driven variants of conventionally four-wheel drive supercars - namely the R8 V10 RWD and Huracan Evo RWD - are actually the ones to have. Both manufacturers have toyed with rear-driven versions of their V10 supercars in the past. When I drove the Huracan LP580-2 several years ago I found it oddly unsatisfying, as though Lamborghini had played it far too safe.
Meanwhile, the R8 V10 RWS of a couple of years back was a likeable and popular enough thing for Audi to have reprised the concept, this time without limiting the production run to 999 cars. And the S, which stood for series, has made way for a much more appropriate D, which obviously stands for drive.
Four-wheel drive still has its place, of course. In certain cases that sort of car will be faster around a lap of a circuit than its two-wheel drive equivalent. In snowy regions there is no contest whatsoever and when a supercar has much more than 1000hp, as in the case of the Bugatti Chiron, only two powered wheels almost seems negligent.
But for what will primarily be a road car, driven at roads speeds, in temperate Britain and with substantially less than 1000hp, a solitary driven axle gets my vote every time. At least it does in principle - in practice, one of these two cars feels like it's been so heavily reined in (probably to protect the sacred model hierarchy) that I might well disregard everything I've written above and go for the uncorked four-wheel drive version instead...