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Rear-drive R8 returns as 'RWD' series model

Audi's V10 supercar sheds 65kg and gets new drift mode - plus a lower starting price

By Sam Sheehan / Thursday, November 7, 2019

Audi has finally tended to the needs of oversteer enthusiasts everywhere, returning the rear-wheel drive version of its R8 to production. Even better, it's here without a limit on build numbers this time around, meaning the appropriately named R8 RWD ought to be a whole lot more accessible than the old special-edition RWS. Lovers of instantaneous throttle adjustability, 540hp V10s and rear-wheel power rejoice.

In fact, Audi has gone a step further by giving its 5.2-litre midship R8 RWD a new, less intrusive stability control system, one said to allow for "controlled drifting". That comes in addition to the natural benefits of a two-wheel drive car, including the shedding of 65kg from the front axle and a sweet 40:60 weight distribution. The Spyder isn't far off that, either, with 55kg lost from its nose, meaning both variants ought to offer the sort of improvement to steering response that made the R8 RWS such a hero.

When both body styles launch together in Europe at the start of 2020, they'll do so with a few subtle aesthetic changes to signal their rear-drive status. There's a lightly tweaked grille, broader front splitter and raised twin exhaust tailpipes, while the Audi badges are black and there are matching 19-inch forged wheels as standard (20s remain an option). Although we suspect the oversteer will provide the best evidence that this is indeed an R8 RWD and not the glued-down Quattro.

Despite the enhanced exoticness of this 'purer' rear-drive format, Audi has refrained from cashing in on demand, maintaining that the R8 RWD has a starting price which undercuts that of the regular Quattro model. In Germany, this will see it start from €144,000 for the coupe and €157,000 for the Spyder, presently equivalent to £124k and £135k respectively. Still, even though production is now unlimited, something tells us you shouldn't hang about if you want one in good time.


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