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Rear-drive returns to Audi R8 – permanently

Audi R8 V10 RWD to join mainstream range next year, should cost less than $300,000

7 Nov 2019

UPDATED: 07/11/2019


AUDI has committed to the permanent inclusion of a rear-wheel-drive variant in its R8 supercar range, following up last year’s limited run of 999 R8 RWS special-editions with the series-produced R8 V10 RWD that will join the facelifted coupe and convertible range in the middle of next year.


Judging by pricing of Australia’s allocation of 40 RWS specials that were $55,000 less expensive than the all-wheel-drive quattro equivalent, the new entry-level R8 is likely to come in at less than $300,000 plus on-road costs.


The R8 V10 RWD misses out on power and torque upgrades applied to the facelifted Quattro all-wheel-drive variant, with outputs of the 5.2-litre naturally aspirated V10 remaining at 397kW and 540Nm matching the RWS (a difference of 22kW and 10Nm compared with the V10 Quattro).


Despite the removal of all-wheel-drive system components saving around 65kg of weight, the R8 V10 RWD’s reduced engine outputs and traction disadvantage mean three-tenths of a second are added to its 0-100km/h dash, resulting in 3.7 seconds for the coupe, again matching the RWS.


No performance figures for the R8 V10 RWD Spyder have been announced – the weight saving is 10kg less than that of the coupe – but R8 drop-tops are typically a tenth off the pace of their coupe equivalent.


The V10 Performance Quattro will replace the V10 Plus Quattro at top of the facelifted R8 tree, producing 456kW and 580Nm to see triple digits on the speedo in just 3.1 seconds. All variants have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.


Pitched as the purist’s R8 of choice, the V10 RWD has 40/60 weight distribution, a mechanical locking rear differential and recalibrated stability control that Audi claims to offer the driver “controlled drifting” when Sport Mode is engaged.


In many respects, the R8 V10 RWD is essentially a facelifted and, as such, shares much of its predecessor’s minor cosmetic differentiation.


The split ‘sideblade’ air intakes are body-coloured at the bottom and gloss black at the top, a finish also applied to the front splitter, sill inserts and diffuser – all of which can be replaced with carbon-fibre as an option, as can the air filter cover in the engine bay.


New ‘Kemora’ grey paint has been added to the colour palette and the Spyder can be specified with extended black trim. Both body styles can have the gloss-black finish applied to the Audi rings and R8 logo.


Audi has ditched exterior Quattro badges on the facelifted R8 – on the RWS these were replaced by Audi Sport emblems – but the passenger-side Quattro dashboard plaque has been replaced with an RWD logo (in the RWS this was a build number). Interior trim consists of leather and Alcantara.


Last year, Audi sold 42 R8s in Australia, a 32.3 per cent drop over 2017. Due the pre-facelift model going into runout, just 12 sales have been reported year-to-date, a 66.7 per cent decline.


As reported, despite being a special-edition, Australia’s allocation of 40 RWS models was tipped to become the most popular R8 variant due to its $299,500 plus on-road costs (coupe) and $321,000 plus on-roads (Spyder) price tag hitting a sweet spot that had been missed since the second-generation R8 launched without a V8 option.

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