What is it?
For the first time in its 12-year history, Audi’s mid-engined supercar is available in a rear-wheel drive configuration.
The R8 RWS (which stands for Rear Wheel Series) junks the standard model’s front driveshafts, centre differential and propshaft in the pursuit of lightness and purity. Removing the four-wheel-drive hardware has saved 50kg, which is the sort of weight saving Audi Sport could only achieve elsewhere if it stripped the cabin back to its bare bones and replaced the aluminium body panels with cardboard.
But the R8 RWS isn’t a stripped-out, uncompromising road racer; the cabin still has thick carpets and powered leather chairs and a full suite of infotainment goodies. It’s less of a natural rival for the Porsche 911 GT3, then, and better aligned with the less-hardcore 911 Carrera GTS.
If Audi Sport’s engineers had simply ripped out the four-wheel-drive gubbins and gone for an early lunch, the RWS would have been close to undriveable. To bring back some semblance of civility, they’ve fiddled with the suspension geometry and fitted a fatter front-anti roll bar; measures that nudge the car’s natural balance towards understeer and, consequently, safety.
The R8 RWS is a thoroughly re-engineered version of an existing performance car, then. It’s a limited edition model, too, with a total of 999 set to be built across coupé and Spyder body styles. It should follow that the price has been massively inflated to reflect the car’s special status, right?
Actually, starting at £112,450, the RWS is now the cheapest R8 you can buy.