Audi builds all-wheel drive cars. It also builds front-wheel drive cars. The one thing Audi doesn't do is build rear-wheel drive cars – except now, it does. Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the R8 V10 RWS breaks with tradition and sends 100 percent of its power to the rear wheels. The (usually) traction-loving engineers in Ingolstadt say it'll even drift ...
The front driveshafts are gone in the RWS, but it doesn't lose any power. The naturally aspirated V10 still produces 397 kW (540 hp) of power and 540 Nm (398 lb-ft) of torque. Even without the benefit of all-wheel drive traction off the line, it hits 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds, or 3.8 seconds if you opt for the convertible. Top speed is 320 km/h (199 mph) in the hardtop and 318 km/h (198 mph) for the drop top.
Dropping the all-wheel drive hardware helps shave 50 kg (110 lb) from the regular R8's kerb weight. The RWS Coupe weighs 1,590 kg (3,505 lb) and the RWS Spyder is 1,680 kg (3,703 lb) without a driver on board. Audi says the 40/60 front/rear weight distribution, coupled with unique chassis and suspension tuning, makes the the R8 V10 RWS more fun to drive on a track.
Given the amount of power being sent to the rear wheels, we'd be disappointed if Audi had neglected to think of drivers keen to get sideways. Flicking into Dynamic Mode loosens the grip of Stability Control for "controlled drifts," although the company says the system will still intervene if things get out of hand. Given the car shares plenty with the Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2, don't be surprised to see images of it with smoke pouring off the rear tires.
You'll be able to distinguish the RWS from regular all-wheel drive R8s by its gloss-white lower air intake, with matte-black highlights scattered around the body. There's an optional red stripe package for owners who really want to stand out, too. Inside, leather and Alcantara seats are standard, and bucket seats are on the options list.
Just 999 examples will be built, at a cost of €140,000 (US$166,500) in Coupe form and €153,000 ($181,970) as a Spyder. The car was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action.