Frankfurt: Audi Unveils R8 RWS for Purists

The latest iteration of the R8 has been unveiled in Frankfurt and it loses drive to the front wheels. The R8 RWS (Rear Wheel Series) will be limited to a total 999 units in Spyder and Coupe variants.

Powered by Audi’s excellent naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10, the R8 RWS will weigh 110 lbs less and is being hailed as an even rawer driving experience than the all-wheel-drive R8.

“The R8 V10 RWS is made for purists,” said Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH. “A limited-edition special model for customers with an appreciation for essential driving enjoyment, the R8 V10 RWS is an absolutely exclusive offer. With its mid-mounted V10 engine and rear-wheel drive, it successfully brings the driving concept of our R8 LMS racing car to the streets.”

The RWS won’t come with the full fat 610 hp R8 V10 Plus tune but will produce a more than adequate 540 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, like the standard R8. Without the front wheels to help with acceleration, the 0-60 time has grown slightly to 3.7 seconds (up from the standard model’s 3.5 second sprint time). The Spyder meanwhile will hit 60 in 3.8 seconds.

Bear in mind, though that Audi Sport deliberately quotes less-than-stellar 60 times so that drivers only experience their quoted time or better.

What the RWS loses in 0-60 times, it gains in weight savings. Tipping the scales at 3,505 lbs, it’s no lightweight but lost 110 lbs to its quattro sister. That’s thanks to a lack of propshaft, center diff, and multi-plate clutch, among other things.

Thanks to a brand new chassis set up and some new programming in the drive mode selections, the R8 RWS will be capable of “controlled drifts,” something the old one didn’t exactly struggle with. But the car should be more exciting around a track, if not necessarily as fast.

Available on sale in Europe as of this fall, the R8 RWS will come with standard black-finished 19-inch cast aluminum wheels wearing 245/35 rubber up front, and 295/35s in the back. Those of us who can’t afford it will know it by its optional red stripe, which crosses the car in the middle (on the roof, that is), going through a diagonal Audi Sport quadrangle.