As you may recall, last year, the Volkswagen Group’s premium Audi brand threw decades of tradition out the window (temporarily) by building a rear-wheel-drive version of its flagship R8 grand tourer. That model, dubbed the “ Audi R8 V10 RWS ” (where “RWS” stood for “Rear-Wheel Series”), was limited to just 999 units of production – a special-edition treat for sportscar purists, not intended to stick around.

But Wednesday, Audi announced that it had changed course , opting to make the “Audi R8 V10 RWD” – as it is now called – a permanent fixture in the model lineup. That’s huge news because, well, think of another brand – besides, perhaps, Subaru – whose identity seems so inextricably linked to all-wheel drive.

We’ll wait.

The new Audi R8 V10 RWD benefits from the R8’s late-2018 refresh, with a broader, flatter overall shape, more hard creases, and three equal-length vents slits above the grille, reminiscent of the legendary Audi Sport Quattro . Peak power output remains unchanged from the pre-facelift car, at 532 horsepower, emanating from a naturally aspirated, 5.2L V10 with direct injection. Power is piped through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a mechanical locking rear differential.

Together, all this is good for a 0-to-60-mph sprint in 3.7 seconds, and a 198.8-mph top speed, per Audi.

Those who recognize weight as the enemy of driving pleasure will be thrilled to know that the Audi R8 V10 RWD is some 143 pounds lighter than the Quattro version, in coupe form, while the drop-top Spyder has shed some 121 pounds relative to its AWD sibling. Just as good, the rear-mid-engine RWD grand tourer has sort of a de facto "drift mode"; just pop it into Dynamic Mode and set the ESC to Sport and you can pull off controlled drifts to your heart's content.

The new Audi R8 V10 RWD will hit Europe early next year, with a price tag in Germany of €144,000 for the coupe, and €157,000 for the Spyder. Pricing and availability in North America aren't yet known, but take note: both those prices are €22,000 lower than their respective Quattro counterparts.

shared from Fourtitude