2018 Audi R8 RWS — Road Test

Posted on Feb 26, 2018 by
Audi R8 RWS
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  • Last modified: February 28, 2018

Review Summary:

Built by hand in a limited edition run at the Böllinger Höfe R8 factory, the new R8 RWS (Rear Wheel Series) is a mid-engined V10 that can’t count to quattro

Pros

Fantastic naturally-aspirated engine and transmission, great chassis

Cons

It’s only at the limit that the R8 RWS makes any sense — everywhere else the regular all-wheel drive R8 quattro is the car to have

Auto Middle East is among the first in the world to drive the limited edition rear-wheel drive 2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS. Text and Images: Amit Benjamin

2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS

A rear-wheel drive Audi R8 sounds like a good idea. What’s it like?

Over the years the Audi R8 has been a firm favourite with your correspondent, and having driven almost every variant of it, the RWS is everything you would expect from Ingolstadt’s mid-engined supercar. It’s fast, looks great, sounds heroic and despite losing its all-wheel drive grip, remains as useable everyday as ever.

2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS

The daftly-named Rear Wheel Series (RWS) loses a prop shaft, centre differential and quattro all-wheel drive system, which makes it about 50kg lighter then the standard R8. The mighty 5.2-litre V10 remains as enthralling as ever, which means 533 horsepower and 540Nm of torque — the loss of a driven axle means Audi has cut back on the power — a zero to 100km/h time of about 3.7 seconds, served up with a side of glorious, high-rev wailing. But the appeal of this car is not merely in the specifications sheet; this is the first-ever rear-driven R8 and there will only be 999 ever made.

It looks good, but the red graphics aren’t exactly tasteful…

2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS

Perhaps you are right. Although this very car was revealed at the 2017 Geneva motor show when Audi Sport announced this model — in fact, this particular car is No 1 of 999 —  in my opinion, the handsome styling is spoilt by the vulgar body stripes and roof graphics; they may work well on the show floor, but out on the street they make you look like a bit of a try-hard.

Apart from that it still looks great, even though visual changes from the regular all-wheel drive version are minimal.

Does it really feel much different to drive?

Many journalists who drove the car in Europe felt the 2018 Audi R8 RWS was discernibly tail happy, however on our bone-dry roads and at sane speeds the difference is hardly felt. It does feel a little more darty when it comes to changing direction, but that could merely be power of suggestion. However, it does have a new steering, damper and anti-roll bar settings in line with the changes.

The amount of mechanical grip the quattro R8 has is phenomenal, and therefore, unless it’s torrential wet, or you’re driving like a complete idiot, you’d be hard pressed to put your finger on the rear-drive-ness of this one. On a track though, it would be a different story I suspect.

How’s the rest of it?

2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS

It’s typical R8 fair, the cabin is identical although there is plenty more Alcantara instead of leather in here. All the accoutrements are clear and present in our tester and really, despite the lack of all-paw-grip you could drive the Audi R8 RWS every day without having to pack a spare change of underwear.

And the verdict?

This isn’t a car that feels markedly different from the standard AWD R8, however, the 2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS could prove to be a fantastic investment, given that this is the first rear-wheel drive Audi ever made. Plus, only 999 will ever be, it looks great and is not exactly lousy to drive. Have the monies at the ready? This could be a better investment than the Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2.

 2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS

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