FRANKFURT, Germany – Audi Sport launches a new lightweight version of the R8 V-10 that eschews the all-wheel-drive quattro system of the standard model for a new rear-wheel-drive setup mirroring that of the automaker’s R8 LMS race car.
Unveiled on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show, the new R8 V-10 RWS (denoting rear-wheel-standard drive) is to be produced in a limited run of 999 examples in both coupe and open-top Spyder body styles. North American orders for the new model meant to rival Porsche’s 911 GT3 begin during fourth-quarter 2017, with deliveries getting under way by mid-2018.
“The R8 V-10 RWS is made for purists – a limited-edition model for customers with an appreciation for essential driving enjoyment,” Audi Sport boss Stephen Winkelmann says.
“With a V-10 engine and rear-wheel drive, it brings the driving concept of our R8 LMS racing car to the street.”
Power for the R8 V-10 RWS comes from the same mid-rear-mounted, naturally aspirated 5.2L gasoline engine used by the R8 V-10 quattro. It produces 532 hp at 6,800 rpm and 398 lb.-ft. (540 Nm) of torque at 6,500 rpm.
The deletion of the propshaft and drive system within the front axle saves 111 lbs. (50 kg), giving the coupe version of the new Audi Sport model a curb weight of 3,505 lbs. (1,577 kg) and corresponding weight-to-power ratio of 6.6 lbs. (3 kg) per hp.
By comparison, the 3,616-lb. (1,627-kg) R8 V-10 quattro coupe boasts 6.8 lbs. (3.1 kg) per hp.
Despite the reduction in weight and a superior power-to-weight ratio, the rear-wheel-drive R8 V-10 RWS can’t quite match its all-wheel-drive sibling for outright acceleration; its claimed 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.7 seconds is 0.2 of a second off that of the R8 V-10 quattro in coupe guise. But at a claimed 199 mph (320 km/h), the new model matches the existing R8’s top speed.
A series of subtle styling tweaks help set the R8 V-10 RWS apart from the R8 V-10 quattro. Included is a matte black grille insert and air vents up front. The upper section of the car’s so-called sideblade also is finished in high gloss black, with the lower section in body color – a treatment similar to that seen on the R8 LMS GT4. Buyers also can specify a visual package consisting of red stripes across the hood, roof and rear in the coupe.
Inside, the RWD model comes with standard sport seats in leather and Alcantara. It also receives an emblem denoting its build number.
The chassis and steering system of the R8 V-10 RWS has been reworked in line with the switch to RWD. It rides on standard 19-in. wheels shod with 245/35 front and 295/35 rear tires.
In Germany, the R8 V-10 RWS is priced at €140,000 ($168,535) for the coupe and €153,300 ($184,534) for the Spyder. North American pricing was not immediately available.