- audi has announced that a rear-wheel-drive variant of the r8 will be permanently added to its u.s. lineup.
- the rear-wheel-drive r8 will be offered with the same 5.2-liter v-10 engine seen in the r8 quattro, and it'll produce 532 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque.
- the r8, in both its variants, is expected to reach dealers in the winter of 2020.
after offering a (very) limited run of the rear-wheel-drive audi r8 in 2018, audi has announced that it will become a permanent fixture in the r8 lineup, offered in both the spyder and the coupe alongside the quattro all-wheel-drive system for 2021. powering the rear-wheel configuration will be the same 5.2-liter v-10 engine churning out 532 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque.
only 999 examples of the limited-edition audi r8 rear wheel series (rws) were made, and of those, 320 were available in the united states. just as it was then, the rear-wheel-drive r8 is mechanically the same as the r8 quattro, with the exception of the lack of axles, driveshaft, and differential sending power to the front wheels. a familiar seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sends power to the rear wheels through a limited slip differential. the rwd coupe hustles from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, and the spyder does that same sprint in 3.7 seconds; the r8 quattro reaches 60 mph 0.4 second faster for both spyder and coupe.
when we drove the rws back in 2018, we said: "yes, the quattro version, which also exhibits a distinct rear-drive balance, is quicker, easier, and on some level equally engaging. but the rws asks more of its driver at the limit. and there's something special about that experience that all-wheel drive will never deliver. audi knows this. and it's why this car exists."
the rear-wheel-drive r8 replaces the cheaper of the r8's two trims, so now all-wheel drive is only offered on the performance model. in the rear-wheel configuration, the coupe and spyder cost $144,195 and $156,395, respectively, while the quattro coupe and spyder cost $198,195 and $210,395, respectively. the rear-wheel-drive configuration won't be offered in the performance model.
the r8's appearance gets a light update, including new carbon finishes on the side blades and a rear spoiler on the performance model, as well as led taillights with dynamic turn signals for all r8 models. all versions of the 2021 r8 will reach dealers in the winter of 2020.