2018 Audi R8 V10 RWS First Drive: Fire Up The Not-A-Quattro

This car shouldn’t exist. It’s a unicorn in vehicular form: a rear-wheel drive Audi. And not just any Audi, but the pinnacle of Audis – the R8. Welcome to the car that Audi Sport said it would never do, the awkwardly named Audi R8 RWS, or Rear Wheel Series.


First impressions

2018 Audi R8 RWS
2018 Audi R8 RWS

So, the engineers made a rear-wheel-drive R8 – is it all roll-caged-up and hardcore? Nope. Not even a little bit. In fact, you’d struggle to differentiate the RWS from the standard R8 models if you saw it on the street. So if you're expecting this to compare to the R8 like the GT3 RS does to the 911, you'll be quite underwhelmed.

Key visual indicators are the matte-black grille and apertures at the front and rear of the car, and a gloss-black upper “blade” trailing off the window line. There are unique five-spoke 19-inch wheels, or the 20s pictured here are optional. You can, of course, jazz your R8 up with bespoke paint (including matte paint) with Audi Exclusive finishes, and that blade can be a contrast color, or indeed carbon fiber, if you’ve got the cash to pay for it all.

Mechanical changes are surprisingly mild. Obviously the front driveshafts have disappeared and that’s helped to save 110 pounds over the all-wheel-drive car, but there’s also a thicker front anti-roll bar, slightly tweaked steering software and suspension setup, and a mechanical limited-slip differ...