It would come with less weight and better fuel economy than an R8 Quattro.
The rear-wheel-drive version of the Audi R8 appears to be returning to the United States for the 2021 model year because there are listings for it on the EPA's Fueleconomy.gov site. The page shows both coupe and Spyder convertible variants of the model.
Motor1.com reached out to Audi USA for more information about this listing. At this time, we haven't yet heard back.
A rear-drive R8 was previously available in America as the limited-edition RWS for the 2018 model year. In late 2019, Audi announced the RWD R8 would be a regular part of the model lineup in Europe. Until this EPA listing, there was no clear indication that Audi intended to introduce the vehicle in the US, too.
Gallery: 2020 Audi R8 RWD
The fuel economy is the same for the R8 RWD coupe and Spyder. It's 14 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. In comparison, the all-wheel-drive version gets 13 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined.
For reasons that aren't currently clear, the 2018 version of the rear-drive R8 got slightly better fuel economy than the new one. The EPA rated it at 14 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 18 mpg highway.
The EPA site says the 2021 R8 RWD uses a 5.2-liter V10 and seven-speed automatic gearbox. Assuming the specs are the same as the European model, the engine produces 532 horsepower (397 kilowatts) and 398 pound-feet (540 Newton-meters) of torque. This is a bit less than the standard all-wheel-drive version with 562 hp (419 kW) and 406 lb-ft (551 Nm).
While there's not as much power, the simpler RWD layout lets this coupe weigh 143 pounds (65 kilograms) less than the AWD version. The rear-drive Spyder gets a 121-pound (55-kilogram) diet.
The rear-drive R8 coupe can reach 62 mph (100 kph) in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph (320 kph). The Spyder is a bit heavier so it needs 3.8 seconds to reach 62 mph and tops out at 198 mph (318 kph).
In Europe, the R8 RWD coupe and Spyder sell for €22,000 ($25,000 at current exchange rates) less than the base Quattro versions. Assuming this remains true for the US, then the rear-drive coupe would start at around $144,900, and the convertible would be about $157,100.