When Audi first announced the R8 RWS (Rear Wheel Series), the internet went wild. The idea of a rear-wheel drive Audi R8 was something that had most enthusiasts drooling. Audi has always been known for its Quattro all-wheel drive, so no one was really wishing for rear-drive. But the prospect of a rear-wheel drive, mid-engine, V10-powered supercar is almost something too good to pass up. Which is why we were very excited to see the Audi R8 RWS at the New York Auto Show (NYIAS).
Most people were gawking at the Audi RS5 Sportback which recently debuted in New York as well. Right next to it, though, was the R8 RWS and that is, arguably, even more exciting. Only 999 units are being built, so the R8 RWS we saw was only 1 of 999, making it a very special car.
Powering the Audi R8 RWS is the same 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 engine as the standard R8. So it makes 540 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, not the 610 hp and 413 lb-ft of the R8 V10 Plus. The lesser power figures are probably welcome with only two driven wheels, though, and 540 hp is still a whole lot, enough to smoke its rear tires to bits. And it will do that on command.
On the outside, the R8 RWS doesn’t look too much different than the standard car but enough that Audi enthusiasts will immediately recognize it as something special. So those who know will know. The RWS gets body color sideblades, an asymmetrical stripe down the top of the car and black wheels and mirror caps. So it’s a bit different than the standard car but not enough to ruin its already stunning looks.
It’s unfortunate that the R8 RWS will only be limited to 999 units, all of which are almost certainly sold already, as it’s probably the one to get. Its lack of front axles, differential and driveshaft make its front end lighter, sharper and more communicative, so it’s more of a driver’s car than the standard R8. It’s also lighter as a whole, as it lacks the heavy center Torsen diff as well. So it’s just more dynamic overall.
Luckily for me, there will only be 999 models made because, after seeing it in person at the New York Auto Show, I probably would have done something very financially stupid to put one in my garage…