VIDEO: Audi R8 RWS driven in the snow

When Audi first debuted its R8 RWS, the rear-wheel drive version of the R8 supercar, fans went a bit nuts. Not only is it the first rear-wheel drive Audi in decades but it’s a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, 540 hp, V10-powered supercar. That’s about as awesome as cars get. So what’s it like to actually drive the Audi R8 RWS? Motor1 finds out.

Okay, so Wales in the winter is probably not the best place to test the Audi R8 RWS. Or is it the best place? Either way, we’re just excited to see it being driven and to hear about how it goes. First, let’s break the R8 RWS down. For starters, it gets the standard R8 engine, so it’s a 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 that makes 540 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. That engine is paired to a sevens-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which sends power to just the rear wheels.

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Ditching Quattro all-wheel drive does a few things for the R8. First, it’s lost some weight, almost 50 kilos (110 lbs) lighter, so that makes it a bit sharper, a bit more nimble. But it also lowers the center of gravity a little bit, making it that much more of a driver’s car. It also reduces understeer, thanks to not having power sent to the front wheels, thus ruining traction. The biggest improvement, though, is with the steering. Thanks to having its front wheels free of driveshafts, the steering is far purer than the R8 Quattro, more natural and communicative. So it’s more enjoyable to drive.

Having said all of that, Motor1’s Vicky Parrott feels that the Audi R8 RWS drives quite similarly to the standard Quattro model. There’s already so much mechanical grip built into the chassis and suspension that the R8 seemingly doesn’t need all-wheel drive to be a proper weapon. While that might disappoint some fans who were expecting either a hardcore track weapon or a sideways drift-hooligan, it’s still an incredibly exciting car. It combines the all-weather, everyday supercar capabilities of the standard R8 while also getting some more sideways capabilities and better steering. Sounds good to us.

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Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.