When Audi first debuted the R8 RWS, it really took us by surprise. It’s the first rear-wheel drive car in the brand’s history and it’s a limited production car, with only 999 being built, yet it’s actually the cheapest R8 you can buy. So it actually presents a great supercar bargain. However, there’s another new rear-wheel drive car in its price bracket, one that could be even more exciting — the Aston Martin Vantage.
The new Aston Martin Vantage is an interesting car because it takes what was so great about the old Vantage — analog steering, muscular V8 and old-school feel — and blended it with new-school performance and technology. It also gets a new engine…from AMG. Rather than a proper Aston motor, it gets the same 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 as the Mercedes-AMG GT. That might sound like heresy but it’s a seriously good engine and works wonders in the Vantage.
In this new video from Motor Trend, Johnny Liebermann and Jethro Bovington take both cars to Scotland for a hillclimb to see which is fastest. (See the video here)
On the road, the Aston Martin is more of an occasion. Despite being a typical sports car in layout; front engine and rear wheel drive, the Aston is the louder, more exciting car. Its 503 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque allow it to be explosively powerful in any gear, at any rpm, all the time. ‘Explosive’ is also a good word to describe the Aston, as every input, whether it be by foot or hand, causes absolutely immediate response. That makes it a bit trickier to drive but far more engaging.
On the flip side, the Audi R8 RWS is the more clinical car, despite being the more exotic of the two, with a mid-engine layout and a 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 engine. But despite being technically more “pure”, the Audi R8 RWS feels less engaging and thrilling, even if it is stupendously fast and astonishingly capable.
So which was is faster up the hill? Well, Bovington drives both, as he’s the proshoe of the two, and he’s able to, after several laps in both, set a slightly quicker time in the Audi. That’s because it’s a bit more powerful, a bit easier to drive and its slight oversteer actually made it a bit more agile on some of the really tight corners.
Still, in the end, both presenters chose the Aston Martin Vantage as the better car. It’s better on the road, as it’s more exciting, more engaging and has much more feel and feedback, and it’s only marginally slower on the hillclimb. The Audi R8 RWS is truly a fantastic car but it’s a just a touch too clinical and precise to match the explosive charisma of the Aston.