The Audi R8 has had rear-wheel-drive models in the past, but they were limited-production examples or race cars. Today the company announced an Audi R8 RWD model and it’s just a normal part of the R8 lineup. That’s great... but is it only... the beginning?
This is not unlike the time that Lamborghini sold a RWD Gallardo first as a series of special editions like the Balboni and then as a mainstream 550-2 version, lighter and cheaper than the normal Gallardo with all-wheel-drive. That was, of course, a decade or so ago, but I won’t be mad at another Volkswagen Group V10 sports car with power only going to the rear axle.
In the case of the Audi R8 RWD, you get a 5.2-liter V10, naturally-aspirated, with 532 horsepower pushing 143 fewer pounds than the AWD version, thanks to not having a front diff or front axles. Nice.
But this leaves a space in Audi’s lineup wide open: a 2WD R8 with power only going to the front. It is not a good idea, if what you want out of a car is successfully getting you from A to B without comical amounts of drama. But this is a sports car, and the whole point is to be silly and fun and exciting. That was our only criticism of the R8 when we drove it when it was new—it was a good car at being a car, just not that great at being a machine that made your day more interesting. And what could be more interesting than trying to balance front-wheel drive with an engine sitting behind you?
Okay, yes, “interesting” is a strange choice of word there. But pity the poor Audi R8-buying billionaire out there. There is no obstacle they cannot buy out of existence, there is no problem they could not throw money at until it went away.
Until they drove a front-wheel-drive Audi R8. It will endlessly frustrate them, like nothing else in their loves could possibly do. And for that brief, hair-raising moment as they use all of its understeer to plow into a tree, they will think:
“Hm. Yes. Interesting.”