A couple of years ago, Audi brought back a rear-wheel-drive variant of the R8 called the RWS. It was lighter than the regular all-wheel-drive models, and substantially cheaper. But it was limited to 320 examples. If you had your heart set on one but missed out, we’ve got great news: The 2021 Audi R8 RWD brings back the affordable(ish) lightweight idea, confirming information published by the EPA. But this time there are no production limits and it’s available as a convertible.
Fundamentally, the R8 RWD is like its RWS predecessor. It gets the same V10 as the old base R8 Quattro, which makes 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. It’s coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Coupe can get to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 201 mph, whereas the Spyder adds a tenth and loses an mph. The lack of driveline components for the front wheels means that the RWD models are significantly lighter than Quattro variants, though Audi didn’t say by how much. Based on the old RWS, the new car should weigh in just a bit over 3,700 pounds. Audi also made some suspension and axle changes for the RWD versus the Quattro. It features rear axle shafts that are solid rather than hollow, the front anti-roll bar is stiffer, and there’s more negative camber on the rear wheels.
Since the R8 underwent a refresh since the RWS came out, the RWD features the more angular front bumper design and opened up rear bumper. Distinguishing it from a Quattro will be tricky, since the only real differentiators are chrome exhaust tips and black painted air intakes and rear diffuser, the latter of which can be changed with options.
All 2021 Audi R8 models will hit dealers this winter. The RWD Coupe starts at $144,195, and the RWD Spyder starts at $156,395, both of which represent a significant savings over the previous base R8 Quattro Coupe that started around $170,000. The price gulf is even bigger compared to the 2021 R8 Quattro Coupe V10 Performance that starts at $198,195.