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Frankfurt show: Audi unveils rear-drive R8

Drift king: With 397kW/540Nm sent exclusively to the rear axle, the Audi R8 V10 RWS will be more than capable of some tail-happy action.

Lightweight, limited-edition Audi R8 V10 RWS due Down Under in March 2018

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Audi logo12 Sep 2017

By TIM ROBSON

AUDI has previewed a new “made-for-purists” rear-wheel-drive version of its R8 two-door super-coupe and Spyder roadster at the Frankfurt motor show this week ahead of the limited-run models’ arrival in Australia early next year.

Known as the R8 V10 RWS (Rear Wheel Series), the super-twins will be limited to 999 examples worldwide in both coupe and convertible form – both powered by a naturally aspirated V10 engine producing 397kW and 540Nm.

Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary told GoAuto in Frankfurt that a small number of examples are confirmed to touch down on Australian soil in the first quarter of 2018.

“The exclusive R8 V10 RWS will come to Australia in very limited numbers, and is expected to arrive around March,” he said.

Although local pricing is yet to be confirmed, the new R8 variant will go on sale in Europe for €140,000 ($A208,585) from early next year.

At present, the Australian-spec R8 range kicks off from $367,000 plus on-roads costs for the base 397kW V10 coupe, $388,500 for the convertible version and tops out at $403,000 for the fixed-roof 447kW V10 Plus.

The latter grade is responsible for 80 per cent of R8 sales in Australia, which total 34 to the end of August – down eight units on the same period last year.

The new RWS coupe weighs 50kg less than its all-wheel-drive counterpart at 1509kg, while the Spyder sheds 40kg to tip the scales at 1680kg.

Despite the weight saving, the R8 rear-driver is no match for its all-paw V10 sibling, with the RWS taking two-tenths longer from zero to 100km/h at 3.7 seconds.

This deficit blows out further when compared with the R8 V10 Plus, which claims a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.2s.

Audi estimates the R8 will use 12.4 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined economy cycle, down from 11.4L/100km for the all-wheel-drive version.

A matte-black grille and air apertures at the front and rear differentiate the RWS version visually from a regular V10, while the upper-side blade of the coupe is finished in gloss-black and the lower blade is matched to the vehicle’s body colour.

Leather and Alcantara seats greet driver and passenger, with sports bucket pews an optional extra, while a build plate also adorns the dash.

A set of red roof decals are also available for the new coupe at an extra cost.

Audi Sport chief executive Stephan Winkelmann said in Frankfurt that “the R8 V10 RWS is made for purists”.

“With its mid-mounted V10 engine and rear-wheel drive, it successfully brings the driving concept of our R8 LMS racing car to the streets,” he said.

This is not the first version of a rear-drive V10-powered two-door to emerge from the Volkswagen Group – Lamborghini currently offers a 426kW V10-powered version of its Huracan in rear-wheel-drive form, while the previous-generation Gallardo was also available in two-wheel-drive configuration.

The RWS will be the second R8 product to be sold without a driven front axle, the other being the R8 e-tron from 2012.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.