New models - Audi - R8 - RWS
Audi R8 RWS headed Down Under
Limited numbers of rear-wheel-drive Audi R8 for Australia, priced under $300,000
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15 Feb 2018
By TIM ROBSON
AUDI Australia has secured up to 30 examples of the company’s R8 Rear Wheel Series, which is limited to just 999 units worldwide.
The R8 RWS, which was revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, will cost $299,500 before on-road costs in Coupe form, and $321,000 as a soft-top Spyder.
Cars are expected to land locally in May.
The RWS, which brings rear-wheel-drive to the R8 for the first time since its launch in 2006, shares the same Lamborghini-sourced powerplant as its two all-wheel-drive stablemates, the V10 and V10 Plus. It produces the same 397kW and 540Nm outputs as the V10, rather than the 449kW and 560Nm of the V10 Plus.
Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary told GoAuto that the final number of RWS cars the company could potentially secure could vary.
“Because it’s a limited model, we might be able to get a little bit more, depending on demand,” he said. “We might not get quite thirty, we might get a few more… but we’ll get about that.”
Mr Cleary said that there has been a lot of early interest from the Audi dealer group, thanks to the R8’s unique configuration.
“The offer of the car, and just the fact that it’s unique,” said Mr Cleary when asked why the car appealed. “It’s a rear-wheel-drive R8, which we’ve never offered before. We do between 40 and 50 R8s a year, so maybe 30 isn’t enough.
We’ll have to wait and see.”
The R8 tops the Audi model roster, but Mr Cleary said that when it was launched locally, there was a degree of uncertainty as to how the market would react to such an expensive Audi.
“No one was really there (in that sports car space) back in 2006, 2007,” he said. “Audi had to make sure there was a market there, and that it was willing to pay that much for an Audi. But it went extraordinarily well.”
Mr Cleary suggested that a cheaper version of the R8 has been the subject of internal review for some time.
“There’s been lots of discussions since then about smaller engines and cheaper price and all that sort of stuff,” he said.
“But in that time we’ve gone from having one RS model in the range to an RS model in every range. So actually, you know, the benefit of having the R8 at the pinnacle of the range is that it stays there. We don’t need or want to sell lots, and nor would R8 customers want oodles and oodles of R8s around. It’s an exclusive vehicle.”
Mr Cleary also said that the move to a rear-wheel-drive layout – mimicking the Lamborghini Huracan’s LP580-2, which uses the same engine and platform – is not an indication of a change of philosophy for the R8.
“Is it a change for quattro and Audi Sport? No, it’s something different, it’s something cool, it’s exciting,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it when it arrives.”
The RWS Coupe is all but identical to the V10 range, and is built on a carbon-fibre-reinforced alloy space frame with the 5.2-litre petrol V10 mounted behind the driver and passenger.
Dropping the front-wheel-drive system saves 50kg in the coupe and 40kg in the Spyder, bringing their respective weights down to 1590kg and 1680kg.
The car comes standard with Audi’s digital dash, Alcantara/leather interior with sports seats, 20-inch rims, matrix LED headlights and LED tail-lights, automatic lights and wipers, a sophisticated drive mode select system, bi-modal sports exhaust and driver aids including adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.
Acceleration is slightly down when compared to all-wheel-drive versions, with the R8 RWS covering 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds (Spyder 3.8s) and a top speed of 320km/h (Spyder 318km/h). The V10 Plus nails the same mark in 3.2s as a coupe and 3.3s in Spyder form, with the V10 0.3s behind in both variants.
Only 999 R8 RWSs will be built worldwide, and can be picked via a matte black grille and vents, while the upper half of the decorative side blade is finished in gloss black with the lower one in the single body colour available, which is Ibis White. A red stripe is optional.
Audi sold 62 R8s in Australia in 2017, a drop of 32 units or 34 per cent over the 2016 calendar year. Five cars have been sold thus far in 2018.
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