The Audi R8 RWD returns as a full-scale production model

The 2021 Audi R8 RWD is a rear-wheel-drive version of the German-made R8 supercar. Essentially a regular Audi R8 stripped of its Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the 2021 R8 RWD comes with the same 5.2-liter V-10 engine under the hood and similar features inside and out.

The big news is that the RWD model is notably lighter and a bit more affordable. The 2021 R8 RWD isn’t the first R8 with rear-wheel drive, but it’s the first RWD that’s s regular production model. Back in 2018 offered the R8 RWS, also an RWD variant, but it was limited to just 320 examples. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.

  • 2021 Audi R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V10
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    532
  • Torque @ RPM:
    398
  • Displacement:
    5.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    201 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

What makes the 2021 Audi R8 RWD special?

  • first full-scale production RWD model
  • not so many unique features
  • plenty of options available
  • 5.2-liter V-10 engine
  • 532 horsepower
  • 398 pound-feet of torque
  • not as powerful as the other R8 models
  • 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds
  • top speed of 201 mph
  • retuned chassis
  • the most affordable R8 you can buy
2021 Audi R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder Exterior
- image 939521
The rear-wheel-drive version of the R8 doesn't really stand out in a pack of AWD R8s.

Sure, it doesn’t feature the goodies that you get with the R8 Performance model, including Titanium-colored trim and five-spoke milled-cut wheels, but it’s hard to tell it apart from non-Performance models as well. However, if you look close enough, you will notice that the front splitter, the side sill inserts, and the rear diffuser are painted in high-gloss black as standard.

The side blades are finished in Mythos black, while the rear exhaust tips are chrome. Not a big deal, but hey, you can brag about these tiny special features at the annual Audi R8 meeting.

Everything else remains unchanged, so the R8 RWD comes with the sharpened exterior design introduced with the 2018 facelift and the honeycomb-design Singleframe grille. The RWD model comes standard with LED lights and dynamic turn signals, but you can opt for Audi’s laser lights. There’s also an available carbon exterior package that adds carbon-fiber side blades and lightweight elements in the engine compartment.

2021 Audi R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder Exterior
- image 939522

Inside the cabin, the RWD is fitted with sports seats with 14-way adjustability and upholstery in Nappa leather. If you want a fancier cabin, the options list includes a Premium Package with 18-way adjustable power seats with pneumatic bolsters, an Alcantara headliner, and leather on the center console and door armrests. It also includes a 550-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with 13 speakers and illuminated door sill inlays. For a sportier feel, Audi offers a carbon package with carbon-fiber surrounds in high-gloss for both the displays and the A/C vents.

The Audi R8 RWD is available in both Coupe and Spyder body styles. The latter comes with the same soft-top roof as the AWD model, featuring an electro-hydraulic drive system that raises and lowers the roof in about 20 seconds. You can operate the roof at speeds of up to 31 mph.

2021 Audi R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder Exterior
- image 939523
Under the hood, the R8 RWD retains the 5.2-liter V-10 engine of its limited-edition predecessor, the R8 RWS.

This is important because even though Audi upgraded the V-10 in the AWD models for 2019, the RWD remains at the power and torque levels of the pre-facelift R8.

Specifically, the R8 RWD boasts 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. That’s 30 horses and 15 pound-feet below the all-wheel drive R8 and 80 horsepower and 30 pound-feet below the range-topping R8 Performance.

On the other hand, in the absence of an all-wheel-drive system, the R8 RWD is notably lighter than the R8 and R8 Performance.

The coupe tips the scales at 3,594 pounds, while the Spyder models weighs in at 3,847 pounds. Both models are around 110 pounds lighter than their AWD siblings, so the RWD models covers some of its output deficit through its power-to-weight ratio.

The sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes 3.6 seconds in the R8 RWD Coupe and 3.7 clicks in the Spyder model. That’s only two tenths slower than the R8 with AWD and a half-second slower than the R8 Performance model. Top speed comes in at 201 mph, two mph more than the old R8 RWS and on par with the R8 AWD. The RWD model is five mph slower than the R8 Performance.

The R8 RWD comes with a special tuning for the chassis in order to increase performance in the absence of all-wheel drive. It features solid rear axles instead of hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increased rear negative camber.

2021 Audi R8 RWD Coupe and Spyder Exterior
- image 939520

Priced from $142,700, the Audi R8 RWD is the most affordable version of the current-generation R8. The Spyder model comes in at $154,900. Both stickers exclude the $1,495 destination charge and the $1,700 gas guzzler tax. The 2021 R8 RWD is around $17,000 more affordable than the R8 AWD and about $54,000 cheaper than the R8 Performance.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
About the author

From a limited series to a permanent addition, the R8 rear wheel drive Coupe and Spyder become the newest members of the R8 model line, joining the R8 V10 performance quattro Coupe and Spyder for the 2021 model year.

Exterior design
The character of the R8 models carries over the sharpened design enhancements for the 2021 model year. The Singleframe® grille features the honeycomb design with R8 badge. On the R8 V10 performance models, the lower trim is finished in matte Titanium color, with an option to select carbon fiber. The sideblades, mirror housings, and rear spoiler of the R8 V10 performance model are finished in carbon. At the rear of the vehicle, the dominant diffuser frames the sport exhaust with black oval tailpipes.

The V10 performance models come standard equipped with 20-inch 5-double-spoke-dynamic design milled cut wheels in titanium finish, with an option to change the color to anthracite finish. The ceramic brake calipers are available in red or blue, along with the standard gray finish. The available carbon fiber front sway bar saves 2 kg (4.4 lb.) of weight.

For the RWD, unique design elements hint at the model’s special status. The front blade, the side sill inserts, and the rear diffuser are painted in high-gloss black as standard. The sideblades are finished in Mythos black and the rear exhaust tips are finished in chrome.

Additional exterior elements include:

Standard LED headlights and LED taillights with dynamic turn signals for all R8 models.
Audi laser light is standard on V10 performance models and available for RWD variants. The laser module, which is active at speeds of 40 mph and above (when conditions permit), supplements the LED high beam and is designed to enhance visibility for the driver by projecting a low and wide beam of light on the road ahead.
As an option, the Audi rings and logo can be painted in high-gloss black on R8 V10 performance models.
For RWD models, an available carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades.

Interior design
Sporty features continue inside the V10 performance variants, where the driver-oriented interior features standard racing shell seats with manual adjustment and an Alcantara® headliner (coupe only). The three-spoke multifunction flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles includes four steering wheel-mounted satellite buttons – engine Start/Stop, Audi drive select, Performance Mode selector, and Sport exhaust. The Audi virtual cockpit, Audi phone box with signal booster, and the MMI navigation plus come standard.

A new interior design package is available for the R8 V10 performance models:

The R8 performance design package adds Mercato blue diamond contrast stitch to the standard racing shell seats which are finished with leather and Alcantara® The Mercato blue contrast stitching extends to the included full leather package, Alcantara® steering wheel, and floor mats. The shift lever is finished in black Alcantara® with a leather boot contrast stitched in Mercato blue. The included blue ceramic brake calipers tie the exterior of the car to the interior package.

Inside the RWD model, standard 14-way power sport seats are appointed in Fine Nappa leather seating surfaces. Refining the interior, the available Premium package offers 18-way adjustable power seats with pneumatic side and leg bolsters, an Alcantara® headliner, the extended leather package encasing the center console and door armrests in premium leather, the 550 watt Bang & Olufsen® sound system featuring 13 individual surrounding speakers, as well as illuminated door sill inlays.

Available interior design packages for the R8 RWD models include:

Available carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents.
The available diamond stitch full leather package, which requires the Premium package, adds diamond stitching to the Alcantara® headliner and seats.

Top down driving experience for both the RWD and quattro all-wheel drive models
The soft-top in both R8 Spyder models features an electrohydraulic drive system to raise and lower the roof in about 20 seconds, at speeds of up to 31 mph. The roof was developed with lightweight construction in mind, and weighs only 97 pounds, helping to keep the weight of the vehicle and center of gravity low. It can easily be opened or closed by operating the soft-top button in the center console.

When opened, the soft top folds into a flat storage compartment over the engine. With the top up, the rear power window blocks the wind, or can be opened to allow the rich sound of the naturally aspirated V10 engine to flow into the vehicle cockpit.

Powertrain for R8 V10 performance quattro models
With the same naturally aspirated V10 engine found in the R8 LMS racecar, the R8 is the pinnacle of performance for Audi, with no other model bearing a closer tie to racing. The seven-speed S tronic® dual-clutch transmission can shift gears in as little as 120 ms. The R8 V10 performance generates 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque and catapults from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds for the Coupe (3.3 seconds for the Spyder), with a top track speed of 205 mph (204 mph for the Spyder).

Available Audi dynamic steering offers a variable steering ratio that adjusts based on vehicle speed and the Audi drive select setting. At higher driving speeds, a less direct steering ratio helps to facilitate a more stable drive, and at lower driving speeds, a more direct steering ratio is utilized to help increase steering response for easier maneuvering.

Specially tuned chassis allows for rear-wheel drive application
Similar to the R8 V10 performance, the R8 RWD features a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter FSI V10 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. The R8 RWD will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds for the Coupe (3.7 for the Spyder), with a top track speed of 201 mph (200 mph for the Spyder). The R8 RWD weighs less than its all-wheel drive counterpart due in part to the loss of components such as the prop shaft, front axles, multi-plate clutch, and front differential.

The R8 RWD chassis has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber. The electromechanical power steering - free of torque steer - enables precise handling and driver feedback. For a heightened driving experience, the driver can choose “dynamic” mode in the standard Audi drive select and set the Stabilization Control ESC to “sport.”

Each generation of the R8 brings to the road know-how acquired on the racetrack and from the legacy of Audi endurance racing. The 2021 R8 V10 performance and R8 V10 RWD Coupe and Spyder will be available in dealerships winter 2020.

2021 Audi R8 manufacturer suggested retail prices:

Model

Starting MSRP

2021 Audi R8 V10 Coupe RWD

$142,700

2021 Audi R8 V10 Spyder RWD

$154,900

2021 Audi R8 V10 performance Coupe quattro

$196,700

2021 Audi R8 V10 performance Spyder quattro

$208,900

Prices exclude $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax ($2,100 gas guzzler tax on performance models), sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges. Dealer sets actual price.

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