For as long as anyone can remember, fast Audi’s have always been four-wheel drive. Since the legendary Audi Quattro broke the mould for performance cars with its all-conquering four-wheel drive system in the rally world, Audi’s flagship cars have used the same method of being driven. Even before the iconic Quattro, you’d have to go even further back before you found a rear wheel drive Audi, nearly a century in fact, back to a time when there weren’t even sports cars on the roads.
Audi’s quickest and most powerful model, their highly regarded R8 supercar, is of course powered the same way fast Audi’s have always been, with variable power being sent to all four wheels. That was until they released the limited-edition Rear Wheel Series.
Unlike most drive orientated special editions the R8 RWS isn’t stripped out, isn’t available with unique options (the Audi Dynamic Steering or adaptive dampers aren’t even selectable), other than some vinyl stripes, and it doesn’t produce more power from the 5.2 litre naturally aspirated V10. It isn’t even the tuned ‘plus’ mode, but the standard V10 version that generates the lesser 533bhp instead of the full 600. It may be a bit lighter thanks to ditching the four-wheel drive system, but apart from that, revisions and alterations are minimal. But gimmicks and lightweight performance promises are not the point.
The limited run R8 RWS is a purer form of the already impressive Audi supercar, a return to a simpler driving experience. With no four-wheel steering, no electronically controlled differential and that naturally aspirated V10 engine providing linear torque not effected by turbo-lag. The dampers are stiffer all round, the steering geometry sharpened, and the rear wheel camber increased, all necessary to provide more feel in the steering, something that Audi’s can often be criticised for. Sharper, it most definitely is, but it’s also got more weight to it which gives you the confidence that you know what’s going on and it becomes more predictable for it. Despite the lack of four-wheel drive, the R8 RWS still has an abundance of grip thanks to the huge rear tyres and old school mechanical differential.
The Rear Wheel Series takes the R8 past its usual comfort zone, not in a scary, undriveable way, but in a way that shows off a bit more about what this car can really do. It exploits the stiffness of the chassis, the weight balance of the car and the impressive handling felt through the improved steering to produce a complete package topped off as always by that V10 engine note. It’s little wonder that Top Gear magazine called this 1 of just 999 limited edition R8 the ‘one to have’ from the R8 range.
Our 2018 ‘68’ plate Audi R8 Rear Wheel Series is finished in Ibis White and comes with additional optional features such as Bucket seats, Sports exhaust system, Reversing camera and 20” 10-spoke Y-design gloss black alloy wheels. It has covered just 9,400 miles and comes with the remainder of the Audi manufacturer warranty until October 2021.
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