The acclaimed Quattro all-wheel drive system that Audi built its reputation on is being swapped for a rear-wheel drive configuration for the entry model R8 for 2021. The German supercar made history in 2018 when its Rear Wheel Series model became the first road-going rear-wheel drive Audi. While that variant was limited to just 999 examples, the 2021 version will be the permanent base model Audi R8 in both coupe and Spyder form. A rear-wheel drive Audi probably seems like a paradox for loyal Quattro fans. However, the new drivetrain setup results in a lighter car that is more engaging at its limits. The result is an incredibly unadulterated experience for driving purists.
The new model includes the same 5.2 liter V10 powerplant used in the Performance trim, but with less power. The base model produces 532 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque instead of the 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque that the more expensive trim delivers. Power is put through a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Acceleration in the RWD R8 is a little off its more powerful sibling’s pace.
Despite the power disadvantage, the base model coupe still manages to get to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. The Spyder trim comes in a tenth of a second slower at 3.7 seconds. The Performance Coupe is able to finish the 60 mph run four tenths of a second quicker at 3.2 seconds, while its Spyder form can get the job done in 3.3 seconds. The top speed for the R8 RWD coupe is 201 mph, 4 mph slower than the 205 mph that the R8 Performance coupe can achieve. The Spyder variants for both models top out 1 mph lower than their hardtop counterparts. All-wheel drive will be exclusive to the Performance model, which will not have an option for a rear-drive setup.
As you would expect from a supercar from the four rings, the cabin is high-quality and well-designed. If you opt for the Premium package, your R8 will be delivered with 18-way adjustable power seats, extended leather that covers the center console and door armrests, a 550-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system, illuminated door sill inlays and an Alcantara headliner. For an ultra-premium style, diamond stitching on the headliner and seats is available through an optional package.
Carbon fiber trim packages for both the interior and exterior can also be added for an additional cost. The soft-top only Spyder can deliver open-air driving in about 20 seconds at speeds up to a brisk 31 mph. The RWD versions will have a starting MSRP of $144,195 for the coupe and $156,395 for the Spyder. The Performance trim will cost you an extra $54,000 at $198,195 for the coupe and $210,395 for the Spyder. The new R8 models will be available later this year in the winter of 2020.
|PRICE||$144,195 – $210,395 (MSRP)|
|BODY STYLE||2-door coupe or convertible|
|ENGINE TYPE||5.2 liter DOHC 40-valve V-10|
|POWER||532 hp (RWD)|
602 hp (Performance)
|TORQUE||398 lb-ft (RWD)|
413 lb-ft (Performance)
|DRIVE TYPE||Rear-wheel drive (RWD)|
All-wheel drive (Performance)
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|0 – 60 MPH||3.6 sec / 3.7 sec (RWD Coupe / RWD Spyder)|
3.2 sec / 3.3 sec (Performance Coupe / Performance Spyder)
|TOP SPEED||201 mph / 200 mph (RWD Coupe / RWD Spyder)|
205 mph / 204 mph (Performance Coupe / Performance Spyder)
|FUEL TANK CAPACITY||21.9 gal|
|FUEL ECONOMY||City: 13 mpg|
Highway: 20 mpg
Combined: 16 mpg