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Rear-wheel drive Audi R8 V10 RWS is a Le Mans-derived street car

Reese Counts

Audi is as synonymous with all-wheel drive as the Chevy Corvette is with pushrods and the Porsche 911 is with flat-six cylinders. Currently, every performance Audi comes with some variant of quattro. It may come as a bit of a surprise then that Audi is releasing a special edition model, the R8 V10 RWS, that ditches quattro, saving weight and sending all 540 V10-powered horsepower to the rear wheels.

This is the first Audi R8 road car with rear-wheel drive and the only performance Audi currently available that sends power to just two wheels. This may sound strange at first, but Audi Sport points out that the GT-spec R8 race cars are rear-wheel drive only. Audi said the goal with the RWS was to bring that race car feel to the streets. Only 999 of these will be built in both coupe and Spyder variants. It's unclear if the car will make it to the U.S.

Other than the driveline change, not much is different. The car still uses the 5.2-liter V10 making 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. The V10 is still mated to Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The R8 V10 RWS gets some matte black elements around the exterior, including the grille and the air intake. The upper sideblade comes in gloss black while the lower portion is the same color as the rest of the bodywork. Red stripes similar to the one on the R8 LMS GT 4 are available as an option.

The new model weighs about 110 pounds less than a standard coupe thanks to the loss of parts like the driveshaft, multi-plate clutch and center differential. Weight has shifted towards the rear. The R8 V10 RWS has a split of 40.6 front/59.4 rear weight distribution. The car comes with black-finished 19-inch aluminum wheels in a five-spoke V-design, with 245/35 section tires up front and 295/35 out back.

The car goes on sale later this year. The coupe starts at $168,000, while the Spyder rings up for $183,000. Both of those undercut the now quite similar Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2. Both cars share the same chassis and use variants of the same V10. While a lightweight, rear-wheel drive car is cool, it's a strange move for an automaker that has so much invested in the quattro name.

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