2021 Audi R8 adding less-expensive rear-drive models

The EPA provided the clue, and now it’s coming true.

In July, we reported that EPA fuel economy figures published on fueleconomy.gov indicated a rear-drive 2021 Audi R8 was coming to the U.S. Audi confirmed the news on Thursday and revealed that both the coupe and Spyder will get rear-drive models in addition to the standard all-wheel-drive versions.

The 2021 R8 lineup consists of R8 V10 Performance Coupe and Spyder and R8 V10 RWD Coupe and Spyder models. The RWD versions get less power and come at a discount.

The R8 RWD models use the same naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-10 as the V10 Performance models, but here it’s tuned to make 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque instead of 603 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. With less grip and less power, Audi says the R8 RWD coupe will hit 60 mph from a stop in 3.6 seconds and the Spyder will do the deed in 3.7 seconds. The coupe will top out at 201 mph and the Spyder will hit 200 mph. The lesser performance is despite less weight due to the RWD models’ lack of all-wheel-drive components, including the prop shaft, front axles, multi-plate clutch, and front differential.

2021 Audi R8 V10 RWD Spyder

2021 Audi R8 V10 RWD Spyder

The drop in performance will be worth it for buyers who want to get an R8 at a lower price. The 2021 Audi R8 V10 Coupe RWD starts at $145,895, including $1,495 for destination and a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax, while the Spyder starts at $158,095. That’s about 25% less than a 2021 R8 V10 Performance Quattro that starts at $200,295 for the coupe (including $1,495 for destination and a $2,100 gas-guzzler tax) and $212,485 for the Spyder.

Audi adjusts the R8’s chassis for rear drive by using solid instead of hollow rear axles, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and more negative camber in the rear.

The 2021 Audi R8 RWD coupe and Spyder get unique design elements. The front blade, side sill inserts, and rear diffuser are all painted gloss black, while the side blades sport Mythos black paint and the exhaust tips are chrome. The all-wheel-drive R8 V10 Performance models have matte titanium lower trim; the side blades, mirror housings, and rear spoiler have a carbon finish; and the tailpipes are black.

2021 Audi R8 V10 RWD Spyder

2021 Audi R8 V10 RWD Spyder

An optional Carbon Exterior package for RWD models uses carbon fiber for the side blades and in the engine compartment.

The RWD variants also don’t come standard with the laser headlights of the V10 Performance models, though they are optional.

Interior design packages for the RWD models consist of a Carbon Interior package with carbon-fiber surrounds for the instrument cluster and air vents and a Diamond Stitch Full Leather package with diamond stitching on the Alcantara headliner and seats.

Audi also announced a new interior package for R8 Performance models. The R8 Performance Design package adds Mercato blue diamond contrast stitching to the standard leather- and Alcantara-upholstered racing shell seats, a full leather package, Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, and floor mats. The package also comes with blue ceramic brake calipers, an Alcantara shift lever, and a leather shifter boot with the Mercato blue stitching.

The 2021 Audi R8 will be available late this year.


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