2022 Audi R8 RWD Type 4S

2022 Audi R8 RWD Type 4S

Does the transformation from quattro to rear-wheel drive make the Audi R8 more of a driver’s car? We road test it to find out.


Who remembers the Audi R8 RWS? It was a run of R8 V10s limited to just 999 rear-wheel drive cars that Audi offered prior to updating the model range in 2017. The RWS must have been well received, because now you can purchase a more appropriately named RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) model without having to worry about your Audi dealer running out of stock. The RWD now represents the entry point to the Audi R8 range, and if the more exotic Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD is anything to go by, it might just be the one to go for.

2022 Audi R8 RWD Type 4S

On paper, this is a very simple car to get your head round. Audi have done away with the front driveshaft and stripped 65 kilos from the kerbweight, which brings it down to 1,595kg. It has passive damping, a mechanical differential, and the same naturally aspirated 5.2 litre V10 engine we’ve come to love. The motor has been detuned so it now produces a ‘lowly’ 533bhp at 7,900rpm and 398lb ft. at 6,400rpm, and if you were hoping for a manual gearbox then you’ll be disappointed to discover that Audi hasn’t seen fit to offer the RWD with one.

2022 Audi R8 RWD Type 4S

For context, we spent some time with the range-topping V10 Performance a couple of weeks before this road test, an exercise which helped shed some light on how the entry level RWD slots in to the product range. It may be down 29bhp on a V10 quattro and a whopping 79bhp down on the Performance model, but once you’re rolling, it doesn’t feel like you’re giving away as much power as the spec sheet suggests. The Performance variant is still faster, make no mistake, but the RWD’s lower kerb weight offsets some of the power difference, so you’re never left feeling short changed. Zero to 62mph is seen in 3.7 seconds and the top speed is 199mph.

Like with any R8 though, it’s the way the car deploys its speed that is most satisfying. The atmospheric engine crescendos as it approaches its 8,700rpm limiter, V10 screaming away behind you. It offers everything you expect from a normally aspirated motor with its crisp throttle response, linear delivery and climatic top-end. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This V10 is one of the great internal combustion engines and we must protect it at all costs. We love irresponsible amounts of power as much as the next car enthusiast, but in the real world, 533bhp is more than ample and feels like the right amount of poke for the package.

You would think sending all that power to the rear wheels would leave the R8 feeling a little wayward, but Audi has worked on the stability management to ensure that it retains its reputation for accessible performance. With all the systems on, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re driving an R8 endowed with quattro, given its ability to lay all the power efficiently to the road. But a tap of the ESC-off button backs the traction control off allowing you some slip, and a longer press disengages all the driver aids. Now we’re talking. I’ll admit to cautiously approaching the R8 with the driver aids disabled. The Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD with which it is closely related is a highly exciting but snappy car to manage, but fortunately, the Audi doesn’t possess the Lambo’s thirst for bloodshed. Instead, a stab of the throttle and a handful of steering lock manifests itself as manageable oversteer, and you can ease out the throttle and wind on the opposite lock gradually to help neutralise the slide. It will also skid on demand whereas other cars require bullying in to doing anything interesting. For anyone who has complained about the R8 having a benign chassis, the RWD goes some way to debunking the idea. Granted, it’s not the sharpest tool in the supercar box, but there’s a lovely, approachable, mid-engine balance to it that’s begging to be exploited.

Another upshot of removing the front driveshaft is that some of the weight has come off the nose. Weight distribution is now 40:60 front to rear, making the RWD a more direct car than its quattro siblings. Indeed, turn in is a little crisper, but the steering still feels vague and in typical fast Audi style, it will push on if you get greedy with your entry speed. Generally, though, the R8 remains fast but safe, and only when you really push the performance envelope does it begin to lose some composure. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox continues to impress with its rapid gear changes, and the steel brakes have more than enough stopping power for road use.

There are multiple driving modes available which include comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual. In comfort, the Audi R8 is a remarkably inoffensive car, not just by supercar standards, but by any measure. In day-to-day driving, you could easily forget that you have a big V10 engine behind you, and the ride quality is sublime for a car with this much performance and ability. People preach about how usable modern supercars are, but in truth, daily driving them can still be something of a chore. An R8, however, can be used all day, every day, without fail. Interestingly, the usability doesn’t take away from how special it is to drive. The cabin is really starting to show its age, but there’s something about rolling around in a V10 supercar that never gets old.

Speaking of the cabin, it’s still very well appointed with quality materials. There’s nothing particularly exciting about it, but you know you’re getting solid build quality and a first-rate infotainment system. It may be getting a little old now, but I still think this implementation of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with the nav included in the instrument cluster is one of their best, to date. Very rarely are your eyes off the road which is important when you have so much performance at your disposal. If you’re going to spec anything here, make it the Bang and Olufsen Sound system. It may be an additional £1,895 but the options list is sparse so consider the fact you’re saving money elsewhere and get the high end sound system.

Top tip if you’re in the market for a V10 Performance. They come as standard with the R8 bucket seat, but you should definitely option the normal sports seats back in at no extra cost. The problem with the bucket is that it’s fixed, whereas the sport seat is comfier and has more options for adjustment, making it easier to pick your preferred driving position. It goes without saying then, spending £3,000 to upgrade to the buckets in the RWD is a waste of money.

The Audi R8 RWD is an easy recommendation. Prices start from £115,185 for the coupe and £123,875 for the Spyder. In terms of price, its closest competition is the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S and Mercedes-AMG GT, both of which undercut the R8 on paper but can easily bridge that gap once options are included. Conversely, Audi has limited how much you can spec the RWD to help it maintain it’s position as the entry-level R8. If you want a rear-wheel drive V10 supercar then your only other option is the Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD which is a far less forgiving car. But then, it does have another 70bhp and weighs around 200kg less. It’s also another £50,000, give or take. All things considered, the R8 RWD occupies a class of its own. If you can easily live without the top-spec Performance model, then in our opinion the more affordable RWD car is the Audi R8 to go for.

“A stab of the throttle and a handful of steering lock manifests itself as manageable oversteer”

Technical Specifications / DRIVES TODAY RATING 8/10

  • Engine 5,204cc V10
  • Max Power 533bhp @ 7,900rpm
  • Max Torque 398lb ft @ 6,400rpm
  • 0-62mph 3.7 secs
  • Max Speed 199mph
  • Weight 1,595kg
  • Price £115,185

Naturally aspirated with 10 cylinders. Perfect.

“This V10 is one of the great internal combustion engines”
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