Audi’s R8 has been instrumental in driving the adoption of all-wheel drive traction for both its mainstream and supercar vehicles. Which is why it may be a bit jarring for some to hear that the Four Rings has just announced the R8 V10 RWS – Rear Wheel Series. That’s right, Audi’s mid-engined hero car is going two-wheel drive.

At Audi’s Frankfurt Motor Show press conference, company officials confirmed that just 999 Coupe and Spyder RWS models will be offered worldwide, which means most R8 models you see on the street will continue to be AWD. About a third of that total is expected to be available in North America, and although pricing has not yet been announced, the RWS should be the least expensive R8 you can buy when it goes on sale.

According to Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH, “The R8 V10 RWS is made for purists,” and the specs back him up: The Coupe weighs 110 pounds less than the AWD V10, thanks to losing components like the propshaft, clutch and center differential (the droptop Spyder looses 88 pounds). What’s more, the suspension and handling electronics have been tweaked specifically for this model, in part to increase its driftability.

The naturally aspirated 5.2-liter 10-cylinder engine continues to produce 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, which is good for a 0-62 mph time of as little as 3.7 seconds (the heavier Spyder does the deed in 3.8).  

You’ll be able to spot an Audi R8 RWS on the street thanks to its matte-black grilles in the front and rear and a gloss-black upper side blade (on Coupe models) with the lower blade finished in body color. An unusual side-swapping red stripe kit is also available to further set the design apart.

Inside, sport leather seats clad in Alcantara are standard (bucket seats are optional) and, as is typical of any special edition, there’s a serialized plaque on the dash. 

Audi has called this model the “Rear Wheel Series,” which has fueled some speculation that this won’t be the last Audi Sport model to offer a rear-wheel drive variant. At present, there’s no proof that any such vehicles are in development.

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