Audi R8 RWS


RWS - this is the supercar that was never supposed to exist.

I’ve got to be a bit careful here because my usual unbiased, fair judgement is on the line.

I absolutely adore this car and I’ve spent a fair bit of time in R8s this year now. Yeah, you could say it’s been a good year. You know what? As Audi has thrown its rulebook out of the window with this car, I’ll throw out mine. I love this car and I simply don’t care if this isn’t a fair appraisal.

The Audi R8 RWS – RWS meaning ‘Rear Wheel Series’ – is a run of only 999 rear-wheel drive only R8s that will be produced. Time’s either running out or has already ran out if you want one of the series, you should have already ordered one to be honest. Shame on you if you haven’t because it’s utterly fantastic and actually, go and kick yourself up the backside as punishment.

The R8 RWS comes with the 5.2-litre normally aspirated V10 engine sat smack in the middle of the car just like normal, with the output of one of the world’s greatest engines remaining at 540 horses, also just like normal. They now drive the rear-wheels only, of course, and removing the mechanicals that allowed the front wheels to be powered has saved around 50kg of weight from the front end, so this is now a lighter supercar than it was before.

To be honest, that really doesn’t matter though, as you won’t notice any difference between this and the standard R8 coupe, aside from perhaps a little quicker turn in – but that’s it. It handles just as easily and as predictably as the standard R8 out on the road, and without a racetrack to hand you’re unlikely to turn off the traction control to discover where the limit of grip is in your £100,000+ supercar. On the road, you won’t find that limit unless you’re being a knob, and when you’ve got all that power to control around other road users, you’d best be sensible about it.

As stated, the mid-mounted masterpiece containing the power is still one of the finest engines ever to be put into a production car, revving out to 8,500rpm and a crescendo of noise that is now almost impossible to find elsewhere – how many other N/A V10s do we see on the road? How many more will ever be produced? It doesn’t matter one bit that other supercars have exceeded the R8’s power output, this is now a rarer and richer experience in the motoring world – and for me, at least that’s worth more. I’m telling you right now, that V10 will steal your heart.

Like all performance Audis, what the R8 does so well is making performance and exhilaration accessible to the average person. Most people aren’t Frank Biela or Tom Kristensen, most people are Nigel or Lauren or Dave. They’ve done well for themselves and fancy something a bit special, only the hardest of hardcore fume-sniffing nutters want something that challenges them to the extent they’re scared on a public road. Many self-confessed ‘experts’ say they’d like to be in a cage with a tiger, but how many of them would change their mind when that beast looks them in the eye? What makes the R8 so enjoyable is that it can go with you through levels of progress. If you’re a novice, you’ll be just as excited by what the R8 can do as the expert who does track days.

At a few quid over £107,000, the RWS is the entry-level R8 and it is phenomenal value for money. For that, you get a supercar you can use every day with sensational performance, exceptional overall quality and yes, that V10. For what it is, the price is really rather remarkable.

I’ve driven R8s a few times now. I’ve taken them across the UK, on motorways, A-roads, B-roads, I even drove this particular car through a ford and down country lanes. It never feels out of its depth, whether driven in anger down your favourite roads or pottering along on a busy motorway. It’s comfortable, it’s well-equipped, and it never ceases to feel special.

If the rumours are true, the R8 series isn’t long for the world. It could well be that this is your last chance to get your hands on a car that, one day, we will all look back on and appreciate a lot more than we do today. It’s not an Italian supercar, sure, but does that mean it isn’t special? No, it bloody well doesn’t. This is a true masterpiece and we’re all going to miss it when it’s gone – whether we bought one in time or not.