NEW YORK, New York — Alongside the RS 5 Sportback, Audi Sport had another North American debut at the 2018 New York Auto Show: The rear-wheel-drive version of the Audi R8, which we first saw at the Frankfurt show last September. We talked to product manager Anthony Garbis about this new R8 variant and came away with six things you need to know.
1. This is the first rear-wheel-drive Audi sold in the United States.
There have been front-drive Audis, and of course there have been all-wheel-drive Audis, but we’ve never had a rear-drive Audi available to us in the U.S. (And as far as we can tell, aside from a prototype Audi 100 developed with Porsche in the early 1970s, this is the first rear-drive Audi since World War II.)
2. Now we know how much Quattro weighs.
Dropping the all-wheel-drive system shaves 110 pounds from the R8’s curb weight.
3. The R8s engine is the last of a dying breed…
Garbis pointed out that the naturally-aspirated supercar engine is nearly extinct, with most of the R8’s competitors turning to turbocharged mills. “Nothing drives like a big naturally-aspirated motor,” he said. “The redline of the V10 is 8,700 rpm and the noise is incredible.”
4. …and that isn’t going to change.
Garbis says Audi is committed to the R8’s naturally-aspirated engine. “R8 is V10 and V10 is R8,” he says.
5. If you buy one, your choices will be limited.
Along with the elimination of Quattro, the minimalist R8 will be offered with limited color choices and only three option packages.
6. If you want one, you’d better get it in gear.
Audi plans to sell just 320 of the 999 RWD R8s in the U.S. Half are already spoken for, and with the car now on display in New York, Garbis expects the rest to sell out quickly.