Let's be happy that something like this still exists: a ten-cylinder with 570 hp and no turbocharging at all. The power comes from displacement and speed, and only the rear wheels are driven: Welcome to the Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD.
They are far from finished with the ten-cylinder, they promise at Audi. There is still a lot to do in the next few years. The first outing with the new Performance RWD Coupé and Spyder versions shows how much we can look forward to it. The abbreviation stands – you guessed it – for Rear Wheel Drive. Audi adds 30 hp and 10 Nm to the performance version of the mid-engine sports car – ie 570 hp and 550 Nm – and dispenses with the all-wheel drive that characterizes the brand. But the LMS GT4 racer proved that Audi with rear-wheel drive goes just as well together.
Now the Spyder is in front of us, in the pretty Ascari blue and with the hood lowered. Of course, the lack of a drive train to the front cannot be seen. The top is already folded up in the tub behind the two seats, a light breeze is blowing from the sea, 25 degrees, a touch of summer in the Canarian winter. Off we go, one press of the start button, Drive Select to Comfort, the two control knobs can be found on the steering wheel. The route pops up on the Virtual Cockpit display. It runs along a couple of pass roads in the west of the island, promisingly meandering and largely untraveled out of season.
As a convertible and coupe
The ten-cylinder is very civil and quiet for the first few kilometers, it often throws in the economy mode and operates as a five-cylinder. Then it goes up, the Select button is switched to Dynamic: dampers, dynamic steering, dual clutch transmission and accelerator step up to appeal. What happens after that, friends, we will probably miss in the not too distant future: A freely breathing naturally aspirated engine with small cylinder units, whose rated speed is just under 9,000, a transmission in which two clutches slam the drive from one gear to the next and at the same time catapult the open two-seater from one curve to the next. It is now clear: The successor to the Audi R8 will be purely electric.
The whole thing is accompanied by ten-cylinder full load howling and lusty load change firecrackers. The wind blows through your brain and you smell the sea and tropical air. Okay, the latter shouldn't apply in the Altmühltal or in the Hunsrück, for example, but everything else does. Incidentally, the steering lets you feel the unadulterated grip of the front wheels and the optional dynamic steering with superimposed gear saves you having to re-steer in the many tight corners. Turn in, bang, gas, on to the next braking point. That's how it works.
Of course, the V10 Performance RWD is also available as a coupé.This is available to try on the next morning at the Circuito Maspalomas, a winding airfield course. Audi works driver Frank Stippler is available to ensure that you can find the line quickly and not drive too slowly. He has already won a number of 24-hour races in the R8, and he warns of the deep holes in the gravel and sand off the ideal line. Well then nothing can go wrong. Frank recommends setting the ESC to "Sport" before trying your luck with the control systems completely switched off. In this mode, the tuning allows controlled slight drifts before the control intervenes to moderate them. Good to know.
60,000 euros cheaper
The circuit comes up with some surprising changes of direction, surface changes and a long straight, and it runs so close to the sea that walkers and joggers on the beach stop for a moment when one of the tango-red R8 V10 Performance coupés thundered by. The dynamic steering is also very good here, and despite the rear-heavy weight distribution and the threatening 550 Nm on the rear axle, you quickly gain confidence in the mid-engine racer.
It sticks neutrally to the line, bites into the bends very precisely and only tends to oversteer if you overdo it on the gas pedal. Or provokes careless load changes. The transmission always has the right ratio in Sport mode, even in the automatic function, but of course it's more fun to operate the non-slip shift paddles. Especially since the V10 easily has enough power to shift up earlier or to jet through the curve in higher gear.
Another lap to cool the tires and brakes, says the pit radio. Open the window and let the south wind in. The R8 with RWD makes just as harmonious an impression on this small race track as the Spyder did the day before in the mountains. And in case you're still wondering what that costs: Which makes them around 60,000 euros cheaper than the Quattro versions with 50 hp more. To ask?
With the 570 hp RWD variants, Audi offers an interesting alternative to the much more expensive R8 Quattro. The phenomenal ten-cylinder plays big, driving performance and driving dynamics fit. No less beautiful: Audi wants to continue developing and building the V10 for as long as possible.