Frankfurt LIVE: Audi R8 V10 RWS

A 10-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive R8 is on the way.

Audi's Quattro division recently changed its name to Audi Sport in order to offer rear-wheel drive models. The first is here: This the the Audi R8 V10 RWS (Rear Wheel Series). The coupe displayed here will soon be joined by a Spyder variant as well.

A brief teaser video published on Audi Sport's official Instagram account showed the brand's mid-engined sports car doing donuts in a parking garage, but this serves as official confirmation of Audi's move away from exclusively quattro-based performance products.

Exclusivity is still the name of the game for this new model, however, as it will be produced only in limited quantities. Only 999 will be made available worldwide.

"The R8 V10 RWS is made for purists,” said Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport GmbH, in the announcement. "A limited-edition special model for customers with an appreciation for essential driving enjoyment, the R8 V10 RWS is an absolutely exclusive offer. With its mid-mounted V10 engine and rear-wheel drive, it successfully brings the driving concept of our R8 LMS racing car to the streets.”

We question the use of the word "purists" here, given tha Audi has built its racing heritage (and not to mention its brand) on being the alternative to traditional rear-wheel-drive performance cars. Short of perhaps Subaru enthusiasts, Audi aficionados are about as die-hard as all-wheel-drive fans come.

That said, it's difficult to argue with this R8 variant's spec sheet. The 5.2L V10 carries over from the quattro model, producing 540 horsepower and 398lb-ft of torque. Audi claims the Coupe will do 0-62 in 3.7 seconds; the eventual Spyder will do it in 3.8. For those keeping score, these times are roughly a half-second slower than those advertised by Audi for its all-wheel-drive models.

What's the payoff? Audi claims the Coupe model is 110 pounds lighter, for starters (the Spyder sheds only 90-ish) and the chassis has bee re-tuned to account for the rear-only power delivery. "Dynamic" mode in drive select will even allow for controlled drifts.

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