Now may be the time for budget-conscious Audi R8 Coupe and Spyder lovers to take the leap into their dream cars. The automaker just announced that rear-wheel drive (RWD) versions of both are permanent editions to the lineup beginning with the 2021 model year. The RWD models lack some of the charisma you find on the higher-end quattro models, most notably a drop of 70 points in horsepower and slightly less torque.
2021 Audi R8 RWD: Engine & Powertrain
Still, RWD models have the same 5.2-liter V10 and seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission as the quattro versions. The naturally aspirated engine generates 532 horsepower and 398 lb-ft. of torque (602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft. of torque for the quattro). Plus, Audi engineered the RWD models to sprint. The Coupe goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and has a top track speed of 201 mph. The Spyder clocks in at 3.7 seconds and has a top track speed of 204 mph.
That’s solid performance for RWD models despite the drop in power output. Audi credits much of it to the weight loss from dropping the all-wheel drive components, including the prop shaft, front axles, multi-plate clutch, and front differential. Still, you may be disappointed in the dip in performance combined with making some Audi niceties, including laser lights and high-gloss cabin surrounds, optional on the RWD.
However, what won’t disappoint you is the price.
2021 Audi R8 RWD: Pricing & Availability
The suggested MSRP for the 2021 Audi R8 V10 Coupe RWD is $142,700. The performance Coupe quattro is $196,700 by comparison. The suggested MSRP for the Audi R8 V10 Spyder RWD is $154,000. Its performance/quattro counterpart has a suggested MSRP of $208,900.
You can buy a lot of options with those savings. For example, RWD models have an available carbon exterior package that adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment. The carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents. The premium package includes 18-way adjustable power seats with pneumatic side and leg bolsters, an Alcantara headliner, and a 550-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with 13 speakers.
No matter what model you choose, you pay a $1,495 destination charge and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax ($2,100 gas guzzler tax on performance models). For more information on Audi’s warranty, and to determine whether or not you need more, please see our comprehensive guide.
Nancy Dunham is a life-long journalist whose work appears in many national automotive and general interest magazines and accompanying websites. Her dad was an executive with Western Auto Supply Co. (sold to Sears), so the smell of tires still brings back a flood of childhood memories. Favorite professional assignment: driving on the Texas Motor Speedway. She lives in Austin, Texas with her cat Prudence.