TodayApril 15, 2022

2021 Audi R8 Coupe RWD and Spyder here to stay

Finally, Audi brings the R8 RWD to life

  • R8 Coupe and Spyder with the rear-wheel-drive now a permanent addition to the R8 model line
  • Additional personalization offered through an Interior design package for the R8 V10 performance models
  • The same high-revving 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V10 engine powers both rear-wheel-drive and Quattro variants

From a limited series to a permanent addition, the R8 rear-wheel-drive Coupe and Spyder become the R8 model line’s newest members, joining the R8 V10 performance Quattro Coupe and Spyder for the 2021 model year.

Exterior design

The character of the R8 models carries over the sharpened design enhancements for the 2021 model year. The Singleframe grille features the honeycomb design with an R8 badge. On the R8 V10 performance models, the lower trim is finished in matte Titanium color, with an option to select carbon fiber. The sideblades, mirror housings, and rear spoiler of the R8 V10 performance model are finished in carbon. At the rear of the vehicle, the dominant diffuser frames the sport exhaust with black oval tailpipes.

The V10 performance models come standard equipped with 20-inch 5-double-spoke-dynamic design milled cut wheels in titanium finish, with an option to change the color to anthracite finish. The ceramic brake calipers are available in red or blue, along with the standard gray finish. The available carbon fiber front sway bar saves 2 kg (4.4 lb.) of weight.

For the RWD, unique design elements hint at the model’s special status. The front blade, the side sill inserts, and the rear diffuser are painted in high-gloss black as standard. The sideblades are finished in Mythos black, and the rear exhaust tips are finished in chrome.

Additional exterior elements include:

  • Standard LED headlights and LED taillights with dynamic turn signals for all R8 models.
  • Audi laser light is standard on V10 performance models and available for RWD variants. The laser module, which is active at speeds of 40 mph and above (when conditions permit), supplements the LED high beam and is designed to enhance the driver’s visibility by projecting a low and wide beam of light on the road ahead.
  • As an option, the Audi rings and logo can be painted in high-gloss black on R8 V10 performance models.
  • For RWD models, an available carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades.
    Interior design

Sporty features continue inside the V10 performance variants, where the driver-oriented interior features standard racing shell seats with manual adjustment and an Alcantara® headliner (Coupe only). The three-spoke multifunction flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles includes four steering wheel-mounted satellite buttons – engine Start/Stop, Audi drive select, Performance Mode selector, and Sport exhaust. The Audi virtual cockpit, Audi phone box with a signal booster, and the MMI navigation plus come standard.

A new interior design package is available for the R8 V10 performance models:

The R8 performance design package adds Mercato blue diamond contrast stitch to the standard racing shell seats. They are finished with leather, and Alcantara Mercato blue contrast stitching extends to the included full leather package, Alcantara steering wheel, and floor mats. The shift lever is finished in black Alcantara with a leather boot contrast stitched in Mercato blue. The included blue ceramic brake calipers tie the exterior of the car to the interior package.

Inside the RWD model, standard 14-way power sport seats are appointed in Fine Nappa leather seating surfaces. The Premium package offers 18-way adjustable power seats with pneumatic side and leg bolsters, an Alcantara headliner, the extended leather package encasing the center console and door armrests in premium leather, the 550 watt Bang & Olufsen sound system featuring 13 individual surrounding speakers, as well as illuminated door sill inlays.

Available interior design packages for the R8 RWD models include:

  • The available carbon interior package adds carbon-fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents.
  • The available diamond stitch full leather package, which requires the Premium package, adds diamond stitching to the Alcantara® headliner and seats.
  • Top-down driving experience for both the RWD and Quattro all-wheel-drive models

The soft-top in both R8 Spyder models features an electrohydraulic drive system to raise and lower the roof in about 20 seconds, at speeds of up to 31 mph. The roof was developed with lightweight construction in mind and weighs only 97 pounds, helping to keep the vehicle’s weight and center of gravity low. It can easily be opened or closed by operating the soft-top button in the center console.

When opened, the soft top folds into a flat storage compartment over the engine. With the top up, the rear power window blocks the wind or can be opened to allow the naturally aspirated V10 engine’s rich sound to flow into the vehicle cockpit.

The powertrain for R8 V10 performance Quattro models

With the same naturally aspirated V10 engine block found in the R8 LMS racecar, the R8 is the pinnacle of Audi’s performance, with no other model bearing a closer tie to racing. The seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission can shift gears in as little as 120 ms. The R8 V10 performance generates 602 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque and catapults from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds for the Coupe (3.3 seconds for the Spyder), with a top track speed of 205 mph (204 mph for the Spyder).

Available Audi dynamic steering offers a variable steering ratio that adjusts based on vehicle speed and the Audi drive select setting. At higher driving speeds, a less direct steering ratio helps to facilitate a more stable drive. A more direct steering ratio is utilized at lower driving speeds to help increase steering response for easier maneuvering.

Specially tuned chassis allows for rear-wheel-drive application.

Like the R8 V10 performance, the R8 RWD features a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter FSI V10 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. The R8 RWD will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds for the Coupe (3.7 for the Spyder), with a top track speed of 201 mph (200 mph for the Spyder). The R8 RWD weighs less than its all-wheel-drive counterpart due in part to the loss of components such as the prop shaft, front axles, multi-plate clutch, and front differential.

The R8 RWD chassis has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber. The electromechanical power steering – free of torque steer – enables precise handling and driver feedback. For a heightened driving experience, the driver can choose the “dynamic” mode in the standard Audi drive select and set the Stabilization Control ESC to “sport.””

Each generation of the R8 brings to the road know-how acquired on the racetrack and from the legacy of Audi endurance racing. The 2021 R8 V10 performance and R8 V10 RWD Coupe and Spyder will be available in dealerships in winter 2020.

2021 Audi R8 Models and pricing:

2021 Audi R8 V10 Coupe RWD

2021 Audi R8 V10 Spyder RWD

2021 Audi R8 V10 performance Coupe Quattro

2021 Audi R8 V10 performance Spyder Quattro

Prices exclude $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax ($2,100 gas guzzler tax on performance models), sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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