2022 Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD First Drive Review: Bark And Bite

There’s no need for any mystery about this: we drove the 2022 Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD above, below, and across the volcanic cliffs of Gran Canaria, and it is excellent. Anyone familiar with Audi’s side-bladed halo car should find this the least surprising news of 2021. The alphanumeric “R8” has stood for one thing since 2006, and it still does: stunningly accessible handling in a stunning package.

Reducing the workload on the front axle made the R8’s excellence playful. In our review of the R8 RWS in 2018, we wrote that the naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10 sending all its power straight downstairs to the rear axle “is not the huge departure in character from the standard R8 that you might expect. But it is even better than an all-wheel-drive R8, and that’s really saying something.” Sometimes a day, or even four years, doesn’t make any difference in the least.

Yet, for all that the R8 is, it has deserved so much more. US sales, specifically. As we whiled away hours in an R8 droptop, the question was why the R8 doesn’t have it. The answer is that so much of what the R8 does to appeal to enthusiast human nature is diluted by the its rejection of other aspects of human nature. And those other aspects, in this segment, can be equal to or more important than capability.

Quick Stats:2022 Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD
Engine:5.2-liter V10
Output:562 Horsepower / 406 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH:3.6 Seconds
Base Price:$148,700 + $1,495 Destination
As-Tested:$167,000 (est)

A Bigger Bark

First, the appeal. Taking the largest perspective, this car exists because of R8 RWD buyers beseeching Audi for more features. Audi product planners had turned the limited-edition R8 Rear Wheel Series (RWS) into the R8 Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) production car, pitching the latter as the least spendy way to gain entry to the Good Ship R8. In doing so, those planners curtailed the options list, preventing buyers from speccing the ultimate dynamic accessories. Shoppers with wallets that fat tend to bring feline temperaments to their shopping sprees – they don’t like being confronted by closed doors.2022 Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD exterior2022 Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD exterior

They told Audi they wanted an R8 RWD with access to the rest of the menu, et voila, the R8 V10 Performance RWD. The upgrade to Performance almost turns this into a slightly detuned, pusher version of the R8 V10 Performance Quattro. The makeover adds a few horsepower, taking the 5.2-liter V10 from 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque to 562 hp and 406 lb-ft.

Buyers can now check a box next to the words “Dynamic Steering” and the number “$1,400,” the adaptive rack spanning a parking-lot friendly 10.5:1 steering ratio to the 204-mph-friendly 15.3:1. Another $1,100 bolts on a CFRP front roll bar that adds a hint of stiffness while removing 4.4 pounds up front. The bar won’t be offered on the convertible. Audi figures anyone kosher with the droptop’s 120 extra pounds over the coupe isn’t trying to shave trivial sums.

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