New rear-driven R8 isn’t a sign that Audi’s performance brand is detaching from its Quattro origins
There are no plans for rear-wheel-drive variants of Audi Sport models, despite the recent introduction of the R8 V10 RWD.
The German maker changed the name of its performance arm from Audi Quattro to Audi Sport in 2016 in order to better encompass its sporty portfolio and to remove confusion with the Quattro four-wheel drive system offered on all Audis, sporty or otherwise. It was also thought to open the way for front- and rear-wheel-drive variants of RS models.
A move to rear-wheel drive would help enable lower emissions for the Audi Sport line-up, alongside introducing electrified variants, as the pressures of tightening emissions legislations are felt across the company.
However, Rolf Michl, Audi Sport’s sales and marketing boss, said: “We have used rear-wheel drive in the latest R8. But normally, Quattro is part of our heritage. It means safe, agile and competitive driving.
“I don’t hear any different views [from people] on this, even with electrified versions in the future. We’ll stay with our approach: Quattro is a major part of RS models.”
Talking about the broader future of the R8, which has long been in question, Michl said: “The R8 is one of the most important cars in our portfolio and for the entire Audi brand. It’s a real brand-shaper.”
He continued: “Audi Sport is committed to the R8, and we’re doing everything to get a concept for the future. The R8 shares much with the race car, which proves the competitiveness of the car and a clear commitment, but it has to fit future expectations and is therefore a complex decision.”
Audi Sport boss Oliver Hoffmann has previously confirmed to Automotive Daily’s exclusive partner Autocar that the next-generation R8 will be electrified, but a decision is yet to be taken on whether it will be hybrid or fully electric.
Automotive Daily also understands that Audi is leaning towards the latter option, with the R8 becoming the second electric Audi Sport model after the E-tron GT RS, which is due in the next 12 months.