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Audi R8 RWS Slides Sideways Into Jay Leno's Garage

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Quattro who now?

The Audi R8 goes with all-wheel drive like gin goes with tonic or peanut butter goes with chocolate. The German supercar was, after all, developed by Quattro GmbH (as Audi's performance division was then known) – the same name that the company applies to its four-wheel traction system. But Ingolstadt has been known to yank the front driveshaft from its mid-engined model – albeit only offering the result in limited quantities. And that's just what Jay Leno had by his garage for this latest episode.

Revealed in Frankfurt last year, the R8 RWS – shorthand for Rear Wheel Series – is geared towards purists who like their sports cars light with a side of tail-sliding antics. Given that the R8 LMS racer is also restricted to using just its rear wheels, that makes the RWS arguably the closest thing that Audi offers to a racecar for the road.

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It packs the same 5.2-liter V10 engine – naturally aspirated with no turbos, superchargers, or hybrid assist – as the standard R8, but kicks its 533 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to the rear wheels alone. Without the extra driveshaft, it's a good hundred pounds lighter than the Quattro version. But without the benefit of four driven wheels, it takes a little longer to get to 62 – 3.7 seconds for the RWS, compared to 3.5 for the Quattro version or 3.2 for the more powerful V10 Plus. Audi's only making 999 examples, of which 320 will be offered in America. That makes it something of a rarity, so this may be about as close as most of us will ever get to one.