The rear-wheel-drive Audi R8 has been resurrected as a regular-production model for the 2021 model year and to celebrate the model’s arrival, Audi is producing a limited-edition variant called Panther developed exclusively for the United States.
Named after the animal, not after Ford’s long-lived body-on-frame architecture, the Panther is offered only as a coupe. It wears Panther Black paint (it has a crystal effect that resembles a starlit sky), carbon fiber mirror caps, black emblems all around, and black 20-inch wheels with red accents. Summer performance tires come standard. If this specification sounds familiar, it’s probably because the RS 5 wore it first — and it looked great doing it.
Stepping inside the Panther reveals black leather upholstery with red contrast stitching on the dashboard and on the door panels, a pair of sport seats wrapped in red leather, and Alcantara on the headliner. Navigation and a Bang & Olufsen sound system with 13 speakers are among the highlights from the standard equipment list.
Audi made no mechanical modifications to the Panther, so power comes from a naturally-aspirated, 5.2-liter V10 which produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. Mounted behind the passenger compartment, it exhales through a sport exhaust, and it sends its power to the rear wheels only via a seven-speed automatic transmission. Floor it, and you’ll see 60 mph appear on the digital instrument cluster in 3.6 seconds.
Only 30 units of the R8 RWD Panther are coming our way, and they’ll be sold through select dealers starting in December 2020. Pricing starts at $186,495 including a $1,495 destination charge and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.