The long-awaited replacement for the V8-engined R8 should soon be upon us…
So apparently there’s no let up in the Audi Sport development schedule. Earlier in the week we had spy shots of the RS Q8 and new RS6 testing, now it’s the turn of the facelifted R8. The big news here – according to our chums at the Autocar – is that the manufacturer has taken up the option of installing the twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 from the RS4/5 in the car, thereby creating an entry-level replacement for the old V8 model.
The business case for such an R8 is self evident. The current version, available exclusively with the 5.2-litre V10, is over £110k even in its cheaper-to-buy RWS format. It is also fabulously expensive to run and emits a carefree 283g/km CO2 (309g/km if you have it as a Spyder with the higher output). With a V6 dropped in the middle, you could expect a sub six-figure price tag, much cheaper running costs and (for some markets, at least) less expensive taxation, too.
On paper, performance is unlikely to be an issue either. So far we’ve seen 450hp from the new 2.9-litre unit – but its potential is likely to be much greater. Already the idea of 500hp and 500lb ft of torque have been mooted for the R8, which would mean it eclipsing the peak twist produced by even the Plus-grade V10. Obviously it would be lighter, too – and that virtue certainly helped the V8’s case when measured against big brother.
Nevertheless, extended comparison with the old eight-cylinder model is probably not helpful. The combination of Audi’s naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre unit and its famously metal-gated manual transmission lived long in the memory, and is unlikely to be exceeded by the auto-box equipped V6, no matter how thrusting it turns out to. Instead, as with the latest RS4/5, we’ll probably have to get used it being a modestly different kettle of fish. That doesn’t mean it won’t be exceptional in its own right, of course – or better than, say, a £102k Mercedes AMG GT. Which is obviously the point.