Last week, we wrote what appeared to be an obituary for Audi’s 4.
2-liter V-8, the 450-hp delight that wails like it’s lapping a DTM circuit. But while this naturally aspirated gem will be swapped for a turbo V-6 in the next RS4, rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.
From our ears inside Audi, the next-gen R8—due out next year after the debut of its platform mate, the Lamborghini Huracán—will keep this V-8 in its current form, tuned to deliver slightly more power than the 430-hp version in the 2014 model. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, fearsome as it is in the new RS7, is apparently too difficult to properly cool in a mid-engine configuration, especially with its turbos mounted inboard.
Audi also doesn’t want the R8 looking soft alongside the new Lambo. Specifically, we were told a turbocharged engine, no matter how fast the turbines spool, would dull the R8’s throttle response and muffle the exhaust too much, both of which go against the R8’s mission as a top-tier exotic car. And there are corporate considerations, too. Just as Porsche doesn’t want the Cayman out-whooping the 911, Audi wants to keep the base R8 comfortably below the V-10 model (which, of course, must stay a few ticks behind the Huracán). That means the RS7’s mighty 560-hp V-8—even if it did show up—would be muzzled enough to render any power advantage over the current V-8 moot. The R8’s 5.2-liter V-10 will return with another modest ratings bump.
To paraphrase our source: Optimizing fuel economy and lowering emissions are key metrics for other Audis such as the RS4, but they’re not what the R8 is all about. Somebody tap a mini keg of Warsteiner, we’re in celebratory tears.