While Audi has made it crystal clear it won’t downsize to a V6 engine for an entry-level version of the R8 supercar, the rumor simply won’t die. A new report coming from Autocar suggests the bi-turbo 2.9-liter of the RS4 Avant, RS5 Coupe / Sportback, and the Porsche Panamera 4S will indeed allow Audi to offer a more affordable R8 and we’ll have to thank China for that.
The People’s Republic wants one because over there road tax is linked to the engine’s capacity, much like in other countries. With the naturally aspirated V10 being a 5.2-liter mill, it makes the R8 a very expensive purchase, which is why Audi wants to increase sales of the supercar by offering a much smaller powertrain.
The new base R8 will fulfill the role of the previous-generation 4.2-liter V8 model and is expected to produce more than the 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet (600 Newton-meters) of torque available in the aforementioned two RS models. In the Panamera 4S, it’s good for 434 hp and 405 lb-ft (550 Nm). The good news is Autocar has learned from sources within Audi the engine can be massaged to push out in excess of 500 hp and as much as 500 lb-ft (678 Nm) and allegedly there are multiple stages of tune being prepared.
That being said, it’s not known at this point how much power it will deliver in the long-rumored R8 V6, but obviously it won’t step on the toes of the base V10 model and its 532-hp output. Another piece of the puzzle concerns the possible availability of a rear-wheel-drive version in the same vein as the V10 RWS. If a tail-happy R8 V6 will get the green light, it will be even cheaper than the equivalent six-cylinder Quattro flavor.
Audi is expected to introduce the entry-level model later this year together with the R8’s mid-cycle refresh. We’ll believe it when we’ll see it…