Rumors of a turbocharged Audi R8 are resurfacing, this time with more details. Reportedly the entry level R8 will get a much smaller powertrain than both the old 4.2-liter V8 and the new 5.2-liter V10.
Due in 2-3 years, the new “starter R8” will use a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with around 450 horsepower. While that’s significantly less than the current 540 HP R8 V10, it’s a good bit more pep than the old 4.2-liter V8’s 414 horses.
The move to downsize and turbocharge motors has become commonplace among performance automakers. Porsche will turbocharge almost its entire 911 lineup within the next couple years and even Bentley has put twin-turbocharged V8’s on offer as an alternative to the classic W12.
Related: 2016 Audi R8 V10 Plus First Drive
Improvements in turbocharger engineering have rendered power delays almost negligible and have opened up a world of performance and efficiency gains for automakers who must stretch to meet more stringent fuel consumption and CO2 emissions regulations. An added bonus is that more sales can be made in China where massive vehicle taxes are levied on large-engined cars.
Audi’s V10 will likely remain in rotation for several more years, but output (presently at 610 HP for the R8 V10 Plus) will likely level off and instead weight reduction from lighter compound construction materials will be employed to improve performance over time.
Elsewhere in Audi’s lineup, we can expect to see smaller turbocharged motors trickle into performance models like the S4 and RS4.