Audi Considers Entry-Level R8 With Five-Cylinder Turbo
The second-generation Audi R8 is going to get an entry-level model after all. That’s the word coming out of Auto Express, who reported that Ingolstadt is considering a turbocharged five-cylinder engine on its resident supercar to complement the two V-10 versions that’s already out on the market.
If there’s any weight to these rumors, the five-cylinder turbo-powered R8 would take the place of the V-8 versions from the first generation model as the model’s entry-level offering. The five-cylinder engine already powers the current Audi RS3, but it could reengineered for the R8 to help increase its output numbers. Equally important is the possibility of a hybrid system that might also be part of the mix.
Let’s say that this plan does push forward. The current output of the RS3’s turbo packed, five-cylinder engine sits at 362 horsepower. Meanwhile, the hybrid system could, in theory, pack around 100 horsepower, essentially bringing the output up to the 460- to 480-horsepower range. That would slot the five-cylinder R8 below the existing 540-horsepower R8 V10 and the 610-horsepower R8 V10 Plus.
Obviously, Audi has yet to confirm this rumor, so take it for what it’s worth. It makes some sense on a number of levels, not the least of which is that it creates a clear hierarchy in the R8 family. The V10 Plus will still sit as the range-topping version while the five-cylinder turbo hybrid would slot in nicely as the entry level version. The V10 would then be identified as the middle version or the bridge between the five-cylinder turbo hybrid and the V10 Plus.
In the event that Audi does green light this entry level version, don’t expect to see it anytime soon. The conservative estimate would be for it to arrive in two to three years since Audi engineers are still tied up with the development of the R8 Spyder and the R8 e-tron — the electric version of the car. These two models are likely to be launched before the five-cylinder turbo version.
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Why it matters
The lack of any engine choices was one of my biggest concerns with the Audi R8. I understood where Audi stood on the matter. It wanted to turn the R8 into a fully fledged supercar that can rightfully compete with the Ferraris and the McLarens of the world. The two V10 versions of the R8 achieved that purpose, but I thought it came at the expense of buyers who would find themselves priced out of the supercar.
Remember, the first generation R8 started at a price that was slightly north of $100,000. Now, the cheaper of the two versions, the R8 V10, is closer to $200,000. That’s a big jump in pricing that in my mind needed to be at least be addressed.
Having a five-cylinder, “entry-level” R8 addresses that and I’m glad to see Audi understand that there are still customers who can afford the R8 in $100,000 price range who might have otherwise been spooked out of spending almost double of that number just to own the second-generation supercar.
It’s easy sometimes to look too far ahead knowing the greener pastures that are waiting. Hopefully, the five-cylinder Audi R8 comes to fruition. Otherwise, Audi might alienate a chunk of its customers, a lot of whom patronized the R8 in its first incarnation because they could afford it.
Read our full review on the Audi R8 here.