The Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracán could both get new engine options that would see their cylinder counts cut in half. According to new reports, the twin-charged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine recently introduced in the 2015 Audi TT Clubsport Turbo concept at Wörthersee might eventually make its way into both the R8 and Huracán supercars.

Audi has already confirmed the second-generation R8 will not get a V-8, but Audi technical development board member Ulrich Hackenberg recently suggested to Car and Driver that a smaller, boosted engine is needed to hit sales targets in China and other parts of Asia. Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann made similar suggestions, citing tax laws in Asia that significantly increase the cost of cars with big V-10s and even V-8s.

China’s new car tax laws include an annual nine-percent tax on cars with engine capacities over 2.0 liters. That’s manageable, but it ramps up exponentially after that. Cars with engines larger than 4.0 liters get slapped with a 40 percent tax, which puts Audi’s 4.0-liter V-8 in the same tax bracket as its V-10, making the V-8 pretty much a pointless option for that market.

“There are questions of the stability of the tax laws, questions of how much additional volume it would give us, questions of timing, questions of complexity, and questions of whether people in those countries even want us to do it,” Audi Quattro boss Stephan Reil told Car and Driver. “We haven’t yet [started engineering a car like that]. But it has been talked about.”

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Why it matters

Audi has repeatedly shot down any speculation about a smaller engine option for the R8, but as we’ve seen in the past, car companies will do just about anything (Lotus SUV?) to get a chunk of the Chinese market. The twin-charged 2.5-liter in the Audi TT Clubsport concept is a fully functional engine that will likely appear in a production car sometime soon. Whether or not its used in the R8 and/or Huracán mostly depends on how badly the Volkswagen Group wants to sell supercars in China.

2015 Audi TT Clubsport Technology Concept

2015 Audi TT Clubsport Turbo Technology Concept
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With 600 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque (at least in its Audi TT Clubsport Turbo state of tune) the new five-cylinder seems like an obvious solution, though power will likely be reigned in so as not to infringe on the territory of the 540 horsepower R8 and 610 horsepower R8 Plus. But, a five-cylinder would create a tidy historic link with the original Audi Quattro, which also had five-cylinder.

Because the compressor’s speed is governed by an electric motor instead of engine speed, it can produce maximum boost much lower in the rev range.

The new 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine incorporates both a conventional turbocharger and an electric compressor (German for supercharger). Because the compressor’s speed is governed by an electric motor instead of engine speed, it can produce maximum boost much lower in the rev range. This eliminates the lag that would otherwise be created by the big turbocharger, which is calibrated to do its best work higher in the rev range.

The primary drawback to this technology is weight. Audi Quattro GmbH boss Heinz Peter Hollerweger says the electric supercharger currently requires a 48-volt electrical system and a lithium ion battery pack. Both are heavy and expensive, so the technology could be put on hold until a light, cheaper solution is found.

It won’t be the first time the Volkswagen Group has sold cars with twin-charged engines. Introduced in 2006, the Golf GT used a 1.4-liter four-cylinder boosted by both a low-rpm belt-driven supercharger and high-rpm turbo.

Read our full review here.

2016 Audi R8

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review here.

2015 Lamborghini Huracan

2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review here.

Source: CarAndDriver

James Wolfcale
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