When the second generation Audi R8 is unveiled in a few weeks time at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, it will mark the beginning of a lineup that, according to Top Gear, could include an entry-level turbocharged V-6 engine option and even rear-wheel drive, making it the first rear-wheel-drive Audi road car since the company was under the Auto Union umbrella.

Top Gear recently spoke with R8 technical lead Roland Schala at an R8 preview event at the Ascari Circuit in Spain. He divulged that Audi is currently looking at a wide range of possible R8 variants. "The production line for this new car is so flexible," said Schala, "so there’s no problem to change it, to bring different models like a Superleggera, or GT, or Clubsport variants of the new R8."

We now know the R8 will launch with two versions of the 5.2-liter V-10 also found in the Lamborghini Huracan: one with 547 horsepower and an even hotter version with a Huracan-exceeding 618 horsepower. Everyone loves V-10s, but Schala says Audi will have to look at smaller engine options to sustain the car through its life cycle. The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that currently appears in Audi’s S lineup would seem like a reasonable option, but Schala hints a turbocharged V-6 is also possible. “As low as a V-6? Maybe. The V-6 is a perfect engine for this kind of car. We have a lot of potential with the V-6, from 400bhp upwards, so it’s possible."

Schala remained tight-lipped on the possibility of drivetrain options, including manual transmissions and rear-wheel-drive, but the highly modular nature of the second-generation R8 suggests that neither are outside the realm of possibility. It’s also worth remembering that the current R8 LMS GT3 racer is rear-wheel drive and is built on the same assembly line as the road cars.

Click past the jump to read more about the new generation Audi R8.

Why it matters

Audi probably hates trying to keep up with the many sub-models Porsche has come out with for the 911 over that last few years, and they probably hate the term “911 fighter” even more, but it’s more than relevant in this case. Especially since a rear-wheel-drive, V-6-powered Audi R8 would occupy the same niche as the 911 Carrera and Carrera S.

I personally really like the idea of lowering the cost of entry for R8 ownership. The R8 has always fallen between that of the 911 and something Italian and wedge-shaped, and if done right, a less costly, simpler R8 would wind up more driveways (i.e. increase its visibility on the road) without cheapening its image.

Ideally, but also less likely, customers will be able to select exactly which components they want fitted to their R8. Rear-wheel-drive R8 with a V-6 and dual clutch transmission? Sure. All-wheel-drive, all-electric R8 E-Tron? Why not? Just save one for me with a V-10, rear-wheel drive and a gated six-speed manual.

Audi R8

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
- image 615864

Source: TopGear

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