Rumor has it that the new-for-2016 Audi R8 super car will be ditching its old-school V8 option for a more advanced, turbocharged V6 option as early as next year. Reports seem to indicate that, if and when it arrives, the new V6 is expected to displace just 2.9 liters, but deliver some 450 HP to the Audi R8’s all-wheel drive system. That’s a fair bump from the current V8’s 414 HP!
It’s hard to say if it’s because of the car’s LeMans-winning heritage, diesel-powered performance, all-electric coolness, or just good looks in general- but you can’t argue that the Audi R8 is a perennial favorite at Gas 2 and Cleantechnica. Despite the car’s lightweight aluminum body and progressive powertrain options overseas, however, the US market never got the diesel or electric versions of the car- and was forced, instead, to make due with either an uninspired 4.2 liter V8 or over-the-top 5.2 liter, Lamborghini-derived V10.
The move to a turbo 6 brings the 2016 Audi R8 more in-line with the current state of the automotive art, as well, since high-performance, turbocharged V6 engines are now being found in GTR Nissans, 997 Porsches, and even a few super-fast Mercedes models, here and there. The move makes sense, since this type of engine is usually more fuel efficient and emissions-friendly than naturally aspirated V8s. As big as the environmental gains are, however, there’s another big reason to ditch the V8: China.
The real push towards a turbo 6 could be China. China is one of the most important luxury car markets in the world right now. Because it’s so polluted, however, it’s also a market that harshly punishes polluters and taxes gas-burning engines of more than 3.0 liters. Avoiding those taxes- and keeping the price of the new Audi R8 in China reasonable!- is the name of the game, here.