Audi will introduce a more affordable, entry-level R8 globally that'll be powered by a V6 engine, as part of a model facelift later this year.
Using a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol unit that's shared with the Porsche Panamera and Audi RS4 and RS5, the model will extend the reach of the R8 in the sportscar segment, and, in effect, fills the void left by Audi’s older, naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 petrol engine.
The six-pot engine has been developed in a joint venture between Audi and Porsche and is part of a new modular engine family known under the working title of KoVoMo.
Audi hasn't offered a V8 with the second-gen R8 because of what Ingolstadt officials describe as a combination of the high cost of updating it to meet future emissions standards and concerns in markets such as China, where road tax is linked to engine capacity.
In the latest Panamera 4S, the V6 delivers 440hp at 5,650rpm and 549Nm of torque between 1,750rpm and 5,500rpm. With subtle tweaks, including greater boost, on the R8 is it claimed to offer more than 507hp and up to 670Nm, but Audi is yet to confirm the output. Audi officials, however, told our sister publication Autocar UK that the unit will come with more than one power output.
One example of Audi's desire to extend the R8's reach is the recent launch of a rear-wheel-drive version of the V10 model, the R8 RWS. Whether the V6 R8 will adopt an entry-level rear-wheel-drive version has yet to be revealed; Audi might choose not to offer such a low-cost version to retain a certain level of exclusivity for the R8.
Despite sharing a layout and the number of cylinders, this 2.9-litre engine differs in capacity from the 3.0-litre V6 recently launched by Audi in the new S4 that was also developed by the joint venture. Further differentiation is found in the induction system, with the S4’s engine using a single twin-scroll turbocharger and the 2.9-litre version getting twin turbochargers.
The only visual cues to differentiate the V6 model from its V10 sibling, according to spotted development cars, are smaller exhaust baffles hidden behind the rear grilles. The former has been made possible due to the V6's lower volume.
The most recently spotted test car was seen using a V10, and the camouflage on the bumpers suggests the aesthetic changes will be focused there.