Audi is working on a facelifted version of its R8
Spotted here testing in Germany, the car is due with two powertrain options
The current car's V10 will be retained, as in this spotted test car...
...but a new V6 option will be added to create a new entry-level model
The 2.9-litre unit is shared with the Porsche Panamera
It could produce in excess of 500bhp
Audi's current entry R8, the RWS, costs from £112,450...
...suggesting a V6 model could be priced from well under £100,000
This would extend the R8's reach into the sports car segment
The new V6 engine, as featured in the RS4 and RS5
Using a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol unit, shared with the Porsche Panamera, Audi RS4 and RS5, the model will extend the R8's reach deeper into the sports car segment and effectively fills the void left by Audi’s older, naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 petrol engine.
The six-pot powerplant is a 90deg engine that has been developed in a joint venture by Audi and Porsche as part of a new modular engine family known under the working title KoVoMo.
Audi has not offered a V8 with the Mk2 R8 because of what Ingolstadt officials describe as a combination of the high costs 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 new V6 engine delivers 434bhp at 5650rpm and 405lb ft of torque between 1750rpm and 5500rpm when running a relatively low 0.4bar of turbocharger boost pressure.
With subtle tweaks, including greater boost, the joint-venture engine is claimed to offer more than 500bhp and up to 500lb ft, although it has yet to be confirmed what output Audi has settled on for its quartet of new performance models. Audi officials have told Autocar that the V6 unit will come with more than one power output.
An example of Audi's desire to extend the R8's reach has come recently with the launch of a rear-wheel drive version of the V10 model, called the R8 RWS. Whether the R8 V6 will adopt a base-level rear-wheel drive version is yet to be revealed; the brand may choose not to offer such a low-cost version to retain a certain level of exclusivity with the R8. The RWS starts at £112,450 suggesting the V6 model could bring the cost well below the £100,000 mark.
Despite sharing a layout and number of cylinders, the new 2.9-litre engine differs in capacity from the slightly larger, 3.0-litre version of the joint-venture V6 recently launched by Audi in the new S4.
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 the spotted development car, will be 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 is running with a V10 (above). The fitment of camouflage on the bumpers suggests the aesthetic changes will be focused there.