Audi’s RS version of the new R8 sports car won’t get the firm’s 572bhp twin-turbocharged V10 engine, as seen in the new RS6, but a new normally aspirated V10 that will run cooler than the turbo, and provide the mid-engined model with around 500bhp, and a top speed of more than 200mph.
The admission has come from Audi’s Quattro GmbH director Werner Frowein. When questioned by members of the Swedish motoring press, he admitted that the three R8 prototypes that caught fire during performance testing at the Nordschleife last year were running the blown V10 engine, and simply overheated under extreme performance conditions.
"The 580hp strong V10 will not be making it into the RS8,” said Frowein. “Instead we are currently working on a ten-cylinder with just over 500hp for the car."
So does that mean the car will use a more highly strung version of the standard S6’s 429bhp V10? It’s highly likely. The alternative would be for Audi to add another two cylinders to the standard R8’s 4.2-litre V8, but developing two separate V10 engines is expected to be ruled out for cost reasons.
Audi insiders have suggested that the RS8 will emerge earlier than is normal for an RS-badged version of an Audi model. Ingolstadt normally waits until the last few years of a model’s lifecycle to release the hottest model in the range, a tactic that buoys interest in the car, but in the R8’s case it’s expected to make an exception.
For that reason, we’d expect it to be on sale well before the end of the decade, but after the launch of the R8 Convertible.