► Audi drops 4.2-litre V8 in entry R8
► 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 likely
► Blame downsizing for China
It’s sad news for V8 fans; Audi has decided that the entry-level R8 will no longer feature that naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 that wowed us so much when the aluminium supercar first launched.
Rumours coming out of Ingolstadt suggest that a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 putting out around 450bhp will replace the high-revving big-block V8. That's a chunky jump over the Mk1 R8's 414bhp at launch. Audi's move is in keeping with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche, which are both busy adopting turbocharged engines for their sports cars.
So sad... Why can’t we keep the soulful Audi R8 V8?
Time for a quick history lesson. Back in 2008, the Chinese government observed that sales of vehicles imported with engine displacements over three litres were growing at an alarming rate. In order to promote home-grown cars, large-capacity imports attracted draconian taxes, with harsher tax breaks at 3.0 and 4.0 litres.
It's one of the reasons so many big-cubes engines have bitten the dust. Mercedes-Benz, for example, dropped its nat-asp 6.2-litre AMG V8 engine for a smaller 4.0-litre with added turbos to make up the power deficit. And now Audi's proposed V6 R8 is waiting in the wings - with a displacement just nudging under the Chinese tax threshold...
The end of an era
Essentially it is, as we bid the famous 4.2-litre V8 made famous by the R8 and certain RS4 models farewell. But take heart: naturally aspirated fans will be happy to know that the R8 V10 supercar will remain untouched by turbocharging. Phew!