We’ve all heard recent reports that the new Audi R8 might receive a turbocharged engine option within this its life cycle. Some of us enthusiasts have bemoaning this fact, as the R8 is one of the last naturally aspirated supercars on the market. Plus, turbocharging might take away some of the character that embodies the incredibly exciting R8. However, turbocharging might not be such a bad thing after all.
Recent reports have shown that the Audi R8 is lacking in the sales department because of the lack of entry-level version. As Audi’s halo car, the R8 Plus costs on the wrong side of $200,000. But its lower costing option, the standard R8 costs around $180,000. All of the other Germans have their top-of-the-line sports cars priced to start at around the $100,000 range. The Porsche 911 starts in the low $90,000 range, the BMW i8 is $136,000 and the Mercedes AMG GT is $129,000. So if you want an entry-level German high-performance car, Audi isn’t in the cards for you.
This is a problem for the R8, as cars like the 911 have always been its Achilles Heel. For the same price as an R8, you can get a Porsche 911 Turbo 4S, which is faster, more comfortable and has back seats. Or you can get a Porsche 911 GT3 which handles better. So it’s just the excitement factor of the mid-mounted V10 that brings people to the Four Rings at that price range. However, if there was a model far cheaper with a smaller turbocharged engine that was just a bit slower but equally as exciting, the R8 could steal some sales back from entry-level Porsches and BMWs.
The problem is coming up with a turbocharged engine that can maintain the excitement factor of the V10. Turbocharged engines are often much quieter and have lower redlines than naturally aspirated engines. This makes them less exciting, generally speaking. However, there are some interesting blown engines that Audi has which can give the R8 the needed thrill as well as the needed oomph.
The 4.0 TFSI engine that Audi currently uses in all of its RS models is a spectacular motor. It revs high for a twin-turbo V8, its mighty powerful and makes a good noise. The downside is that the R8 was not designed to fit that engine. So it may not be compatible. Another alternative is the 2.5 liter electrically turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine found in the RS3 and previous TT-RS. This engine has been made to develop almost 600 hp in the Audi TT Clubsport Concept. It also makes a gnarly 5-cylinder growl that should provide the character needed for the R8.
Which ever turbo engine Audi chooses, or if a new engine is developed, making it an entry level model is a good idea. Despite my lack of desire for a turbo’d R8, this does make perfect sense. It gives the public a way to have an R8 without having to spend Ferrari money on it. This way, Audi will have a true competitor to the Porsche 911, in all of its price ranges.