Audi isn’t super well known for building famously great engines. Many of its competitors; BMW, Mercedes-AMG, and even Lexus; have more prestigious reputations for creating incredible combustion engines. However, Audi is sneakily good at making piston engines and has made some of the best engines in the world over the past few decades. So let’s take a look at some to see which is best.
B7 RS4/R8 V8 — 4.2 Liter V8
One of the very best internal combustion engines to ever wear four rings has to be the 4.2 liter V8 that powered the B7-generation Audi RS4 and the first-gen Audi R8 V8. Sure, it had its timing chain issues but that was more with the tensioners than the chain itself and the problem was mostly due to the layout, as it required the engine to be pulled to remedy the issue. Still, timing chain issues aside, the 4.2 V8 was a brilliant piece of kit. It made plenty of power; 420 horsepower in the R8; and revved to 8,250 rpm, making the most fantastic V8 noise along the way.
TT RS/RS3 — 2.5 Liter Five-Cylinder
Potentially Audi’s most famous engine is the turbocharged five-cylinder. While Audi has made a few great five-pots over the years, this newest one is the best of them. It makes the most power, revs better than all other five-cylinders before it, and makes the best noise. Unfortunately, it’s on its way out, as this gen Audi RS3 and TT RS will be the last Audis to use it.
Audi R8 — 5.2 Liter V10
Audi’s most exciting engine is probably the one that powers the current R8 — a 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 engine that revs past 8,000 rpm and makes over 600 horsepower in its top spec. More important than its spec sheet, though, is its manners. Without any turbochargers or superchargers to ruin the fun, the atmospheric V10 makes the most incredible internal combustion music, the sort that sends shivers down your spine. It revs high and fast, with razor sharp throttle response and a smooth delivery. It’s the sort of engine that enthusiasts will talk about for decades, after the industry shifts entirely to electrification.
Those are likely the best engines in Audi’s history but which one is the very best? If I had to choose, it’d be the R8’s V10. It’s combination of power, revs, and noise makes it the most enjoyable engine I’ve personally ever used, of any kind. So it has to be the one for me. Which do you think is best?