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Which car would you swap Audi’s 600bhp race engine into?

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DTM, the German touring car racing series, is about to get faster… and sound very different. To show how progressive, eco-friendly and tech-savvy the championship is, the DTM has binned its naturally aspirated V8 engines. From 2019, each car will run 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo power.

Audi’s risen to the challenge and announced the details of its new engine. After 30 months of development and a reported 1,000 hours of static testing on the dyno (imagine the fuel bill), it’s ready. The 4cyl weighs just 85kg – half that of ye olde V8 – and yet it’s 100bhp more powerful. Official output is 602bhp, and a push-to-pass system ups the boost and gives another 30bhp, for more overtaking punch.

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So: it’s a tiny, lightweight, high-revving and rather efficient engine. And because a DTM engine is designed to last a whole season, it’s durable. The motor is lifed for over 3,700 miles – way more than most highly-strung race engines.

And that’s got us thinking. Besides the Audi Sport RS5 DTM, what would be a good home for this miniature marvel?

Here are a couple of suggestions for a fantasy engine swap, should a crate of these things wash up on your local riverbank complete with installation instructions…

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Audi R8
“You’ve gone completely mad”, you’re thinking. Why on Earth would anyone voluntarily perform a V10-ectomy on an R8, and rid the world of one of its last naturally aspirated supercars?

Well, the R8’s facing a very uncertain future right now. Getting that stupendous V10 to comply with future emissions testing is going to be nigh-on impossible without a lot of hybrid this and turbo that. That would make Audi’s entry-level supercar a lot more expensive. And it’s already less profitable than its cousin, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo.

The smart money says Audi will morph the R8 into a new e-tron flagship – a super-EV to take on the Tesla Roadster and Rimac. But just for argument’s sake, imagine slotting a 600bhp four-banger behind the seats. Same power as the V10, more torque, a new brand of angry noise and just a slither of eco-conscience.

No? Okay then. What about…

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Alfa Romeo 4C
Here’s one for the brave. The Alfa 4C’s diminutive dimensions mean only little engines fit: the standard motor was a 1.75-litre four-pot turbo with a mere 237bhp. That was plenty though, as the car’s wayward, unpredictable steering and haphazard damping made it quite enough of a handful, thank you very much.

However, in the years since the 4C ‘did a textbook Alfa’ (looked gorgeous, got us an excited, then drove like a labrador waking up from veterinary anaesthetic), things have changed.

Companies have sussed out that, with a few tweaks to the geometry and some different suspension, the 4C can be resurrected, into a properly entertaining, trustworthy sports car. Take British firm AlfaWorks. They’ve worked wonders with the 4C, and created a true Italian Lotus rival. An Alfa that, well, works.

With that chassis, and a 600bhp heart, you could have an Alfa Romeo ready to tackle a McLaren 600LT head-on. Or, you could have a massive accident. Hmm. If you decide to have a go, let us know.

Or perhaps you fancy something even more extreme…

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BAC Mono
Now we’re talking. The BAC Mono is one of the ultimate modern driving experiences: one seat, 580kg, and way closer to being an F1 car for the road than a LaFerrari or a McLaren Senna. Even using the steering-wheel mounted indicators makes any old Harry feel like a Hamilton.

Under the Mono’s shrinkwrapped midriff lives a 2.5-litre Ford four-cylinder engine. It develops 305bhp, which is enough to get the British flyweight from 0-100kph in 2.8 seconds, and on to a decidedly draughty top whack of 273kph.

Now, we’re not saying it would be better with twice the power. Plumbing in that Audi race engine could make the Mono terrifying. Savage. Undriveable. But finding out would be a laugh, wouldn’t it?

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