Sam Philip16 July 2014

Next Audi R8 to get V8 diesel?

Second-gen mid-engined sports car could come with a Le Mans-inspired V8 TDI, Audi boss tells TG

Will the second-generation Audi R8 - due to arrive next year - come stuffed with diesel power? Maybe so, according to Audi's big boss Rupert Stadler.

Speaking at an event celebrating a quarter-century of Audi TDI power (ain't no party like a turbodiesel party!), Prof Stadler told TG that the company wants greater technology transfer from its Le Mans program - which secured its 13th 24-hour title in 15 years at La Sarthe in June - to road cars.

And the second-gen R8 - which will share its underpinnings with the new Lamborghini Huracan, and will launch in 2015 with updated versions of the 4.2-litre V8 and 5.2-litre V10 engines powering the current iteration - could be the first to benefit from that trickle-down, hinted Stadler.

"We demonstrated on the race track in Le Mans [...] that with a lot of torque we are able to win," said the Audi chief, "and our intention is always that you can see these technologies as a customer on the road. First test, then bring it to customers."

So does this mean we could see an R8 featuring the hybrid V6 diesel arrangement found in the R18 e-tron racer? Unlikely, says Stadler, noting: "This one [engine] in Le Mans is a very specific engine."

Instead, when asked what diesel might power an R8, Stadler was keen to remind us that Audi has a 4.2-litre V8 in its locker.

"What makes Audi different to the competitors is that we stick to diesel, even in the V8 segment," said the boss. By boss-standards, that's a pretty clanging hint. In the current A8 limo, that V8 makes 380bhp and 627lb ft of torque, enough to haul that big bus from 0-62mph in under five seconds. In the R8, it's safe to assume Audi might find even more power from the V8.

However, Stadler stressed that a lazy, low-revving diesel wouldn't work in a sports car like the R8, which will remain four-wheel drive but feature more extensive use of carbon fibre to reduce weight. "We believe the fuel consumption reduction has to be combined with a perfect power perception. People would like to have fun, and also have a good feeling."

Stadler also suggested that a diesel R8, if and when it arrives, would not herald a ‘watering-down' of engine options for Audi's flagship sports car. "The range of engines of the R8 will never be compared with an A4 or A6," he said. "It is always limited and very specific."

Prof Stadler also strongly hinted that an RS-badged diesel Audi would arrive in the near future, a diesel perhaps supplemented with electric power. Last month, the firm showed a prototype RS5 ‘TDI-e' fitted with a hybridised version of its 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo, generating 380bhp and a thundering 553lb ft of torque.

When Top Gear asked if this hinted at a future diesel RS, Dr Stadler was (fairly) unequivocal.

"If you feel the heat of the [RS5 TDi] concept, that genetic code is prepared for a lot of things. We have been the first to bring a diesel as an S version [in the SQ5], and why shouldn't we be prepared for the next step?"

In chairman-speak, that's as close to a definite ‘yes' as you're ever going to get. So, a diesel R8 and diesel RS5: are you ready for this?

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