It was inevitable.
The Audi R8 faces an uncertain future. Its positioning as a bellowing supercar with a gas-guzzling V10 engine doesn't align well with Audi's electrification plans, but the R8 may not be done just yet. A new report from Auto Bild suggests that the third-generation R8 will get a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged power plant shared with models like the Lamborghini Urus. The difference is, it'll also have electric assistance. That's at odds with previous reports that the R8 is set to be replaced as early as 2024.
It would mark a big departure from the R8's naturally-aspirated engines, but it could also be the last time we see a combustion-powered R8. The publication didn't go into much more detail but suggested a market launch for the turbocharged R8 in 2023.
It also said that by adding electric assistance to the turbocharged V8, the total output could be in the region of 700 horsepower. Audi's existing R8 produces up to 602 hp in the case of the V10 performance quattro model, so another 100 hp on top of that is a big deal. Already, the current V10 AWD takes only 3.2 seconds to reach 60. A hybrid model would likely be heavier, though. The addition of turbocharging would also alter the characteristics of the R8, a car that's always been known for its high-revving, naturally-aspirated engines.
Earlier this year, Audi boss Markus Duesmann said that the third-gen R8 could potentially become a fully electric model.
A fully electric R8 would be a more dramatic leap than if the R8 introduced hybridization and turbocharging, but he said that the company "could do it if we wanted to." After all, Audi already built the often forgotten Audi R8 e-tron.
If it were up to us, we'd love to see one more generation of an R8 with a gas engine. Like the best Lamborghinis and Ferraris, this is a car that has always had a magnificent engine as the focal point. But new fully electric Audis like the RS e-tron GT are appealing in their own way. Whatever powers it, Audi's next R8 - if it sees the light of day at all - will be a very different animal.