But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to consider some alternate history. One example? Well, according to a new piece by our friends over at Motor1, the folks at the Four Rings were apparently close to pulling the trigger on a five-cylinder, exclusively rear-wheel drive version of the firebreathing R8 supercar. To be clear, the revelation comes courtesy of esteemed journalist Steve Sutcliffe, who learned about the project from Audi insider Marcos Marques, currently serving as Porsche’s Project Manager eFuels. Here’s the meat of what Marques said about the entry-level R8 project:
It was a shame because the five-cylinder turbo engine was a good strong engine, it sounded different, and I think it worked well in the R8. The car was lighter and more agile, too, but maybe some people at Audi Sport didn’t think it felt like a real R8, so quite late on they decided the car wouldn’t happen.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve driven the R8 with the mighty V10, and while I’ve never been shot out of a cannon, using launch control in that beast made me realize what it’s like. Few things truly compare to driving a 600-horsepower supercar. From an enthusiast perspective, however, I love the idea of a lighter, less-powerful R8 with more approachable limits.
The engine in question would have been plucked from the RS3, but tuned to somewhere north of 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of twist. Of course, there’s also the fact that it would have been available with a manual transmission. While Marques didn’t elaborate on whether it would get a gated shift available on the early R8s, as long as we’re dreaming, there’s no harm in thinking it would have.
That said, I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s perfectly plausible the Audi brass didn’t feel an I5 R8 would have been “R8 enough.” It’s also worth mentioning that a mid-engine coupe with that kind of poke and a stick could have started eating the Porsche Cayman’s lunch, which might also have led to its demise.
The question now, of course, is what exactly does Audi’s “go big or go home” approach to sports coupes mean for future product. As the company moves toward electric vehicles, are we going to see anything which will fill the hole left by the Audi TT? And given the general disinterest in coupes at the moment, how long will it be before the axe falls on the two-door S5?
Personally, I don’t think it’s too hard to see a future where Audi leaves entry-level sports cars territory to corporate cousins Porsche, and leans into the off-road side with vehicles like the activesphere. Or maybe I’m in a good mood, and being optimistic that Ingolstadt and Stuttgart can play nice? Regardless, hit me up and let me know what you think!
Image Source: Audi
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