We’d all pretty much accepted that the R8 as we know it is doomed. Audi has made no bones about its wishes to effectively replace it with something fully electric, most likely a supercar loosely based on the wild PB18 concept (below).
However, it seems the future of Audi‘s mid-engined monster will pan out a little differently. Speaking to Top Gear, Audi managing director Oliver Hoffman noted that while no firm decision had been made on the car’s platform, “it will be a car with an electrification part”. Note the phrasing “electrification part“ - Hoffman is talking about a hybrid here, not an EV.
The reprieve is thanks in large part to the GT3 and GT4 racing versions of the car, which have propped up the viability of the R8 amid sluggish sales of the road model. “The current model is the base model for our customer racing and we have to fulfil that demand in the future,” Hoffman said.
An electric supercar isn’t much use for GT racing, at least not yet, so a hybrid R8 makes perfect sense. The electrical component would help it satisfy tightening emissions regulations on the street while being easy enough to remove from the equation for the track.
With a lack of other suitable powertrain options for the R8, we’d expect the 5.2-litre V10 to be the engine Audi chooses to electrify. The question is, will it be a mild hybrid, a closed hybrid system like the NSX, or a plug-in hybrid? A mild setup would be by far the lightest option, although that might not provide enough electrification to counter the V10’s emissions sufficiently.
However Audi goes about it, the R8 living on is very welcome news for the company’s colleagues at Lamborghini, as it’ll give Sant’Agata Bolognese a base to use for the next-gen Huracan. All being well, we’ll have not one but two naturally-aspirated V10 supercars on the market. Huzzah.
As we noted recently, big engines seem to have a decent bit of life in them yet.