The news of a rear-wheel drive and V6-engine powered R8 has been swirling around the car internet for the past couple of years. Though the rumors of a rear-wheel R8 by Audi turned out to be true with Audi launching the ‘purist’ R8 RWS, while the news about the new 2.9-liter V6 used in the RS5 finding its way into the mid-engine performance car stops here: It's not happening. Audi has not sold a single entry-level R8 since the V8 version died in 2015.
However, the rumors weren’t totally baseless as the pictures of Audi’s own roadmap displayed a V6 R8 in 2018. The idea behind it might have been to make the R8 more on hand for the numbers game, but it appears that the idea of a V6 for the flagship supercar of Audi might have not been executed well with brand R8 which now positions in the big league with the likes of Lamborghini V10 under its hood.
The rumors of a V6-powered R8 started around February 2015, a month prior to the debut of the second-generation R8. The technical lead for the R8, Roland Schala, told Top Gear in an interview "the V6 is a perfect engine for this kind of car. We have a lot of potential with the V6." After a year, a supposed Audi future product outline was displayed on Autoblog (via AutoBahn.eu), appearing to signify a V6-powered R8 would launch in the year 2018.
The V6 that was supposed to power the Audi R8 was the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 which now provides power to the Audi RS4 Avant and the RS5 Coupe. So, the R8 will be offering both the all-wheel and the rear-wheel drive versions with a powertrain of 500+ bhp V10 petrol engine. Also, the facelift version of the Audi R8 is due soon as there have been quite a few camouflaged testing mules already spotted in the real world.
Knocking down from 5.2 to 2.9 liters will also be favorable for Audi in markets where the taxation system highlighting displacement. With China being the perfect example, where the new car buyers are obliged to buy in on a consumption tax of 20 percent for the vehicles equipped with engine of more than 4.0 liters capacities. It’s not a coincidence that Mercedes-AMG and Porsche both knocked down to 4.0 liters and forced induction for added torque.
Provided this, it appears that Audi at least considered a V6 R8 and it doesn't matter now as it’s official that the car definitely isn't happening. This news hasn’t come long after Audi R&D chief Peter Mertens explained that the R8 might not get a third generation at all. Mertens did state that the current R8 "has a long life" and the recent spy photos of the prototypes seem to reflect that a facelifted version of the same is on its way.
In any way, Audi Sport has its line up packed with more high-performance SUVs to come, and the e-Tron GT, Audi’s first all-electric model is confirmed to arrive in 2020.