The second generation of Audi’s R8 supercar could feature a version of the 900-horsepower hybrid powertrain debuted in Lamborghini’s Asterion concept, according to one of the German giant’s technical chiefs.
Speaking to Car Magazine, Ulrich Hackenburg, Audi board member for Research and Development, confirmed speculation that the second generation of the German supercar could be sold with optional hybrid and fully electric powertrains.
“We are able to make the R8 a plug-in hybrid”, he said. “The Lamborghini Asterion shows this is possible – that car uses the platform of the R8. We will see an increase in the efficiency of high-performance cars – they have to meet CO2 regulations of the future in order to survive.”
Throughout its life cycle, the first-generation R8 has been used by Audi as a test bed for alternatively-fuelled supercars, with both diesel and fully-electric sporty prototypes already having been produced.
Unfortunately, the diesel-powered, twin-turbocharged Audi R8 V12 TDI project was shelved amid fears that re-engineering the original R8 platform to accommodate the forced-induction diesel powerplant would prove too expensive.
On the other hand, production of the fully-electric R8 E-Tron prototype was approved, although concerns that battery technology hadn’t developed as quickly as Audi had anticipated meant that its release was postponed. An undesirably low battery range meant that full-scale implementation of the electric drivetrain was postponed until the release of the second-generation car, allowing battery technology to catch up to where Audi had originally hoped it would be. A prototype of the E-Tron, based on the first-generation car, had already set an all-electric lap record of the Nürburgring circuit, proving that the original project did have performance, if not yet range.
“In the [upcoming] R8 E-tron we will have more than 400km range”, declared Hackenburg.
“We will have different powertrains available, though”, he added.
Indeed, Audi will need to offer a selection of powertrain options if they hope to compete with the likes of the revolutionary BMW i8 hybrid, all-electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, upcoming Porsche 911 hybrid and various gasoline-fueled offerings from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Dampening the excitement somewhat is the likely disappearance of the manual gearbox from the R8’s options list. Despite the first-generation car having perfected the classic open-gated transmission, Audi insiders are claiming that only a paddle-operated dual-clutch gearbox will be offered on the next-generation supercar.
However, Formula Future is optimistic that where the new car will be lacking in gearstick-rowing, open-gate enjoyment, it will more than make up for in high-power, high-torque excitement.
Image credit: Webby-B – Audi e-Tron (DeviantART), CC BY-NC-ND 3.0