Audi Developed a Cheaper R8 With Turbo Five-Cylinder and RWD, Then Killed It

According to Porsche’s Project Manager of eFuels, Audi started to develop a turbo inline-five R8 with a manual gearbox.

byChris Rosales|
Audi News photo

The Audi R8 is one of the more noble supercars of them all, and it’s due to be discontinued soon. Throughout its entire two-generations, it has always been powered by the legendary 5.2-liter Audi/Lamborghini V10 engine, with the 4.2-liter Audi V8 making an appearance in the first generation. Now it has just come to light that Audi considered putting the turbocharged inline-five from the Audi RS3 into the R8 with a manual gearbox and sending it to production.

As joyous as that idea might be, it never made it to production. But these very spicy beans were spilled in an interview between Porsche eFuels Project Manager Marcos Marques and veteran British car journalist Steve Sutcliffe.

According to Marques, Audi got far enough with the idea that it had a ballpark peak torque figure for the inline-five’s R8 variant that was supposed to exceed the torque rating of the V10. The 2.5-liter inline-five is known as an 07K in Audi circles, and is famous for being capable of serious power output with relatively minor modifications. 

The 2.5-liter Audi inline-five. Audi

To add to my incredulousness, Audi apparently intended to pair the inline-five with a manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive. Audi did make a manual TT RS, but that is a transverse car. The previous six-speed manual would have likely been adapted for the longitudinal drivetrain R8.For another fun fact, the V10 and inline-five are very close to one another. They are based on the same family of engines, with most of the differences existing in the cylinder head ports. 

We reached out to Audi to confirm the story, but all an Audi spokeperson had to say about the fabled baby R8 was that “it is just a rumor.” The spokesperson also further clarified that the rumor surrounded the first-generation R8.

A manual, RWD, turbo inline-five R8 could have been the baby supercar of the century. Alas, the project was canned years ago, and history was written that the R8 would see out its days as a V10-powered supercar with a dual-clutch gearbox. Boo hoo.

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