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Audi R8 engine explained

The Audi R8 is powered exclusively by a V10 engine. What a glorious thing.
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

7 Jan 2019 • 4 min read

We know, of course, that the beating heart of any true performance car is its engine. Plenty of worryingly wobbly vehicles have been saved by the fitment of a whopping great engine (look to just about any old-school American muscle car for proof), just as many a crisp and sharp chassis has been wasted on a wheezy motor.

And when it comes to beating hard and fast, few do it it better than the raucous V10 housed towards the rear of the Audi R8's svelte and sporting body.

While the R8 first launched in Australia in 2006 with a 4.2-litre V8 engine, a meatier V10 engine (borrowed from the Lamborghini Gallardo) was unveiled in 2008. And these days (from 2016, in fact) it's a 10-cylinder proposition no matter how much you spend, with the eight-cylinder engine dropped from the line-up entirely.

While 11 years does seem an awfully long time for that big V10 to have been doing the rounds, Audi's engineers haven't just been sitting on their hands, with the boffins managing to squeeze more and more power of it with every new generation.

Back in 2008, you could expect specs of 391kW and 530Nm from Audi's V10-powered performance flagship. By 2016, those numbers had grown to 397kW and 540Nm for the standard car, and 449kW and 560Nm for the more hardcore V10 Plus model.

A 2019 update, which is due in Australia later this year, will see those specifications improve again, this time to 419kW and 560Nm for the standard Audi R8 engine, and a whopping 456kW and 580Nm for the Performance (the new name for the Plus) model.

Audi says its thumping V10 is "almost identical"  to the engine from the brand's R8 LMS GT3 and R8 LMS GT4 race cars - the more powerful version will spin all the way to a screaming 8700rpm - and it's made at Audi's Hungarian engine plant. Both versions are paired with a seven-speed 'S tronic' dual-clutch automatic transmission that funnels power to all four wheels, and both allow for the kinds of frightening acceleration expected at this end of the market.

The 2019 R8 will clip 100km/h just 3.4 seconds (coupe) or 3.5sec (convertible), and produce a flying top speed north of 320km/h for the first time. The more powerful Plus version drops the sprint to 3.1sec for the coupe (3.2sec convertible), and lifts the top speed to is 331km/h (coupe) or 329km/h (convertible).

The V10 itself - longitudinal mid-mounted - consists of aluminium-alloy block and heads and aluminium pistons, while Audi credits new titanium valve train components for the power boost over the outgoing model. Multipoint injection and continuous intake and exhaust camshaft adjustment also feature on Audi's  5204cc monster.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed for the new car, but the outgoing model starts at $366,340, and jumps to $402,430 for the Plus. A folding roof is an approximate $20,000 premium on either model. We don't know yet whether Audi will release another limited-run RWS version of the new model, but the rear-wheel-drive version of the outgoing car lowered the entry point to around $299,000.

And that makes the German brand's stonking supercar one of the true bargains of the automotive world. Yes, I realise that makes us sound like we've been quaffing too much Dom Perignon again, but hear us out.

You see, at the very core of Audi's R8 is that genuinely fabulous V10, but it's an engine not exclusive to the Germans. In fact, you'll find the very same powerplant lurking inside Lamborghini's monstrous Huracan, for which you will be slugged around $428k for the cheapest AWD version, and some $390k for the rear-wheel-drive model.

And yet you can slip behind the wheel of the angriest Audi for a comparatively paltry $299k (for the current rear-wheel-drive RWS version), or $366,340 for the cheapest AWD. See? A bargain.

But be warned; the era for the hard-charging V10 engines is at an end, and it is widely thought that this will be the very last R8 model not to feature some sort of electrification or turbocharging. So if you truly want one, you best act fast.

Audi R8 engine specifications

Engine: R8 V10
Engine description: V10 naturally aspirated FSI
Capacity (cc): 5204
Max Power: 419kW @ 8000rpm
Max Torque: 560Nm @ 6500rpm  
Bore x Stroke (mm): 84.5 x 92.8
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Engine: R8 V10 Performance
Engine description: V10 naturally aspirated FSI
Capacity (cc): 5204
Max Power: 456kW @ 8000rpm
Max Torque: 580Nm @ 6500rpm
Bore x Stroke (mm): 84.5 x 92.8
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1

Are you as sad as we are that this is expected to be the last V10-engined supercar from Audi? Tell us what you think in the comments below.