The R8 is due for a little brother says AutoExpress. Audi board member Michael Dick once told us he liked the idea and AutoExpress suggests this "R4" will be based closely on the e-tron Spyder and feature the 2.5 TFSI pumping close to 400 hp with all-wheel drive and eventually a hybrid version pushing electric power via the front wheels.
There are more details from AutoExpress's 'insider contact' in the article after the jump as well as renders based on the Detroit e-tron concept.
So What Do We Think?
First, we're pretty sure this car will be called "R5". That name has been mentioned by our own contacts and we've also seen reference to it by Georg Kacher over at CAR who is often VERY in tune with what the Audi board is thinking.
Interesting here are all the references to the e-tron Spyder (shown above on display at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and next to an R8 for reference). Several concepts have been shown of mid-engine smaller Audi sportscars including the e-tron Spyder and the Detroit e-tron coupe... both on different proposed chassis. The Spyder featured a longitudinal V6 TDI while we're told the e-tron Detroit coupe would have equated to a transverse setup and was nearly the same footprint as the Audi A1's PQ25 platform.
If you read yesterday's intel from CAR about the various mid-engine intel as it pertained to proposed Porsche chassis mates to mid-engine Audis , then you know that we remain unclear as to whether this little brother for the R8 will feature a transverse engine orientation (east-west like the TT and A3) or longitudinal (like the R8, A4, etc.). Just which setup is used determines things like parts sharing... transverse likely using an all-wheel drive system like Haldex while a longitudinal might use something like the R8's viscous coupling, a torsen or the like.
That the 2.5 TFSI is the most likely engine suggests perhaps the answer will be transverse since the 5-cylinder turbo is longer than the V10 but narrow enough to fit rather keenly when mounted east-west... one reason you see it bountifully in TT RS and RS 3 and not at all in any larger Audis with the very singular exception of the quattro Concept.
Since AutoExpress is referencing an insider contact and not just rehashing some nebulous rumor, we're putting more weight on the accuracy of the story. If they're accurate, then their source suggests that determination of final platform hasn't been made... though the level of drivetrain detail (if from the same source) conflicts a bit with this. More than likely, their source is sandbagging just a bit. In our opinion, the R5 is very likely and AutoExpress says it could be out within three years.