Rumor: Audi Hatches Plan for R8 Replacement

renderings: 4Rings.AI

Most know the Audi R8 ends production around the end of 2023, which leaves the brand of the four rings without a halo car of that caliber since the late 2000s. Now, word on the street (or rather via AutoCar Magazine in the UK) is that Audi Sport GmbH is moving forward with a successor with a mid-decade launch date expected.

According to the report, the project isn’t fully signed-off upon, but it is most definitely in motion and is expected to take on “an entirely new design direction”. Even still, it is also expected to keep with the “pure sportscar” direction, meaning two doors unlike the Audi Sport’s more recent RS e-tron GT.

Audi Sport boss Sebastian Grams commented to AutoCar, “Absolutely we will keep craftsmanship as it’s what makes the car unique from the rest of the portfolio. If we bring an R8 successor, we will try to continue to do that. It is important for the customer. There’s love inside an R8.”

And though the e-tron GT may have gone the more market safe route of 4-doors, it has also geared up the Audi Sport production facility for car EV car production. Quite likely, this R8 successor may very well be an electric vehicle, though it’s worth noting that the planned Lamborghini Huracan replacement will be a hybrid. It’s all a question of architecture and components, but Audi has a wealth of hardware from across the Volkswagen Group from which to choose.

The RS e-tron GT uses the Volkswagen Group-developed J1 platform that underpins the Porsche Taycan, and that component set is about to be replaced by the next SSP matrix and devised for everything from SUVs to low-slung sedans like the Taycan / RS e-tron GT pair, and it’s one option for the R8 successor. We’d expect this if the car goes full EV and perhaps more of an ur quattro / Sport quattro GT car design inspiration.

Another is the EV sportscar platform Porsche is set to debut with its all-electric next-generation 718 Boxster/Cayman. That design stacks batteries behind the seats for low center of gravity and optimized weight distribution. We’d expect this to be more likely should the car become more of a sportscar with proportions and driving dynamic closer to the outgoing R8.

And though Autocar suggests the car could be pure EV, the notion that it’s not yet finalized leaves this up for debate. The aforementioned Huracan replacement hybrid platform may be an interesting move. Yes, EV has been the push almost entirely at Audi when it comes to new products, but the market and especially the sportscar market remains somewhat attached to internal combustion. In theory, Audi could pair the R8 successor with the Huracan successor (as the current cars also do), and make a hybrid that would be consistent with both its Dakar and F1 hardware in that both are in effect hybrids.

Which would we like to see? In our opinions, EVs will come in time and we’d expect a less exotic take on the electric RS 4 Coupe and TT in time. Why not celebrate the end of the ICE era with a nod to F1, and perhaps Audi’s past. If it could work, the last remaining fully-developed Audi Sport GmbH DAZA 5-cylinder turbo is still in production and 5-cylinders are the heart of the modern Audi legend. In theory, a hybridized Huracan drivetrain with 2.5 TFSI in both a sportscar and perhaps also an extreme off-roader would be an exotic and fantasy-inspiring range that would hat tip F1 and Dakar. In our eyes, this would be the perfect send-off to the ICE era.

In order to visualize an R8 replacement, we turned to AI, specifically the work behind the @4Rings.AI Instagram account for some published and up-until-now unpublished takes on the concepts. Included here are some more evolutionary takes on the R8, a boxier R8 with more retro angular design given the resurgence of geometric design, and finally a modern yet geometric-esque Sport quattro with more of a front-engine proportion GT configuration.