Speaking to Automotive News recently, Audi’s new Vice President of Research and Development wondered whether the brand’s biggest engines were still entirely necessary.

“Do we really need a V10 and a W12 for the next generation of cars?” he asked rhetorically. The comments came following questions about the brand’s plan to drop up to 40% of its current drive systems.

The move would be doubly useful for Audi, since the whole VW Group is still on a cost-cutting mission to fund the massive dieselgate bill while funding electric mobility, but would have implications for the R8 and the A8.

Luckily, not all big engines are on their way out.

“We have a very important group of customers that really want eight-cylinder engines in larger vehicles,” Mertens told Automotive News. “Will it exist forever? No, but [it will] for a rather long time.”

Mertens was recently hired away from Volvo, where he was the R&D chief. Given his history there, his penchant for downsizing engines is hardly a surprise. Volvo’s biggest engine, by cylinder count, is currently an inline-4 and Mertens was once quoted as saying that cylinder count is irrelevant.

Still, the R8’s main attraction is the big, naturally aspirated V10 that hangs, perfectly balanced, in its middle. To drop that, as it now seems will happen for the car’s next generation, might take away a part of its soul.

By implication, Lamborghini will also be required to rethink drivetrains for the next generation of its (briefly) Nurburgring-lap-record-holding Huracan.

On the other hand, the RS7 will reportedly make up to 700 hp with its hybrid V8 and 650 hp with its twin-turbo V8. So would a V8 really be the end of the world?

[source: Automotive News ]