Thanks to tax laws in China, the German car maker has considered engineering a five-cylinder version of its Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan supercars.
Stephan Reil, head of engineering at Quattro, told Car and Driver that although no approval has been given for such a car and no engineering is currently under way, the possibility "has been talked about".
That's because in March 2013 China began implementing an annual car taxation scheme based on engine capacity. The new tax really kicks in at nine percent for engines displacing 2.0 litres. From there it rises on a linear scale, all the way up to 40 percent for engines 4.0 litres and
A solution could be found in the guise of the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine that debuted in the TT Clubsport Turbo concept at this year's Worthersee event. With electric forced induction at low speeds and an exhaust-driven turbocharger at higher revs, the twin-turbo five-pot develops 441kW of power and 650Nm of torque.
According to Peter Hollerweger, chief of Audi's Quattro division, the downside with that type of solution is that such a system requires a separate 48V battery for the electric turbo. "This type of battery is much heavier and the weight disadvantage of the battery has to be countered by the performance gain," he said.
Reil stated that, while tempting, a decision to go ahead with a five-cylinder R8 or Huracan rested with projected volumes, the expected longevity of these taxation regimes and whether buyers actually want an R8 or Huracan with such a reduced cylinder count.