The time has come for another famous Volkswagen Group engine to bow out of the public eye. Audi’s naturally-aspirated V10 is nearing the end of its life in production cars, and is getting sent out in a limited run of just 333 Audi R8 Coupé V10 GT RWDs. With 612 horses on tap and rear-wheel-drive, this engine and the car it’s bolted to are going out with a bang.
Back in 2021–I know, it feels like a decade ago–Audi announced the end of the Audi R8 as we know it. First gracing the world in 2006 for the 2007 model year, the German supercar is a mix of futuristic touches while also managing to stay pretty conservative. It’s a car that looks like it could have been built in 2002 or 2022, especially the first-generation. The R8 launched with a 4.2-liter V8 making 414 horsepower, but in 2008, the automaker announced that the R8 would fire on ten cylinders. The Audi R8 V10 was born, and its 5.2-liter V10 sang a 525 HP symphony.
The R8 has enjoyed a long 15 model-year run of being the sensible supercar. But as Audi has confirmed, 2023 will mark the end of the V10-powered R8 and the current generation of the R8 is the last of the supercar as we know it. Audi says that the R8 will be replaced with an electric supercar that will arrive in the middle of this decade or the end of it, depending on which report you read. One thing is for sure, and it’s that the R8 V10 isn’t going out quietly.
Audi is sending out the V10 in the best way possible with a new Audi R8 Coupé V10 GT RWD.
It starts with the R8 V10 Performance RWD, an R8 with that 5.2-liter V10 pumping out 562 horsepower. That’s already a healthy amount of power, but Audi Sport GmbH then did some tinkering on the engine. It came out of the other side laying down 612 horses to the rear wheels. Audi says that this is good for a sprint to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, to 124 mph in 10.1 seconds, and a top speed of about 199 mph. Helping achieve those numbers is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
As Hagerty writes, the origins of Audi’s V10 date back to 2003. Back in those days, the V10’s displacement was 5.0-liters and housed in the Lamborghini Gallardo. Things would only evolve from there as the engine grew to 5.2-liters with an increased cylinder bore spacing, an uneven firing interval, and the Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI) system.
When Audi talks of the history of its variant of the corporate V10, it mentions the engine’s placement in the S6 and S8, both performance sedans that got V10 power in 2006. Admittedly, I’ve been off and on trying to buy a high-mileage S6. I’ve seen a number of sellers say that their S6 sedans have “the Audi R8 V10 engine” or “the Lamborghini Gallardo engine,” but as Audi points out, that’s really only partially true. Audi notes what made the R8 V10 different from the V10 in the sedans before it:
Unlike its sedan counterparts, however, the V10 in the R8 had a different engine crank, designed for a lighter-weight, freer-revving engine and adopted dry-sump oil lubrication, which eliminated the need for a traditional oil pan. In its place, the R8 had and continues to have a baffle plate below the engine that collects outgoing oil and serves as a reservoir for cycling oil through the engine. The oil pump module consists of a suction and feed pump for filling the oil reservoir and a suction and pressure pump for supplying oil to the engine.
This allowed engineers to mount the engine lower, which decreases the center of gravity of the vehicle. It also allows the engine to withstand higher lateral forces, as the oil pump will never be starved from cornering too aggressively. An oil cooler is run from the left-side air intake blade to keep the engine running cooler.
The dry-sump lubrication system is identical from the road-going R8 to the R8 LMS GT3 racecar, which can see much higher G-forces on tracks like Daytona and the Nürburgring due to extreme banking, slick tires and aerodynamic changes increasing downforce.
Of course, that V10 comes with an unforgettable soundtrack. Perhaps the coolest part about this engine is that you don’t have to look too far to find one. These aren’t saddled in super rare cars that never leave a garage. Instead, they’re in tens of thousands of Lamborghinis and R8s around the world that you’ve probably seen scooting down a highway or leaving a car show.
And it doesn’t end with the road, either, as racing versions of the R8 V10 have seen success in competition, too:
With more than 250 customer racing R8 LMS GT3 racetrack cars made in addition to GT2 and GT4 vehicles—all with V10 engines—they’ve laid claim to five overall wins at the Nürburgring 24, four overall wins at Spa and class wins at Daytona, the Bathurst 12 Hours, Macau and many other famed tracks throughout the world. From its first race through April 2020, globally, racers in the R8 LMS GT3 have achieved 75 driver championships, 13 overall wins in 24-hour races and numerous other podium finishes.
Understandably, Audi is proud of what it has done with the R8 V10.
This car actually comes 12 years after the announcement of its predecessor, the original Audi R8 GT. That car followed a similar formula. The V10 back then made 525 HP and Audi kicked it up to 560 HP.
Here’s a reminder of what that car looked like:
This new GT, just like the old one, gets carbon fiber body parts, weight reduction, matte gray paint, and exclusive wheels. Audi says that the new GT weighs 44 fewer pounds than the R8 Coupé V10 performance RWD that it’s based on, coming in at about 1,570 kg (3,461 pounds) empty.
The R8 V10 has long been this writer’s “unattainable” dream car. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the first-generation is alluring in ways that Lamborginis of the era didn’t. I often found myself obsessed with stats like the car’s LED headlights, the side blades, and that V10’s sound. It was a teenage poster car and today, it’s one of my adult wallpaper cars.
In all, it sounds like Audi has chosen a great way to send out the V10. Audi even says that this car will come with a “new torque rear-drive mode enables precise and controlled oversteering,” which sounds like a type of drift mode. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, but Audi says that just 333 of them will be made. After that, Audi will be marching on towards its electrified future.