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2016 Audi R8 Sneak Preview

When: 2015
Why: Because Porsche will never do a diesel 911.

The Audi R8 made its debut back in 2007, and Audi's first-ever supercar vaulted the already hot brand to a higher plane of performance and prestige. Deciding on a follow-up has not been easy, though, and the new R8 has been a long time coming. Early in the gestation process, the second-generation of the mid-engine two-seater was to be lighter, more compact, and powered exclusively by a pair of five-cylinder engines. The next plan put the emphasis on bigger volumes and lower prices and prescribed a brace of twin-turbo V-6s as mainstay engines. Both projects were shot down before they could see the light of day.

Audi chose handsome and familiar styling over a radical redesign for its groundbreaking supercar.

Instead of a radical rethink, the new Audi R8 hews closely to the established formula. As such, it continues to sit uncomfortably close to its Lamborghini sister model, the newly released Lamborghini Huracán. The two cars share the same architecture, known internally as MSS (modular sports car system), which boasts a materials mix of aluminum and carbon fiber, an uprated control-arm suspension, and such new options as dynamic steering and laser-beam matrix headlights. Unfortunately, the gated six-speed manual bites the dust in favor of the seven-speed S tronic.

Again, we'll find V-8 and V-10 engines motivating the Audi R8, although the V-8 is new, replacing the current 4.2-liter. Specifically, expect the 2016 Audi R8 to offer the following: a 4.0-liter V-8 twin-turbo making 460 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, a 5.2-liter normally aspirated V-10 good for 540 hp and 398 lb-ft, and a 600-hp version of the ten-cylinder with 413 lb-ft in the V-10 Plus. The latter will not be available in the Audi R8 Spyder, which joins the party in early 2016. The on-again, off-again all-electric Audi R8 eTron is part of the program and promises a range of 300 miles. Also in the works, for 2017, is a Ferdinand Piëch pet project, the Audi R8 TDI. It could use either an increased horsepower version of the current 4.0-liter turbo-diesel V-8 or an even more exotic 5.0-liter V-10 TDI, which Audi is developing for Bentley.