2018 Audi R8
When Audi first launched the R8 at 2006’s Paris auto show, the whole world took notice of the brand with the four rings. The car brought the exoticness of a Ferrari or Lamborghini and combined this with impeccable build quality and reliability you could count on every day. It also cost a fraction of what its Italian rivals were going for.
However, that same magic was lost when the second-generation R8 arrived a decade later. Perhaps because the car no longer broke any molds. The design and technology had barely changed, and Audi raised the barrier to entry by dropping the previous model’s entry-level V-8 option. It also didn’t help that Audi launched the car pretty much alongside the related Lamborghini Huracán.
This is reflected in the sales. Worldwide sales of the second-gen R8 totaled 3,688 units in 2016, which is lower than the 4,125 units the previous model sold in its first year on the market and well off the 5,656 units the car sold in its best year.
According to Automobile, the sales situation will likely lead to Audi dropping the R8 after the current model’s run ends sometime early next decade. Also likely dead is a hypercar, a model incumbent Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann hinted at as recently as August. Winkelmann is moving on to Bugatti and his replacement at Audi Sport, Michael-Julius Renz, will likely be busy for the foreseeable future developing higher volume models like SUVs.
So what will serve as Audi Sport’s flagship? According to Automobile, Audi Sport will launch an electric car based on the platform of the Porsche Mission E. Winkelmann has said in past interviews that Audi Sport will launch an electric car in 2020 or 2021, and that it would either take the form of a coupe-like sedan or coupe-like SUV. If the Mission E underpinnings is accurate, it appears Audi Sport is going with the former.