Audi’s supercar, the R8, could be in direct competition with its sibling the Lamborghini Gallardo, but it also means that the two supercars could share components. The two-seater Audi is expected to carry a 6 speed DSG transmission for lightning fast shifts, and will be coupled with a rear-bias all-wheel-drive system. The car will be initially released with a 420hp V8 engine from the RS4 with more power to come in subsequent models, which may include a rumoured convertible model. This latter version will share the V10 engine from Lamborghini’s Gallardo but slightly detuned to 480hp. The car will also come with magnetic suspension, as used in the Ferrari 599 and Audi TT. Audi expects to sell 5,000 units annually at €100,000 each.
BMW attempt is the Z9, which will probably feature two seats and a mid-engine layout. In terms of engine options, BMW already has the V10 from the M5, which would easily provide more than 500hp, or even consider two specs with a V8 version taken from the current M3, which still produces over 400hp. The Z9 is also expected to use BMW’s own dual clutch transmission technology, which can shift gears in 100 milliseconds.
Not to be outdone, Mercedes is also considering a similar project with the P8, in collaboration with its AMG tuning house. But with the SLR already in its stable, Mercedes may simply be looking for a mid-engined alternative to the Mercedes-McLaren SLR. There are rumours that the P8 could have gullwing style doors similar to the 300SL, and that the engine would be the 6.2L V12 from the CL63. The P8 is expected to cost around €150,000.
Audi, BMW, and Mercedes will all use lightweight aluminum and space frame construction, and with the choice of engines that these manufacturers have there is no doubt that these cars will be devastatingly quick – after all, an M5 engine used to propel a four-door luxury sedan would be like a sledgehammer in a lightweight two-seater sports car. We can’t wait.