By on October 3, 2017

Audi A8

Did you hear the news? Every automaker worth its salt will switch to electrified, fully autonomous vehicles yesterday.

Bored yet? Very likely so, but the people laying out money for cars still have a say in what vehicles automakers produce, and for high-end buyers, prestige doesn’t necessarily come wrapped in the latest technology from the pages of Wired. Big-money buyers want big power and, while that increasingly means the latest in twin-turbocharged, downsized wonderengines, it isn’t always so.

Audi can’t wait to challenge Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar in the premium electric car race, but there’s no way its customers would agree to the disappearance of a proper eight-cylinder gasoline engine, claims the brand’s technical development chief.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Peter Mertens, who arrived at his post from Volvo earlier this year, has heard his company’s customers loud and clear.

Oh sure, there’ll be three electric vehicles introduced between now and 2020, with an ambitious goal of one-third of its sales arising from plug-in hybrids and EVs by 2025. Audi is also developing dedicated electric architecture with corporate cousin Porsche. And yes, the brand’s parent company does plan to shed 40 percent of its engine offerings in the near future.

“We will thin out our engine-transmission combinations, but entire engine families might also disappear,” said Mertens. “Do we really need a V-10 and W-12 for the next generation of cars?”

However, one thing won’t be as quick to disappear. And it’s something as American as apple pie, but apparently lusted after across the globe.

“We get questioned about the [future of the] V-8, and in particular the diesel, but I cannot imagine we will do without it,” Mertens continued. “We have a very important group of customers that really wants eight-cylinder engines in larger vehicles. Will it exist forever? No, but [it will] for a rather long time.”

Some time before the VW Group engine cull announcement, rumors arose of a death sentence for the Audi V8. A source said the automaker, given its expenditure on electrified powertrains and vehicle architecture, isn’t likely to drop cash on another V8 engine family. Thankfully, Audi’s new 4.0-liter V8 family, which includes a (European) diesel version with two turbochargers and an electric supercharger, is still an infant. Mertens’ comments should allay fears of S7 or S8 buyers being forced to accept some sort of turbo four/hybrid drivetrain in the near future.

While the V8 seems safe at Audi for the time being, don’t expect to see a diesel return, no matter how large its SUVs grow. Do expect to get used to a 48-volt mild hybrid setup, however. The automaker plans to add the fuel-saving technology to as many as its large vehicles as possible, including its next-generation A6, A7, and A8.

[Image: Audi AG]

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28 Comments on “Electric Cars Are Nice, but Audi Customers Still Demand V8s...”

  • avatar

    But I thought that Ford’s 1.0 liter turbocharged ecoboost more, that can fit into carry-on luggage, was where….it’s…AT.

    • 0 avatar

      Everyone who is against it is an eco criminal.

    • 0 avatar

      The annoying thing is that Ford has a very entertaining V8, they just stick it in a HD truck.

    • 0 avatar

      Audis are fantastic, with great exterior styling (mature, simple yet elegant), fantastic gauges and interior materials and ergonomics, great steering, suspension, chassis rigidity, some decent -to-great motors…

      …but they charge A LOT (especially ala Porsche’s dig the shiv in deep for options trick) for their four rings.

      K miss a stick stuff and clutch and when I move on from the current Mercedes E350, am tempted to get a Golf 1.8 or GTI, either with the manual transmission, which are really 20% to 30% off Audi A3s.

      Did I mentioning I REALLY MISS a manual gearbox and clutch?

      Slushboxes hold no joy or soul.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The content of the article is at odds with the tone of the headline.

    V8s – staying
    V10s – gone
    V12s – gone
    Diesels – gone
    Hybrids – adding
    Plug-in hybrids – adding
    EVs – adding

    *Of course* they’re not going to get rid of all ICEs, but Audi’s drivetrain portfolio will look dramatically different in 2020 than it did in 2015.

    • 0 avatar

      “V8s – staying”

      I’ll take it.

    • 0 avatar

      The death of anything with more than 8 cylinders in the very near future is a foregone conclusion. Except in uber-niche uses.

    • 0 avatar

      I read that as saying that having BOTH a V10 and W12 was superfluous. I doubt Bentley will kill off the W12 especially soon, but maybe Lamborghinis will end up moving to V8/W12 options or something?

      • 0 avatar

        Um, Lamborghini doesn’t use W12 as found in other Volkswagen Group products. Its 6.5-litre V12 motor is exclusive to Aventador.

        Lamborghini uses 5.2-litre V10 motor in its Gallardo/Huracán as to maintain the wider gap on the totem pole between cheaper Huracán and more expensive, more exclusive Aventador.

        The Lamborghini V10 is shared to the certain degree with Audi S6 (C6) and S8 (D3) as well as R8, making it easier to keep Gallardo/Huracán at the lower price bracket.

        So having both V10 and V12 isn’t superfluous…

        Bentley will continue with W12 since it’s the best selling 12-cylinder motors in the world. This motor is also a standard option in Continental GT, Flying Spur, and Bentayga.

        The rumour mill is Bentley developing a new V12 to replace its old 6.75-litre V8 for the next generation Mulsanne, which would benefit more from the exclusivity of V12.

  • avatar

    This is marketing bluster. Audi will keep or not keep its V8s, depending on EU regulations. But obviously, they’re not going to say that today.

  • avatar

    I hope so. I’m not happily buying a turbo four over a six, and If an 8 is on offer, I’d buy it. The one thing my CTS is missing is a proper small block….

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai/Kia is really the last hope. Respectively, they have a neophyte luxury brand and their first-ever sporting GT car.

      I know there are people in those organizations that want to do a V8 Stinger or V8 G70 / G80 Sport. I just don’t know if they have enough pull to make it happen.

  • avatar

    As the owner of a Audi with a 4.2 V8, I think this is good news.

    Of course it depends on what models its available in and if any of those will be sold in the USA, but since I’ve a good experience so far I’d certainly consider looking at an Audi when I’m in the market again.

    • 0 avatar

      Didnt they downsize the 4.2 v8 to a 4.0t?

      • 0 avatar

        I believe the 4.0TFSI V8 debuted in vehicles in 2012, yes. Not sure its really a downsize. Its not as long in the bay, and has cylinder deactivation, twin turbos, and a different heat management system.

        For me, as someone who doesn’t wrench beyond tire rotation, oil changes, and bulbs and fuses (depending on access), its sounds like a different V8 engine, for the most part.

        Now if only Audi would allow for permanent disabling of start/stop….without spending a ton of money and acquiring (and properly using) VAG-COM.

  • avatar

    Yes of course this is marketing. Until EVs have such an overwhelming advantage, these big motors arent going.

    If you can suddenly make a 600 mile EV then you probably have a case.

    I think it has to do with ‘increasing capability’… a turbo 4 is now what a V6 was, a turbo V6 is what a V8 was.

    Remember the day when a six was a V8 for poor people?

    Also in Europe with so many countries against V8s anyway they are rich people’s toys.

  • avatar

    And get rid of the start/stop silliness. I don’t buy a flagship car to have it stall out at every light so I can save 50 cents on gas per month for my $85,000 car.

  • avatar

    So, boring pickup truck engines appeal still. I don’t get it, guess I never have. V12’s are smoother and more aristocratic, V10’s more exotic and sonorous. V8’s haven’t been special in DECADES.

  • avatar

    The premium brands and performance brands are killing their themselves if they abandon interesting internal combustion engines in favor of electrics and small displacement 3 and 4 cylinder turbos. Nothing electric or with 3/4 cylinders can touch the sound of a well tuned boxer six, straight six, V-8, or V-12, nor can any 3/4 cylinder be as smooth. If the premium brands can’t brag about offering more cylinders than mainstream brands, then they lose one of the most important and differentiating premium feature associated with the these brand.

    • 0 avatar


      A few years ago, Mercedes built an all-the-goodies S-class… with a little 1-liter turbo three-cylinder and a 10-speed transmission to keep it on peak. It could cruise is S-class silence and comfort, while getting small-car mileage. Acceleration was… modest…

      They took it to a couple auto shows, to get customer reaction. As you might expect, the car was met, among S-class buyers, with universal refusal.

      The average S-class driver almost never uses all the power available… but they insist on having it.

      Kinda like a pickup buyer and the loadbed. ;-))

    • 0 avatar

      I’d add FPC V8s and flatheads to that list of awesome sounds. Still, EVs have pretty cool sounds in regen and hard acceleration. Especially once we start seeing quad motors with a motor at each corner.

      Premium brands won’t be able to brag about cylinder count, but there is the power rating of the motors and more importantly, motor count. I think one of the best applications of electric technology is all-wheel drive with a motor at each wheel. Mechanical all-wheel-drive systems won’t be able to touch a quad-motor system. Another thing I’m seeing is that Porsche and Audi are offering fast 300kW+ charging for their upcoming models, but VW doesn’t seem to be getting it so far.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem with electric motors is the sound is about the same across the brands/types, and not very loud anyway. Expense and technical advancement is not easy or perhaps even possible to demonstrate with electric motors, so the basis for charging a premium price erodes.

  • avatar

    Yes there’s not much that can curdle the blood like the sound of a nasty V8.Audi does it pretty well.

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