Producing an engine that meets Audi's dual criteria of performance and efficiency is not an easy task. The German automaker can usually get one part of the equation right. For example, when Ward's Auto tested the 4.2-liter V8 motor found in the Audi S4 back in 2004, they were so impressed that they named it one of their 10 best for three years running.
With such a spectacular engine, why would Audi decide to ditch it in favor of something else? The answer is simple: at 15 miles per gallon in city driving, the 4.2-liter V8 was way too thirsty for buyers. Audi went back to the engineering room and came up with a stellar new V6. The V6-equipped S4 returns 27 percent better fuel economy than the V8 and, surprisingly, it's quicker than the V8. Our review of the new S4 confirmed that the company made a wise move.
Achieving better performance while increasing efficiency is remarkable and Audi believes that its future offerings will continue down this path. As Audi spokesman Christian Bokich told Ward's Auto, "Audi is pursuing an engine downsizing strategy when appropriate for the market segment." When prodded about certain high performance offerings such as the R8 and the RS 5 Coupe, Bokich said, "We will only downsize the engines in these top-of-the-lines vehicles when customers demand it."
If Audi can make downsized engines for the top-level offerings that yield better performance and enhanced fuel economy, you better believe that people will demand it. We say, bring on a twin-turbo, 500-hp four-cylinder capable of 30 miles per gallon and stuff it in the R8. We dare you, Audi!