Speaking to during the Geneva Motor Show, Audi R&D head Peter Mertens said that the company had no plans for a direct replacement to today's R8. It's a revelation that requires some unpacking.
Rumors of the R8's eventual demise first popped up in late 2016 when Der Speigel reported that Audi might no longer develop its own platforms as a cost-cutting measure following VW's diesel emissions-cheating scandal. We didn't buy it then, since the R8 has always been closely related to Lamborghini's entry-level model, first the Gallardo, and now the Huracan. Basically, as long as there's a baby Lambo, there should be an R8. But Mertens's statement now questions that theory.
When Car and Driver said that there are no plans to replace the current R8, Mertens replied, "I would say so." He doesn't rule out a future R8 entirely, though.
"Never say never; performance cars are good for Audi," he said.
But, let's pretend for a moment that Mertens' assertion is correct, and there won't be a new R8 after the current model goes away. What happens to the baby Lambo?
If the R8 were to disappear, it doesn't necessarily spell the end of the line for the entry-level Lamborghini supercar. that the next-generation Porsche 911, dubbed 992, will debut a platform that underpins the successor to the Huracan. It's a sports-car platform designed to work with mid- and rear-engine configurations.
There's logic behind Porsche and Lamborghini sharing parts. When Porsche initially became part of the VW Group, there was a conscious effort to keep it somewhat separate from the rest of the brands, with exclusive platforms and engineering. But in VW's post-Dieselgate world, there are signs that this is changing. Porsche is now a major competence center for the VW Group, handling development of various platforms and all V8s.
Given that, it's not impossible to see a world in which the R8 dies and the baby Lambo lives on thanks to Porsche. Even if this modular mid- and rear-engine platform could underpin a future R8.
And again, as Mertens notes, "never say never." Frankly, we'd still be surprised to see the R8 die totally, and in any case, we've got many more years with the current model. A twin-turbo V6 model is widely expected to appear as a successor to the original R8 V8, so there's that to look forward too.