The official communication from Ducati reads: ‘save the date: The sound of a new age is near’. This, in all possibility, indicates the emergence of a new V4 motor that will replace the Panigale L-twins. The ‘sound’ here could accurately mean the sound of a V4, which vastly differs from Ducati’s traditional L-twin drone. ‘A new age could mean a forthcoming line-up of Ducati’s Panigale motorbikes which have concentrated on performance more than anything else. The imminent V4-powered bike has been no secret, with Ducati’s CEO Claudio Domenicali spilling the beans during the MotoGP team presentation for the 2017 season. He mentioned the presence of a road-worthy V4 motor built using learnings from Moto-GP. The engine, he said, is very consistent, very light, and more compact and has a lot of interesting technology. Whispers in the grapevine suggest two V-4 motors, alike to the exotic Panigale line-up which uses an 1198-cc L-twin and a more exotic 1285-cc L-twin. The V-4’s are rumoured to come in 1000cc and 1200cc guises.
Power too is projected to be more than the 1198’s 205-PS. The motor can trace its roots back to 2015 when Ducati showcased its second-gen Desmosedici MotoGP motor. Ducati is said to have laid the blueprint for a road-legal V4 built around the MotoGP motor. There have been spy pics floating around which shows what appears to be a V4 hidden away behind a monocoque chassis and bodywork similar to the Panigale. Going by the less exotic materials (no carbon fibre) used, it appears this is the road-going version. The new V4 might replace the L-twin in Ducati’s next WSBK outing. Now under WSBK homologation rules, the road-going bike which the race bike is based on cannot cost more than 40,000 Euros (approx Rs.30 lakhs). So it is possible that the range-topping bike might cost that much while the base version could cost somewhere between Rs.20-25 lakh. This isn’t the first V4 for the mass market though. In 2007, Ducati launched the Desmosedici RR – a road-legal version of their MotoGP race bike. It was a 200PS (back in 2007!) bike with production limited to 1500 units. Today, it is highly sought after by collectors. We are not sure what will happen to the Ducati L-twins. Maybe they will remain in production in other guises. However, it is certain that the new V4-powered will take up the Ducati’s Panigale performance mantle.