As Audi gears up to launch its final internal-combustion car in just five years’ time, the race is on to transition its Audi Sport division into an electric-only performance brand.
Audi Sport’s portfolio of petrol and diesel cars is larger than ever before, comprising uprated S and RS-badged versions of every model in Audi’s ICE line-up except for the Audi A1 Sportback supermini. The hot E-tron GT, however, remains its only electric RS offering. The hot versions of the Audi Audi E-tron and E-tron Sportback SUVs wear just an S badge and the division has yet to show more potent derivatives of the new Q4 E-tron and Q4 E-tron Sportback.
That trend is set to reverse rapidly in line with Audi’s wider plans to offer more than 20 electric models worldwide by 2025 and for electrified cars to account for 40% of its sales.
The RS E-tron GT offers a glimpse at Audi Sport’s electric future and indicates how its offerings will be differentiated from their regular counterparts.
Crucial to the transformation plan will be maintaining the variety and completeness of Audi’s line-up (which today comprises 17 model lines) to avoid losing customers along the way, so a near-direct replacement for every current model is on the cards. For example, the recently revealed A6 E-tron concept heavily previews the electric successor to today’s Audi A6, and it will no doubt follow its predecessor in being offered with a performance range-topper tuned by Audi Sport.
Although the A6 E-tron isn’t intended as an immediate replacement for the A6, it will occupy the equivalent segment in the EV market, and Audi bosses have all but confirmed that an estate version is on the way, too.
All of which means the RS6 Avant is due an electric successor as well, continuing a model line that stretches back to the V10-engined C5 generation of 2002.
While the current C8-generation RS6 arrived two years after the standard A6, the RS6 E-tron could well be launched at the same time as the standard A6 E-tron in 2023, following the example set by the E-tron GT and RS E-tron GT.
The two are likely to be more closely matched in terms of design than the current A6 and RS6, too, given the subtle differences between standard and hot versions of current Audi EVs, so expect a slight toning down of the RS6’s flared arches, outlandish wheels and prominent rear spoiler.
The regular A6 E-tron will be the second Audi model to use the premium-focused PPE architecture for EVs that Audi is co-developing with Porsche (following the Q6 E-tron SUV, a sister model to Porsche’s Macan EV) and that will offer the flexibility of various drivetrain layouts and power outputs.