Currently reading: New Audi RS5 estate is Audi Sport's first PHEV
Super-estate gets an aggressive makeover, more than 440bhp and rivals Mercedes-AMG's C63 PHEV

The new Audi RS5 Avant is due in 2025 as a fearsome sports estate that will kick off a move into electrification by the Audi Sport performance division.

The first plug-in hybrid from Audi Sport will be a successor to today’s pure-V6 RS4 but takes a new name in line with Audi’s plan to assign odd numbers to combustion cars and even ones to EVs. The equivalent electric model, badged RS4 E-tron, is expected to arrive by 2026.

While it gets a new name and a new look inside and out, Audi’s fast family estate is set to keep its 2.9-litre V6, but with the addition of an electric motor boosting output beyond the 444bhp and 443lb ft of today’s version. The next-generation A5 will continue to use the Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform.

However, it will be modified to allow plug-in hybrid versions to accommodate a larger, 14.4kWh battery, which gives the current A6 PHEV an electric range of 45 miles.

Notably, the Mercedes-AMG C63 – one of the RS5’s closest rivals – has also made the switch to a plug-in hybrid powertrain and now produces a colossal 671bhp and 752lb ft to match the outright pace of its V8-engined forebear.

The move to a PHEV powertrain for one of Audi Sport’s core models is part of a strategy by the performance division to ease the transition to electric powertrains towards 2035 and retain existing customers.

Rolf Michl, managing director of Audi Sport, told Autocar: “Even Audi Sport is electrifying, and up to there, we are thinking about and discussing plug-in hybrids.

“I wouldn’t focus on details of the engine concept but focus on the fact that the DNA of an RS model is always reflected, which means that you have everyday versatility and sheer driving performance.”

Currently, the only hybrids offered by Audi are the TFSIe versions of the A3, A6, A8, Q5, Q7 and Q8. In its most potent guise, Audi’s TFSIe set-up mates a 3.0-litre petrol turbocharged V6 to an electric motor for a total of 456bhp and a muscular 516lb ft of torque.

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No existing hot S or RS cars are offered in plug-in hybrid guise. Michl acknowledged that the transition to electric power is a “step-by-step” process because the firm does “not want to lose customers”. He admitted that he was “amazed” by the progression of the technology, which is expected to be fundamental for the brand over the next few years “as acceleration and dynamics play a more important role”.

BMW will provide a rival in the form of the next-generation M5, which will also use a plug-in hybrid powertrain and offer an estate body for the first time since 2007.

The first prototypes spotted in public reveal that Audi Sport’s maiden PHEV will make its performance billing evident, with heavily flared arches and huge, five-spoke sports wheels covering large-diameter drilled brake discs.

There is also a prominent air outlet behind the front wheel arches, and the front end looks to have been sculpted with an eye on optimising engine cooling and airflow. Saloon and Avant estate bodystyles will be offered for the standard A5 and each is unlikely to grow in size compared with the current A4. For reference, the existing model is 4772mm long, 1847mm wide and 1435mm tall.

Only the estate has been spotted testing in full-bore RS guise so far and it is not yet confirmed if Audi plans to offer a saloon version, as Mercedes-AMG does with the C63. Despite its slower shift to an EV line-up, Michl told Autocar that Audi Sport will be able to keep pace with Audi’s wider electrification programme. “We are acting very synergistically,” he said.

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“We have technology synergy with [parent company] Audi AG, so the main decision we have to take is which model has to be approached in what kind of way.”

When asked if the brand is concerned about its customers’ immediate reaction to going electric, Michl said: “I think there’s also a path together with the customers. We’re looking car by car and we clearly have a close view to the usage profile.”

Giving an example, he said: “The RS4 and RS6 are everyday cars used for longer distances, so probably the path [to electrification] is not [an abrupt] one. We will go for hybridisation and you will see that people will say that they are happy about the additional value for it being electrified.”

It is unclear which powertrain Audi will use to replace the mild-hybrid V8 in the current RS6, but with a new A6 – rebadged as A7 – on the way and the limited-run RS6 GT revealed as a celebratory run-out version of the 621bhp family wagon, a plug-in hybrid successor is not expected to be far away.

The MLB platform that underpins the newly renamed A5 and A7 model lines has been upgraded in recent Audi models to include a new electric architecture with 48V capability.

This enables the adoption of additional functions such as the Dynamic All-Wheel Steering system used by the A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q8, as well as new level-two autonomous driving functions currently being developed by Audi’s Car.Software division.

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Autocar understands the new A5 will run an updated version of the current model’s aluminium-intensive multi-link front and rear suspension, with adaptive damping on selected models.

Earlier speculation suggested that the next A5 would receive rear air springs, but these may be reserved exclusively for the electric A4 E-tron.

Jonathan Bryce

Jonathan Bryce
Title: Editorial Apprentice

Jonathan is an editorial assitant working with Autocar. He has held this position since March 2024, having previously studied at the University of Glasgow before moving to London to become an editorial apprentice and pursue a career in motoring journalism. 

His role at work involves writing news stories, travelling to launch events and interviewing some of the industry's most influential executives, rewriting used car reviews and used car advice articles, updating and uploading articles for the Autocar website and making sure they are optimised for search engines, and regularly appearing on Autocar's social media channels including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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YaretziMeredith 5 May 2023

I get paid more than $200 to $400 per hour for working online. I heard about this job 3 months ago and after joining this I have earned easily $30k from this without having online working skills . x11 Simply give it a shot on the accompanying site…

Here is I started.…………>> w­w­w.j­o­b­s­r­e­v­e­n­u­e.c­o­m

Andrew1 4 May 2023
The new naming scheme is daft. Even worse than BMW's odd numbers = 2 doors nonsense.
Mikey C 4 May 2023

From a marketing pov that sounds like a confusing way of badging their existing models, when the existing A4 badge is so established.