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.