Audi RS: All the Future Models, Including Those for the U.S.
A breakdown of what's coming and when.
The folks at Audi Sport—the arm of the German automaker responsible for RS vehicle—have been busy, and fortunately many of the mega-hot vehicles they've been crafting will cross the ocean to North America. This year alone will see six new high-performance RS models, including two new nameplates, as part of a plan to double performance vehicle sales by 2023. Per usual, the U.S. does not get them all. But the offerings are pretty tasty, and we will see more than our usual share. Below, check out the cars coming from Audi Sport and when to expect them, as well as details on some of Audi's other new and next-generation products.
RS Q3/SQ3: The U.S. might once again get an SQ3 when the next-generation compact sedan launches; executives are gauging reaction to the regular Q3 in this market first. Only Europe gets the RS Q3 Sportback, which launches this year and is one of the new nameplates being added. Audi will not make an RS Q5 or RS Q7 for any market. Resources are limited, and consumers can opt for the SQ5 and SQ7, the company reasons.
RS4 Avant: We still won't get the current RS4 Avant, although hope springs eternal for the next-generation model. Europeans will see the RS4 get a mid-cycle refresh next year, however, and that next-gen model will be a plug-in hybrid, says Oliver Hoffmann, Audi Sport managing director and head of technical development. The RS5 will also get a facelift, and that we will see on our shores.
RS6 Avant: After years of pleading, North America finally gets a new version of Audi's hottest wagon, in this case the all-new 591-hp RS6 Avant pictured at the top of this post. It arrives next year as a mild hybrid with a 48-volt system, and it has an even more aggressive look than ever before after complaints that RS models were starting to look too soft. This, plus a move to make it more upscale, provides more differentiation from S models. Hildegard Wortmann, Audi's board member for marketing and sales, has high expectations for the RS6 Avant in the U.S. given its fanbase and the years of pent-up desire. Product planner Filip Brabec, vice president of product management for Audi of America, says he thinks it will exceed Audi's sales projections, but wouldn't share any figures. As if that isn't tasty enough, we were told there could be more Avants in store for the U.S. in the future. Can we suggest the new RS4?
RS7: Audi used the 2019 Frankfurt auto show for the world premiere of the sexy fastback RS7, which goes on sale in Europe late this year and comes to the U.S. next year, likely in the spring. We also got to drive the car just after the show, finding it to be a fearsome beast indeed. Its timing places the RS model about 18 months after the conventional A7's debut, but Audi Sport wants to shorten its lead times and launch RS models just six months after the commensurate mainstream version. This means less time to get any bugs sorted out, which presents a greater challenge for the engineering team, but doing so would allow Audi to offer higher-margin versions more quickly.
R8: The R8 with its naturally aspirated V-10 remains the flagship and spirit of the portfolio, Hoffmann says. It just got a refresh, and Audi is working on concepts for the next generation and contemplating how much electrification it will receive. No decisions have been made on the next generation, he says. It might even get a new name—again no decision, he tells us. Post-refresh, expect additional R8 derivatives to keep the flagship relevant.
RS Q8: We expect to see the new RS Q8 at this November's Los Angeles auto show. German executives tell us they think the Q8's shape lends itself well to a sporty version, and the RS model will pack Audi's torque-vectoring sport differential, trick anti-roll bars, and air suspension. Like most RS models, it will have the luscious-sounding 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8.
A1/Q2: These little beauties are considered too small for the U.S. market. There are no plans to bring either here.
A3/A4: An all-new A3 will come to the U.S., likely in 2021, while the convertible is being discontinued for 2020. Wortmann says Audi has no plans to stop selling small cars like the A3 in the U.S. even though some automakers are abandoning the segment. "There is still enough demand," she says. "We need to offer a broad choice." No word yet on whether we will once again get an RS3, but we hope so—the current model is fantastic. The American market will of course see the next A4, and we've been told it stays a proper Audi after some internal hand-wringing.
A6 Allroad: All indications are we will once again get an A6 Allroad; the last time one was sold in the U.S. was more than a decade ago. The final decision hasn't been made official via announcement, but top German executives, including Hoffaman, tell us the wagon is headed for the U.S. We expect confirmation soon, after the U.S. arm finishes presenting its business case with a price point and projected volumes.
A8/S8: The A8 family includes an S8 for Europe this year—and the U.S. soon after—but no decisions have been made for a performance RS model. The A8 gets a first-ever plug-in-hybrid model later this year or early 2020, followed by the A7 PHEV in mid-2020. The A6 PHEV is for Europe only. In the U.S., green-leaning customers will be steered toward the e-tron.
Q5/Q7: The Q5, Q5 Sportback, and Q7 are all slated for refreshes next year. The Q5 gets a plug-in next year and is expected to be the volume model.
e-tron: Dealers are now stocked with the e-tron SUV, and there is more to come. We first saw the e-tron Sportback concept in Shanghai in 2017. The production model should be shown soon (we expect it at the L.A. show) and it should hit U.S. showrooms late next year or in early 2021. The fully electric e-tron GT EV will be shown in its final form next year, and production will begin in 2020. U.S. sales will likely not begin until 2021. The e-tron GT uses the same 800-volt system as the Porsche Taycan, and execs believe the GT could become a future icon for the brand like the R8 and TT. Sporty cars are key to Audi's DNA, design chief Marc Lichte says. "There will always be sporty or sports cars, even with electrification." In addition, many plug-in hybrids are in the works; a third of the lineup will have a PHEV available in the U.S. by 2025. The Q4 e-tron compact crossover is expected in the U.S. in 2021. It uses the Volkswagen Group's MEB platform, which is spawning a family of small electric vehicles such as the VW ID 3 in Europe and an ID 4 expected for the U.S.
A version of this story originally appeared on MotorTrend.