Audi Sport is ramping up its electrification offensive under new management, and will next year introduce the RS branding to a battery-powered model in the form of the production E-tron GT sedan.
The sister model to the Porsche Taycan, set to be offered in regular, S and high-performance RS trims throughout its existence, is also likely to be joined by an RS version of Audi’s recently revealed E-tron Sportback. A number of plug-in hybrid RS models are also on the cards, while a new E-tron version of the current-generation R8 is tipped to appear next year as a prelude to a possible all-electric R8 replacement in a few years’ time.
The plan for the Audi Sport division to embrace hybrid and electric propulsion has been devised under the joint management of directors Oliver Hoffmann and Julius Seebach. Expanding into new EV and PHEV markets is the priority, now that the division’s SUV offensive is well under way; this year it has launched the RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback, the diesel-powered SQ5 and both SQ8 and RS Q8 range flagships.
Speaking at the recent Los Angeles motor show, Seebach confirmed that the E-tron GT – revealed in concept form at last year’s LA show and later driven by our sister publication Autocar UK – will be offered with the same three powertrain choices as traditional Audi models, such as the A6, S6 and RS6.
The concept E-tron GT featured a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive electric powertrain making 590hp and around 813Nm of torque. A 96kWh battery gave a claimed range of 400km, with 0-100kph quoted in 3.5sec. The production version, which will make its debut at next year’s LA motor show, will share its J1 electrical architecture with the Taycan, but it’s not clear if Porsche’s three-variant line-up, comprising the 530hp 4S, the 680hp Turbo and 761hp Turbo S, will transfer over with identical specs.
More likely is that the base E-tron GT will start at a lower output, and therefore a lower price point, than the base Taycan. Both cars will use the same 800V electrical architecture, however, and weigh about the same. Expect standard and S models at launch, with the RS arriving slightly later.
Seebach also confirmed that plug-in hybrids are formally under development by Audi Sport’s engineers. The powertrains will be introduced on the next generation of RS models, and it is understood that the first Audi RS model to be offered as a PHEV will be the next-generation RS4.
That car will compete head to head with the next Mercedes-AMG C63, which, as confirmed in October, will ditch the current car’s V8 in favour of a 507hp-plus plug-in hybrid four-cylinder powertrain. It will also be four-wheel drive, challenging Audi Sport’s long-established quattro system when it arrives in early 2022. Expect the new RS4 to arrive slightly later, given that the current model only went on sale last year.
The Porsche Taycan is set to arrive in the Indian market by mid-2020. However, it’s still unclear whether or not Audi will bring the E-tron GT here.