Audi RS6 E-tron due as 600bhp EV performance estate

Audi’s hot S- and RS families to switch to battery power, led by RS6E-tron

Audi is preparing to launch its last internal-combustion vehicle in five years. Now, it’s time to transform its Audi Sport division into an e-only performance brand.

Audi Sport has a larger portfolio of petrol and diesel cars than ever before. It includes uprated S- and RS-badged versions every model in Audi’s ICE lineup, except the A1 Sportback supermini. However, the hot E-tron GT is still its only electric RS model. Hot versions of the Etron and Etron Sportback SUVs are branded with an S badge. The division has yet not shown more powerful derivatives of Q4 Etron and Q4 Etron Sportback.

This trend is expected to change quickly, in accordance with Audi’s larger plans to offer more electric models globally by 2025 and for electrified vehicles to account for 40%.

Audi Sport’s future electric vision is revealed in the RS E-tron GT, which shows how it will differentiate itself from its regular counterparts.

The transformation plan will ensure that Audi’s product line-up, which currently comprises 17 models lines, remains diverse and complete. To avoid losing customers along its way, a replacement for each model is possible. The recently unveiled A6 Etron concept is a strong preview of the electric successor to the A6. It will be offered with an Audi Sport-tuned performance range-topper, as it did its predecessor.

The A6 E-tron will not replace the A6, but it will be a market leader in the EV market. Audi bosses almost confirmed that an estate model is also on the horizon.

The RS6 Avant will be getting an electric successor, continuing a line of models that dates back to 2002’s V10-engined C5 generations.

The current C8-generation RS6 was launched two years after the standard RS6. However, the RS6 Etron could be launched in the same year as the standard RS6 Etron in 2023. This follows the lead set by the Etron GT and RS Etron GT.

They will likely be closer in design than the A6 and RS6. Given the subtle differences between the hot and standard versions of current Audi EVs you can expect a slight toning of the RS6’s flared arches and outlandish wheels, and prominent rear spoiler.

Audi’s regular A6 Etron will be the second model to adopt the PPE architecture for electric vehicles that Audi has co-developed with Porsche. This follows the Q6 Etron SUV which is a sister model of Porsche’s Macan Electric Vehicle. It will allow flexibility in drivetrain layouts as well as power outputs.

The A6 Etron concept features one electric motor per axle, resulting in a combined output of 469bhp & 590lb ft. This is less power than the RS6’s 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged petrol engine V8. However, it produces exactly as much torque.

The RS6 E-tron will, however, be able to compete more effectively with full-bore performance EVs currently being created by BMW’s M division as well as Mercedes-AMG.

It is expected to be very similar to the outputs of the top-rung RS E-tron GT. With 637bhp (or 590bhp when it’s in ‘overboost mode), and 612lb ft to offset its inevitable extra weight, a 0-62mph speed of just under 3.0sec seems highly probable.

However, it is not clear if the PPE platform, an evolution of J1 architecture that was used by the E-tron GT, and its Porsche Taycan sibling, can hold more than one motor. The E-tron Sportback and E-tronS SUVs have a tri-motor setup, but they are based on modified MLB Evo underpinnings. These underpinnings are also used by the largest ICE models in the Volkswagen Group.

The A6 Etron concept shows that the PPE platform can hold a 100 kWh battery pack. This is good for a range of over 435 miles.

Although the RS6 Etron will not be able match this figure, it will be able to take advantage of the PPE platform’s ability for rapid-charging rates up to 270kW. This could allow it to gain up to 186 mile range in as little as 10 minutes. It will also have comparable interior space and load capacities to the RS6’s RS6 because it has a battery pack spread across the cabin floor, and the wheels are pushed to the corners.

The PPE platform’s other highlight is its ability to support both SUV-sized models and smaller-slung models in premium segments. This allows for full flexibility regarding wheelbase length and battery size.

Porsche plans to use it in a compact sports saloon that will sit below the Taycan. However, it could be shortened further to support an electric successor to Audi’s TT coupe. This is an uncertain year for Audi, which is entering its eighth and final year of sales.

Autocar reported last year that the TT supercar and the R8 supercar could have been removed from Audi’s lineup as part of a cost consolidation program initiated by CEO Markus Duesmann. Audi could pursue a new electric sports car with the PPE platform’s flexibility, and potential for high-level component sharing with other Volkswagen Group models, however.

Audi bosses confirmed to Autocar that the future of TT was the subject “emotional conversations” at a high-level because of low sales in sports cars segment, which could threaten the possibility of a replacement.

Porsche is working on its own E-core platform to underpin electric versions of the 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster, with the batteries stacked behind the seats to imitate the current mid-engined sports cars’ distinctive handling characteristics.Article continues below advertisementBack to top

It is unlikely that any successor to the front-engined, four-seat TT will adopt this setup. A shorter version of the flat-floored PPE platform would be a better candidate. This would enable rear-driven and Quattro versions of the current model. It also allows for practicality and keen dynamics to be maintained.

Audi had hinted in 2014 that a four-door, jacked-up successor to the TT would be coming through the TT Offroad concept. However, the Q4 Etron Sportback, which is similar in size and shape, is now available, leaving a space for the TT to remain in the sports coupe segment where it continues to be a strong seller.

Audi Sport’s most significant models thus far

1980 Quattro The Quattro was the first rally car to benefit from the WRC’s relaxed regulations that allowed four-wheel drive. It won numerous rallies and helped to design the layout for many other future title-winning cars.

1994 RS2 Avant This was the genesis of Audi’s RS model. Thanks to its Quattro four wheel drive system, it was quicker than the McLaren F1 from 0-30 mph.

2002 RS6 Available in a stylish saloon or a spacious estate, the first RS6 was the model that set the standard for Audi’s iconic Q cars. Limited-run RS6 Plus had a 473bhp Cosworth-designed V8 that could go 174 mph.

2006 R8 Named after Audi’s Le Mans winning prototypes, R8 was the first supercar made by the company. It was available with a V8 at its launch and later a V10, making it a staple in the supercar scene of late 2000s.

2021 RS Etron GT: Audi’s most powerful road car and first production performance EV, the RS Etron GT was 637bhp. It marked a new era in Audi’s sports cars.

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