Last week Car & Driver was in Portugal to drive the new R8, and while there they managed some time with quattro GmbH boss Heinz Hollerweger. During that discussion, C&D turned to the subject of the RS 4 and RS 5. Hollerweger was surprisingly forthcoming on plans and further hints of plans, including specifics for the USA.
Those who follow the RS 4, lust for it even, know that the model launched as an Avant only during the B5 era with a hotter (then Audi owned) Cosworth tuned version of the 2.7-liter V6 biturbo. The car disappeared during the B6 generation then returned during B7 with the addition of sedan and Cabriolet models and powered by the same high-rev 4.2 FSI sold in the R8 and paired with manual transmission.
During the B8 era, the 4.2 FSI remained albeit paired now with a 7-speed S-tronic (DSG) transmission and the manual was dropped. The sedan disappeared, replaced by the RS 5 coupe and of course the Cabriolet shifted to the RS 5 body style as well. Though an A5 Sportback was offered, Audi chose not to make an RS version of that body style.
Fast forward to this summer and the B9 A4’s just been revealed. Given the timing, many details of the upcoming B9 RS-cars have been leaked and so Car & Driver pressed Hollerweger further. Hollerweger didn’t disappoint, and here’s a rundown of what he either confirmed or revealed.
Confirmed: RS 4 and S4 Engines
As already revealed in rumor stories, the RS 4 will drop the 4.2 high-rev in favor for a new V6 biturbo while the S4 will carry on with the 3.0 TFSI supercharged V6. The new RS-spec biturbo V6 will have more power than the outgoing 450 hp V8-powered RS 4 Avant. Hollerweger confirmed that much, though we’ve heard more in the past. This includes likely 3.0-liter displacement with turbochargers packaged within the V much like the 4.0 TFSI. It’ll power the RS 5 range as well, and don’t be surprised to see it come in a version of the R8 as well.
Confirmed: RS 4 Avant Bodystyle Only
Hollerweger confirmed the RS 4 will be Avant only because that is what customers expect of the RS 4. While America typically isn’t an Avant market, that doesn’t mean we won’t get it… but it also doesn’t mean that we will. Hollerweger sited America and China as Audi’s sources for greatest growth and that bodes well for model expansion. He also pointed out that America is buying more Avants, meaning there’s more of a business case for such models. Whether or not that includes the RS 4 Avant, Hollerweger wouldn’t confirm.
Left unsaid, there doesn’t appear to be enough market for an RS 4 sedan. With the RS 5, an RS 4 sedan would be redundant and not likely sell in great enough number to make sense. We’d been told back during the B7 era that American demand and volume were what made the sedan possible. That demand is substantially eroded when you consider the RS 5, particularly when the B9 RS 5 arrives (see below).
Not completely new intel, but confirmed by Hollerweger, is the fact that the RS-cars will come earlier in the cycle. Whereas the B8 RS 4 and RS 5 Cabriolet didn’t come until the mid-lifecycle facelift (same for American RS 5 coupes), expect this generation of RS 4 and RS 5 to drop shortly after the B9s arrive. Over the years, Audi has seen more long-term demand for RS-cars, so dropping them late in the production cycle is no longer necessary for the business case.
Hinted: RS 5 Sportback
We’ve already heard that the A5 Sportback is being seriously considered for the USA and may already be approved depending on who we ask in the distribution chain. Adding fuel to that rumor is Hollerweger’s suggestion that customers in growth markets like America and China may “prefer the hatchback”, i.e. an RS 5 Sportback may not just be in the works, it may too already be planned for the USA.
Check out Car & Driver for more information from this intel story. You can find it HERE. Also worth noting, the image above is a render by our staff and the latest added to our B9 RS 4 render gallery. Find those images via our gallery link below and also to the right of this story.