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Frankfurt show: Next Audi RS4 to lose V8

Too late for eight: Audi’s hot-rod RS4 may use electric oomph to spice up a twin-turbo V6 when it is launched in 2016 (current model pictured).

Audi’s next RS4 will downsize from V8 to bi-turbo six, but could add electrification

17 Sep 2015


AUDI will downsize the mighty RS4 when the new-generation performance flagship of the A4 range launches in late 2016, potentially replacing its fire-breathing turbocharged V8 with a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine that may have electric motor assistance.

Audi AG board member for technical development Ulrich Hackenberg revealed at the Frankfurt motor show this week that while the V8 engine will still be used within the brand, smaller cars would miss out going forward.

“We will have a V8 for the C-class (medium/large) cars, also for the big SUVs,” Dr Ulrich Hackenberg said. “We will not have V8 for the A4, for example, for the smaller car. There is a trend that the engines will be smaller.”

The current RS4 is offered in Australia in Australia in Avant (wagon) form only – priced from $151,010 plus on-road costs – and is powered by a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 that develops 331kW at no less than 8250rpm and 430Nm of torque between 4000rpm and 6000rpm.

Driving all four wheels via a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox and Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, the current RS4 can reach 100km/h from standstill in a claimed 4.7 seconds. Its combined-cycle fuel consumption is 10.7L/100km.

As reported, the new-generation S4 unveiled in Frankfurt this week (pictured below) has stuck with a 3.0-litre V6 with forced induction, although the newly developed 260kW engine is turbocharged rather than supercharged and is lighter, more powerful and efficient.

The S4 can also now reach 100km/h in an RS4-matching 4.7s.

Dr Hackenberg explained that the trend for downsizing engines was in full swing, and that there were other ways now to add performance.

“There is a trend that the engines will be smaller. It’s a question of how we can turn our core values into new technologies. For example, if you take sportiness – sportiness and electro-mobility are not going different ways,” he said.

“There is big torque available with electric motors in the car with high acceleration. You can make a very sporty vehicle, but maybe different to sportiness of today. If you want to have a car that is going high speed on the highway for a long time, a (full) electric car maybe is wrong.

“If you transfer the sportiness in acceleration, to overtake somebody or to be first after the traffic light, then the electric concept are definitely the winner.”

The inherent advantage of an electric motor is the availability of all of the engine’s torque from zero revs, which can be used to fill a gap in response times of a turbocharged engine.

Dr Hackenberg said that “specific hybridisation” would feature in all Audis going forward, pointing out that this could take many forms.

“We’ll have electric turbos. We will have reincorporation based on electric generators. We’ll have micro-hybrids, then very sporty full hybrids, for example. We’ll have plug-in hybrids. I think electrification in a specific way will be standard in the future,” he said.

Dr Hackenberg confirmed that the unique 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine used in cars like the RS3 would survive, while development continues on a production version of the high-output the 2.0-litre turbocharged EA888 that featured in 2014’s TT Quattro concept.

The cutting-edge inline four engine produced 313kW and 450Nm in the TT Quattro, and featured an array of advanced technologies like direct/indirect fuel injection, vented pistons, variable valve timing and a peak boost capacity of 1.8bar.

“The five-cylinder is a specific Audi engine,” he said. “The necessity of this high-performance engine is not only for Audi but is also for other brands. (The high-output EA888) is still under development.”

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