Audi has unleashed its performance division. Named Audi Sport, the sub-brand has more freedom than ever to develop models on its own in order to better compete against Mercedes-AMG and BMW M. The expansion plan includes a series of high-riding models with supercar-like performance credentials, one of the company’s top executives has revealed.
“We don’t have a big lineup. The right cars means having them in segments that are growing, and also segments that are equally distributed in the regions of the world. Therefore a CUV shift is due; we are working on it, and you will see it coming,” promised company boss Stephen Winkelmann in an interview with Car & Driver.
Winkelmann came to Audi from Lamborghini, where he oversaw the development of the upcoming Urus. He knows the ins and outs of making a big, heavy SUV go like a low-slung sports car, and he’s eager to share that knowledge with his team at Audi. Insiders suggest the next high-riding RS models will be based on the Q7 and the production version of the Q8 Concept. They’ll both use an Audi-specific version of the twin-turbocharged V8 engine found under the hood of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.
Audi Sport doesn’t have quite as much freedom as its rival from Stuttgart. Notably, it won’t develop another standalone model to sit alongside the R8; at least not in the foreseeable future. That means the stunning, heritage-laced Sport Quattro concept introduced at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show will not spawn a production car.
That’s a big letdown for enthusiasts. As a consolation prize, though, Car & Driver reports Audi of America is secretly putting together a business case for a U.S.-spec variant of the next-generation RS 6 Avant. The track-ready grocery hauler has never been sold here because wagons are unpopular at best, but some of the brand’s top executives believes there’s a small market for a niche model like the RS 6.
If it receives permission to travel across the pond, the Audi RS 6 will arrive around 2019.