Audi Sport, the division responsible for the company’s high-performance RS models and the R8 supercar, and once known as quattro GmbH, has no intention of spinning off hot derivatives of every model in the company’s range.
So says the company’s chief executive Stephan Winkelmann, who crossed over from fellow Volkswagen Group brand Lamborghini a year ago.
Every new Audi Sport model or derivative, he says, must have global scale (be right- and left-hand drive) and bring something unique to the table, for example the RS3’s five-cylinder engine in a class dominated by fours and sixes.
This appears to mean that simply putting a body kit and a big engine in certain cars just to have them for their own sake makes no sense, the Q7 and A1 being likely examples. (Although an extra-special version of the S1 did appear.)
We spoke with Winkelmann — an ‘honorary Italian’ following his tenure leading the Raging Bull brand — at the Bathurst 12-hour last week. Australia is the world’s fourth-biggest RS market, and a growing client for Audi Sport’s GT3 customer racing programs.
“We are going for exclusiveness rather than volume,” he claimed. “So we pick the right segments. Just saying every Audi coming out has to be RS, have a bigger engine... [no], our choice is not to have a pure volume approach, but to pick projects very carefully.”
This means that some Audi models clearly won’t have a RS derivative, though the presence of the RS Q3 suggests the company is pragmatic enough to temper ultimate performance if the body style suggests sufficient sales.
“We have to pick very carefully because we can’t just do everything we want,” he added, also saying that he had to consider whether to work-in programs for future Audis we haven’t seen yet, including future electrified offerings.
“I’m only a year in the company and what I see is that we have a release of a lot of future models, also new models that are not in model line up of today, so this is not locking us in for the future.”
Winkelmann would not be drawn on too many specifics regarding future models, but did give us some clues. We asked him when we’d see the B9 generation RS4, and whether it’d come in both Avant and sedan body types this time.
“What I can tell you is we invested in the B segment (mid-sized) and we will have the first big news at the Geneva motor show [in March this year]. It will be a good thing,” he said.
The RS4 is the likely first candidate, though Audi is testing a new RS5 as well.
We also asked about the potential for an RS Q5 derivative, taking the massively successful petrol and diesel (the latter only in this market) SQ5, and building on it with something more extreme.
“I think there is a market in general for Q models, more than just the RS Q3, and this is something we are looking into,” he responded. Ergo, expect more performance crossovers soon. Perhaps even a RS Q8.