If you’re a performance automaker facing increasing CO2 and pollution restrictions, what do you do? For Audi, the response is to forge ahead with RS models and pull a Han Solo: fire first.
This is basically what Audi’s RS captain, Heinz Peter Hollerweger, recently indicated the company would do. Right now in the U.S., RS models are rare, which is a shame because they’re awesome. This means that the U.S.–and China, too–are seen by Audi as unharvested markets for the RS line. The reason, says Hollerweger, is simple, “[P]eople with money still want to buy horsepower.”
So while the U.S. currently has only the RS5, we could see and RS4, RS6 and even an RS1, according to Audi’s performance chief. But the really interesting thing about these models is how exactly they’re powered. Caps for CO2 and pollution around the world are becoming increasingly prominent, particularly as we near 2020, a popular regulatory deadline for many countries.
The discussion for RS therefore becomes about fuel: diesel, electric, turbocharging, supercharging, natural aspiration, and the number of cylinders that are used. Most RS models in Europe have five cylinders with a ceiling of about 400 horsepower. Diesel is known for its strong, eventual delivery of torque, and electric is the leader for off-the-line delivery of torque. Turbocharging and supercharging mimic the effects of both, respectively, for gasoline-powered engines.
Audi’s performance-minded sibling, Porsche, seems to have chosen its path: twin-turbocharged V6 engines. But then Audi and Porsche have very different philosophies in nearly every respect. One thing that both share is increasing pressure to not use V8 engines. Audi is holding onto the V8 in RS models, and even a naturally aspirated V10 for the R8. Whether the V8 engine survives the next couple of years will be an interesting drama to watch.
Stop by Audi Cary to check out performance models like the RS 5.