Audi Sport ready to compete in US with assault on AMG, BMW M
Audi RS models are elusive in the United States. Over the past decade or more, enthusiasts in America have watched with envy as European buyers were offered RS models unavailable the U.S. Now, it appears, more of that cool stuff from Europe is coming to America.
The RS models are built by Audi Sport, Audi’s performance division. At the New York auto show, Audi Sport announced eight new RS models are coming to our shores in the next 24 months.
Audi Sport vs. RS models
The current Audi Sport lineup has only one RS model, one S and two R models. The range consists of the R8, R8 Spyder, and the 605-horsepower S8 Plus and RS 7. Moving forward, it will get far more RS models.
Why the distinction between RS and the others?
The R8 is obvious. It represents the top of the Audi Sport lineup, but not all Audi Sport models have what it takes to qualify as an RS model, even though they fall under the Audi Sport range. The 2016 S8 Plus was an example.
“There we had the discussion. Is it an RS 8 or is it an S8 Plus?” said Stephan Reil, head of Audi Sport Product Development in an interview at the New York auto show. “On straight performance, no question. 605 horses. It’s good for straight performance to label it an RS. But to reach the other goals we have for an RS the car would have been much more aggressive from the design side. In order to reach our driving dynamic goals, the ride would have been much more uncomfortable than it is now. Our marketing people said the customer wants outstanding performance straight, good cornering—but not outstanding. Not racetrack because you don’t use an S8 for racetracks. There are other track tools that are suited better on the track. So the decision was made that it’s not an RS 8. It will be an S8 Plus.”
Audi already has announced three of the RS models headed for our shores. They consist of the 2018 TT RS and 2018 Audi RS 3, both of which are motivated by a 400-hp turbocharged inline-5, and the 2018 Audi RS 5, which gets a 450-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6. The TT RS and RS 3 are due this summer, while the RS 5 hits the market in the first half of 2018.
That leaves five additional RS models to come. With a new A4/S4 on the market, an RS 4 would be a natural.
For the rest of those models, we can look at what’s available in Europe. Buyers across the pond can pick from the RS 3 Sportback, TT RS Roadster, RS Q3, and RS 6 Avant. The RS 3 Sportback and TT RS Roadster are versions of RS models already announced for the U.S., so they could come right over to our shores. The RS 6 Avant is a wagon version of the aging A6, so that could come for a year or two and quickly fade away or Audi could decide to wait for the next-generation A6 platform to offer an RS 6, and it would probably be a sedan in the U.S.