In case you've missed the memo, Audi will launch its final new car powered by a combustion engine in a couple of years as every new product from 2026 will be purely electric. From 2033, the luxury brand will only sell EVs, with a possible exception in China where local demand could determine the Four Rings to continue production of ICE cars. Before the gradual switch to EVs begins, conventionally powered performance cars will go out with a bang.
After announcing in an interview with Autocar the next-gen A8 will premiere in 2024 as the production-ready Grandsphere, the company's design boss sat down and had a chat with Top Gear magazine. When asked about the plans for gasoline-fueled cars that appeal to enthusiasts, Marc Lichte jumped at the opportunity to hype up the RS finale for combustion engines:
"I promise you, both EVs and ICE will be impressive. Especially the last-generation ICE RS models, they will be bwoah… mind-blowing."
Audi RS6 Avant Performance
He refrained from sharing details since the interview largely revolved around electric vehicles. However, we already know the next-generation RS4 and RS6 will utilize plug-in hybrid powertrains, so the days of pure ICE models with an RS badge are numbered. The R8 is going away, and so is the TT RS, while the RS Q3 and its Sportback counterpart are unlikely to retain the five-cylinder mill after this generation.
As far as EVs are concerned, the 2021 A6 E-Tron concept is a "very concrete" preview of the subsequent production car, which will retain 90 percent of the styling. Marc Lichte mentioned a widebody version is in the works for an RS6 E-Tron, complete with larger wheels and wider tracks.
Let's keep in mind Audi has also introduced an A6 Avant E-Tron, and logic tells us the road-going RS6 will be a wagon. That said, it's worth pointing out there have been RS6 Sedans in the past but that was before the days of the RS7 Sportback which serves as an indirect replacement. The head of design in Ingolstadt told Top Gear the RS6 E-Tron will become his daily driver, which is already an electric car as Lichte currently uses an e-Tron GT.
The man in charge of Audi's designs says the A6 E-Tron, Q6 E-Tron, and future electric RS models have already been presented internally during a meeting in Berlin with 1,000 managers. Their reaction? "They went crazy when they saw the images and the models on the stage."