Scorching new Audi RS4 Avant spied, set to get V6 turbo

Audi RS4 Avant spies front

Audi‘s new S4 will soon be available to order, but the compact exec hasn’t reached its performance peak yet. Our spies have again captured the next RS4 out and about in disguise, and it’s expected to launch some time next year.

Although previous spies have shown an S4 with some very subtle tweaks, this camouflaged prototype sports the tell-tale twin oval exhaust pipes that are now found across all RS models. Larger air intakes at the front and a lower ride height also give the game away. 

Auto Express was previously told that the next RS4 Avant, and the subsequent RS5 Coupe, will use the 3.0-litre forced-induction V6 form the S4 with electric turbocharging tech to beef it up to at least 480bhp. Both torque, performance and efficiency should be improved greatly over the old, 444bhp 4.2-litre V8. 

• New Audi A4 review.

Audi RS4 Avant spies rear

Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi’s head of technical development, explained that a small electric turbocharger can provide instant boost lower down in the rev range as it isn’t driven off exhaust gasses. This then ‘fills in the gap’ until a much larger traditional turbo has spooled up to provide large boost levels for surging top end performance.

The electric turbocharger would be powered by batteries which are charged through a generator that recoups lost energy under braking. This makes it a very efficient system. However, the cost of the components are more expensive than using two traditional sequential twin turbochargers – another method of minimising turbo lag.

Dr Hakenberg told us: “This electrical system would only be used on the very top end models.” A similar system – albeit with an extra conventional turbo – has made its debut in the new Audi SQ7.

That’s why the lesser S4 will only use a single traditional turbocharger, which in that form means it produces 354bhp and is capable of 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds. That performance is also aided by a substantial 500Nm of torque.

2016 Audi RS4 rendering

He wouldn’t state the exact performance planned for the RS4, set to launch some time in 2016, but did admit it wouldn’t quite match the 503bhp Mercedes C63 AMG S because “that car has eight cylinders”. However, it is likely that Audi will try to keep the same power gap between the current RS4 and the S4, which means the next generation range topper could deliver as much as 480bhp.

The ultimate power output of this engine will also be key to another application: the R8. Dr Hakenberg said: “The R8 is a V10 supercar, there will not be a V8 version again. But there are some markets which demand a smaller capacity engine for that car.”

So it’s likely that once again the R8 will share an engine with the RS4, though this model is only likely to be sold in places such as China, where cars are taxed based on cubic capacity rather than emissions.

What do you think of Audi’s move away from the naturally-aspirated V8? Let us know below.