When Stephan Winkelmann came over from Lamborghini to head the Audi Sport division, the division that develops all Audi ‘R’ and ‘RS’ models, he already had big plans. What was once a relatively unknown performance division (previously dubbed Audi Quattro GmbH), Winkelmann is going to make a household name, like Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M Division. To do so, Audi Sport will add eight more RS models by 2018, more than doubling the current seven-model range.
It’s actually a tricky line to walk for Audi Sport, because you don’t want the RS model line to become mainstream or common. It needs to remain exclusive and elite or it loses its brand panache. BMW’s M Division and Mercedes’ AMG have both started to lose a bit of their specialness, with M Performance and AMG Sport models being lesser cars not actually made by their respective divisions.
“There is more to come,” said Winkelmann. “We have one company, one name and we have a brand. But we will remain exclusive.”
Audi will be making Audi RS variants of nearly all models, such as the upcoming Audi RS3 Sedan. But there will be RS variants of cars like the Audi Q3 and the new Audi Q5. However, don’t expect too much of a model like saturation, as Winkelmann doesn’t want Audi Sport to become like AMG, despite the latter brand’s incredible sales success as of late. “We are not going to do what they do,” he said. “We have a lot of plans but are not revealing them yet. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.”
So far, we like Winkelmann and where he’s taking the Audi Sport brand. He seems to understand the values of the brand and the direction it should go in. He also wants to keep the “RS” model name to be an exclusive one and one that means something. As BMW’s M and Mercedes’ AMG become diluted, Audi Sport will become the new premium performance sub-division.