We’ve heard, recently, that Audi would be creating a new subdivision, called Audi Sport, to give its performance cars a title in the same respect as BMW’s M Division. The idea is that BMW’s and highest performing models all have a famous brand name that carries a motorsport pedigree, while Audi’s RS models do not. So Audi Sport will be to Audi what the M Division is to BMW. That’s the idea, at least.
Having said that, it’s clear that Audi wants its Sport subdivision to take the M Division head on. This makes sense, as M is one of the more recognizable letters in all of the automotive world and sets the standard for many performance cars. So Audi needs to stay competitive and match BMW M at its own game and beat it. That’s no small task, but I think Audi can pull it off. But to do so, Audi is going to need to stay ahead of the game, in terms of technology and innovation, and stay true to its “Progress Through Technology” mantra.
With that in mind, and BMW claiming the possibility of future hybrid M cars, should Audi be proactive and create a hybrid RS model first?
Audi’s RS Models are not M models. BMW M cars are generally purpose built for tire-shredding track use, utilizing extreme precision. Audi’s RS models are built a bit differently. Generally, Audi RS cars are designed to have enough power to send a space shuttle into orbit and use Quattro’s grip to pummel all of that horsepower into the ground and keep the car planted. They do this using the highest technology currently available. Wouldn’t hybrid technology, with its instantaneous torque and lower center of gravity, seem like the next logical step?
The only real knocks against hybrid technology, in terms of performance, are the added weight and lack of character. However, Audi’s new lightweight chassis technology should help to offset some of that extra weight and since technology is the key to Audi’s mantra, it might actually add some Audi character to the car. If you look at some of the hybrid performance cars on the market, like the BMW i8, Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari, the hybrid technology actually becomes a massive performance booster and no one would ever complain that those cars lack character.
Audi is already in the plug-in hybrid business, with the A3 Sportback e-tron, and is getting into the pure electric vehicle business, with the R8 e-tron and the e-tron Quattro concept, so the technology is there. It wouldn’t be all that difficult for Audi to create some sort of plug-in hybrid RS4, using the knowhow that’s already been established. The issue would be selling the idea of a plug-in hybrid Audi RS car to enthusiasts that would be the issue.
Enthusiasts seem to like noise and excitement and usually loath the idea of hybrid performance cars. However, once they would see the kind of power such a plug-in performance car could put down, they’d likely change their tune rather quickly. Audi has the means and it has the history of using the latest technology for performance. I think that Audi Sport should get ahead of the game and start thinking about creating some sort of Audi RS4 e-tron to crush its competitors while getting better fuel economy than all of them.