Audi’s most famous engine isn’t the R8’s V10, nor is it some burly V8 or even a V6. Instead, its most famous engine configuration is actually an inline-five-cylinder engine. Audi made the five-cylinder famous with the original “Ur” Quattro back in the ’80s and it’s been using five-pots for performance cars ever since. It’s going to be using one again, too, in the upcoming Audi RS3. However, that application of the iconic turbo-five is likely going to be Audi’s last.
When this Audi RS3 makes its debut later this year, it will start the beginning of the end for the five-pot. By the time the new RS3 reaches the end of its life cycle, we’re going to be nearing 2030 and developing yet another five-cylinder engine won’t make much sense for Audi by then. So if Audi even decides to make another RS3, it’s more likely that it uses either a smaller-displacement hybrid powertrain or a fully-electric one instead of an old-school five-cylinder engine.
Also, there’s likely not going to be another Audi TT RS after this generation. Audi is already looking to drop the TT lineup entirely, as its sales dwindle and market demand for small coupes is dying. So it’s very unlikely that another TT RS makes it to market at all, never mind with a new five-cylinder engine. If the Audi TT, and subsequent ‘RS’ model, does get built, it’s likely it will also be entirely electric.
Audi knows the future is electric and it’s currently planning on a ton of new hybrid and electric models for the future. By the end of this decade, the majority of Audi’s models will at least have hybrid powertrains, so it’s unlikely we’ll see another investment into a low-volume, high-performance gasoline engine. Instead, it’s more likely we’ll see an electric Audi RS3 by around 2030.
We’ll miss the 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder when it’s gone but we understand why it has to go. Thankfully, there will be so many great cars on the second hand market that enthusiasts can buy and have fun with.