B8 Audi RS4 renderingEnlarge Photo
Downsizing engines and adding forced induction is the new wave in fuel economy engineering as companies strive to maintain performance levels and the latest reports indicate Audi is leaping into the ring with both feet, lopping two cylinders from its mighty RS4 sedan and replacing them with a supercharger. Enthusiasts may lament the loss of the extra pots, but purists will relish the return to six-cylinder forced induction.
The next-generation RS4 will reportedly feature a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6--the same basic unit found in the somewhat tamer S4, though it will no doubt be in higher tune in its RS application. The outgoing generation RS4 is powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 rated at 414 horsepower. Power figures for the new engine aren't yet known, but the new supercharged V-6 is expected to be thoroughly sporty.
Adding the requisite power bump in the next-generation RS4 model would place output on par with the V-8 model, and thanks to the supercharged induction, a very wide torque band would be available from an even lower RPM--all ingredients for very strong performance.
The original Audi RS4 featured a forced-induction V-6, though it was a twin-turbo unit generating 261 horsepower from its 2.6L displacement. Efficiency ratings of forced induction technologies have advanced somewhat since the first twin-turbo RS4 was built in late 1999 and the addition of twin-turbos or any dual-charging system to the current RS4 has been dismissed as prohibitively complex and expensive for the gains over a single supercharger design.
Whether Audi will actually follow through with the return to a forced-induction six-cylinder or not remains to be seen, but with impending fuel and emissions standards tightening around the world, even the high-performance luxury carmakers will have to change to keep fleet averages in line. No word yet on a release date but in the meantime, check out our latest computer-generated rendering which gives us an early look at the aggressive lines Audi’s designers have planned for the new RS4.
Incidentally, Audi is set to launch its RS5 based on the A5 Coupe early next year. This model will likely get a 450 horsepower version of the current RS4’s 4.2-liter V-8.