Audi took the risky step of replacing the V8 engine in its sporty S5 range with a new supercharged V6. Sure the six-cylinder mill is lighter and more fuel-efficient but what about the prestige of a V8, not to mention the smoothness and aural delight? Audi believes its customers, current and future, will favor a smaller engine and will see this trend of downsizing carry over for its next-generation models.

Speaking with Car and Driver, Audi's global head of product engineering Michael Dick revealed plans for even more extreme downsizing. Dick explained that the company’s newly introduced 3.0L supercharged V6 TFSI engine is actually an "intermediate step" between the former 4.2L V8 and a new range of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Future versions of the S4 and S5 will be 20% more fuel-efficient but will offer similar performance to the outgoing V8 models.

Smaller engine displacement isn’t the only avenue Audi is investigating as weight reduction is equally important for Audi. Take the new S5, the coupe weighs in at a hefty 3,800 pounds (1,723kg) while the Cabrio tips the scales at 4,300 pounds (1,950kg). According to Dick, Audi’s weight reduction goal for the next-generation of cars is 30%.

To reach this goal, Audi will employ more aluminum, magnesium, and high-strength steel in the construction of the cars. A prototype for the next S5 is already in testing and weighs up to 880 pounds (400kg) less than the current model. Styling of the car is expected to be similar to the A7 Sportback but overall size and proportions will be smaller. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until 2014 to see the debut of the new car.