While Audi's parent company continues to overcome its diesel deceit, the brand is ensuring it has a bright future ahead. Said future may come at the expense of a hardcore Audi R8, though.
Crossovers and SUVs remain sales kings in today's market, and it's one reason a crossover RS model is more important to the brand than a more track-focused R8. Top Gear sat down with Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann who confirmed an RS-badged crossover is taking priority within the brand's halls.
"Once you create a brand, you have to create a lineup. We have the R8, and we will do derivatives in different directions. But we have to create a lineup which is more worldwide-sellable than today’s," Winkelmann answered after being asked about both an RS crossover or hardcore R8.
Audi Q8 Sport concept, 2017 Geneva auto show
Though, as stated, Audi Sport is looking at different "derivatives" of R8. For now, though, electrification and motorsport are Winkelmann's two main areas of focus.
"My priorities are preparing for the next decade, and motorsport. I’ve only been in the job a year. Matters like electrification and the other things I’ve mentioned are what are consuming one hundred percent of my time," he said.
As for different R8 variants, Winkelmann simply acknowledged the opportunity to do something different with the car. Winkelman used to be the man in charge over at Lamborghini, so he knows a thing or two about cooking up high-performance cars.
"If we speak about the R8, there is an opportunity there to do something different, and we’re working on derivatives right now… But in general, Quattro as a system is not an option for us. It’s a must," he replied when asked about Quattro's role in future performance cars. It's safe to rule out rear-wheel drive in any new R8.
Audi Sport's most recent dish is one we found to be palatable in a wide range of driving conditions, that is the 2018 Audi RS 5. If this is Winkelmann's appetizer, Audi Sport looks to be in good hands with the right cooks in the kitchen.