2018 Audi TT RS fitted with items from Audi Sport Performance Parts range
Former Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann has been busy since taking up the reins at Audi Sport a year ago.
Primarily, he’s been focused on expanding the line-up to provide Audi Sport with a better footing to take on more prominent rivals BMW M and Mercedes-AMG.
Given the direction the market’s headied, Winkelmann is keen on adding more SUVs. Right now there’s only the RS Q3 but an RS Q5 is expected later this year and in the coming years we should see an RS Q8.
That doesn’t mean Winkelmann doesn’t see the need for halo products, such as a hypercar. Previously the R8 was the halo, but it's since been outmatched by rivals both technologically and performance-wise.
Speaking with Automotive News (subscription required) recently, Winkelmann said a hypercar is something he’s interested in but first must come SUVs and then electric cars.
“I think not only the brand deserves it, but there is a demand outside, and the [customers] are looking into it,” Winkelmann said when asked about a hypercar.
This isn’t the first time talk of an Audi performance car above the R8 has made headlines. In 2012, Wolfgang Dürheimer, who briefly served as Audi’s R&D chief and is currently boss of the Bentley and Bugatti brands, wanted to introduce a hypercar back before the vehicle class was part of the automotive vernacular. He wanted it to be derived from Audi’s then-successful R18 Le Mans prototype.
What’s also of interest in Winkelmann's latest comments is confirmation that Audi Sport is looking at an electric car, something BMW M and AMG aren’t planning just yet although AMG did sell an electric version of its SLS supercar several years ago.
According to Winkelmann, Audi Sport’s electric car will arrive in 2020 or 2021. It will either have a “coupe-ish sedan” or “coupe-ish SUV” form, he said.
Launching an electric car makes sense for Audi Sport, as the centerpiece of the brand’s motorsport program is now Formula E. The challenge, Winkelmann said, is finding the right mix of driving range and excitement.