Hybrid technology hardly came from performance-oriented beginnings. After all, the first mass-market hybrids' sole goal was to improve fuel economy and curb emissions.
While this remains their primary goal today, brilliant engineering minds have worked wonders in another area. Now, hybrid technology often finds a role in performance vehicles as well, to enhance their power, and this will be true for future models from Audi Sport.
Audi RS 6 Avant
Speaking at this week's Frankfurt International Motor Show, Audi Sport chief Oliver Hoffmann said hybrid technology, specifically plug-in hybrid technology, will feature in future RS cars from the performance skunkworks. We've already heard that a plug-in hybrid powertrain will feature in the next RS 4, a model that's still a few years out. However, RS cars with plug-in hybrid power could come sooner.
Specifically, we're talking about eventual RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback Performance models, which will offer a step up in performance over the recently revealed RS 6 and RS 7 and should arrive in the next year or two. Road and Track reported on Tuesday that the two models, which like the standard RS 6 and RS 7 will be mechanically identical underneath the skin, will likely feature plug-in hybrid power.
New Audi RS 7 Sportback
This echoes comments made by Audi design chief Marc Lichte back in 2017, when he said a hybrid version of the RS 7 (and presumably the RS 6, too) is coming and will offer close to 700 horsepower.
Said power will likely come from cousin Porsche, specifically its Panamera and Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid models, which produce 680 hp from a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine supplemented by an electric motor integrated with the transmission. The powertrain also features a 14.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that can deliver a short range of zero-emission driving.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid
As for the standard RS 6 and RS 7, they feature the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 in a mild-hybrid configuration that delivers 592 hp, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Note, Audi has also just added a plug-in hybrid option to its standard A7 Sportback. The car combines a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with an electric motor for a combined 361 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. Not bad.