RS6 saloon bowed out in V10-powered form 13 years ago
New electric model to take on the BMW i5 M60 and Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 saloons
Scheduled for UK introduction in 2025, the new four-door performance model is planned to be sold under the RS6 E-tron name as a sibling to the RS6 Avant E-tron, according to sources at the firm’s engineering headquarters in Neckarsulm, Germany.
The impending return of the RS6 saloon to the Audi line-up has been revealed 13 years after the combustion-engined model ceased production in 2010, making way for the more sportingly styled RS7 saloon at the time.
The RS6 E-tron saloon and RS6 E-tron Avant build on the upcoming A6 E-tron saloon and Avant models already confirmed for launch in 2024. Central to their performance is a newly developed electric drivetrain, elements of which have been engineered in partnership with Porsche, which will use the dual-motor system in an upgraded version of the Taycan, also due to be unveiled in 2025.
The two new electric Audi Sport models are claimed to have more performance than the existing combustion-engined RS6 Avant and RS7 saloon, with up to 600bhp and over 738lb ft of torque.
In combination with a two-speed gearbox on each motor and a fully variable electric Quattro four-wheel drive system, the two new performance EVs are shaping up to be the fastest-accelerating saloon and estate combinations yet.
Like their lesser A6 E-tron saloon and Avant siblings, the new RS6 E-tron saloon and Avant are based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) structure developed in an engineering partnership between Audi and Porsche. It supports an 800V electric architecture as well as a silicon-carbide inverter.
Other upcoming new models based on the PPE platform include the Audi Q6 E-tron SUV and Q6 E-tron Sportback as well as the Porsche Macan Electric.
The A6 E-tron concept revealed in 2021 provides clues to the dimensions of the upcoming RS6 E-tron saloon. With a length of 4960mm, width of 1960mm and height of 1440mm, it is 9mm longer, 74mm wider and 18mm taller than today’s fifth-generation A6 saloon.
Initial plans called for combustion-engined successor models to today’s A6 saloon and A6 Avant to be renamed as the A7 saloon and A7 Avant in keeping with a new naming system developed under former Audi CEO Markus Duesmann. It called for electric models to receive even-numbered model designations and combustion models to switch to odd-numbered model designations.
However, the appointment of Gernot Doellner to the head of the German car maker has led to an internal review of future operations and the naming system, say insiders at the company’s Ingolstadt base.
Before the new electric-powered RS6 E-tron saloon and Avant arrive, Audi plans to provide the existing combustion model with a further upgrade in the form of a car known to insiders at the Audi Sport division as the RS6 GT Avant.
Inspired by the RS6 GTO concept revealed in 2020, its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 is claimed to develop an added 20bhp and 37lb ft over the existing RS6 Avant Performance at up to 650bhp and 664lb ft.
Prototypes of what is possibly the last non-electrified RS6 Avant model recently spied testing at the Nürburgring feature a revised aerodynamic package, including a larger wing element above the tailgate as well as a new diffuser.
Whether the new GT model will be offered in RS7 saloon guise is not yet clear, although it is claimed to be the fastest-accelerating RS6 Avant yet. Autocar has been told to expect a 0-62mph of “around 3.5sec” in combination with a top speed “limited to 190mph”.