Audi to add hybrid power to performance range to beat rivals

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Audi is preparing to launch new models to customers away from the likes of Mercedes-AMG and BMW's M Division.

Oliver Hoffman, managing director of Audi Sport, says the next year will see "the biggest model launch ever in our history", with revised version of the RS4 and RS5 joining next-gen takes on the heavy-hitting RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback.

"And we will enter a completely new segment, the power SUV segment," Hoffman says.

"We will increase our sales numbers in the next years.

"For sure, at the time we are number three in terms of volume, behind M and AMG, but we will close the gap in the next years, not only with the new models for our icons like the RS4 and the RS6, but also very new segments. "

Audi Sport has built just one SUV, the discontinued five-cylinder RSQ3. Expect the brand to refresh that model and serve up at least another high-performance model based on the mid-sized Q5, or larger Q7 and Q8 crossovers.

Electrification will play an important part in the Audi Sport story, with the brand leading to "mild hybrids" incapable of propelling cars without burning petrol, through to Tesla-rivalling electric machines.

The previous-generation RS6 and RS7 featured Porsche-built 4.0-liter V8 turbo engines. Those engines are available with more than 500kW of hybrid power in the range-topping Porsche Panamera Turbo S-hybrid, which could open the door to extreme performance for its four-ringed cousin.

Hoffman says this technology requires engineers to balance the power of increasing power and complexity.

"We will electrify all of our models in the next years," Hoffman says.

"We will look at the model by segment and by segment which kind of electrification is right for each market."

"In the Chinese market you will soon be fully electric cars and cars with a high electrification.

“In Europe and especially the US market it will take a longer time to electrify the portfolio. Starting with mild hybrid up to fully electric cars. "

Audi is committed to electric cars in Australia, and the Q7-based e-tron will reach our shores this year.

But like the US, we might be further down the queue for hybrid models as Audi focuses on markets which place tighter on traditional V6 and V8-powered machines as the RS4 and RS6 wagons.

A new RS6 based on the all-new A6 range is expected to break cover soon.

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