Here's what's being done to change that.
There was a time when high-performance coupes and sedans were the top priority for the likes of BMW M and Mercedes-AMG. Although these segments, more so sedans than coupes, remain important, the rise of performance SUVs has taken priority. Porsche, BMW M, and Mercedes-AMG have led the way with the likes of the Macan Turbo, X5 M, first-ever X3 M, and AMG GLE 63 and GLC 63, respectively, but what about Audi Sport? Are more RS-badged SUVs going to happen? The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’
Speaking to Autocar, Audi Sport’s new managing director, Oliver Hoffmann, confirmed those two main German rivals are forcing Audi Sport to rapidly respond. "We have to stretch our portfolio and the SUV segment is the segment with the most growth,” he said. "There is high demand from our customers for high-performance SUVs. The RS Q8 we will launch this year. There is really, really high demand for this type of car.”
Audi Sport has yet to make an official announcement, but plans for RS versions for the Q3, Q5, and Q7 are very likely. Audi Sport simply has no choice but to deliver. For example, the newly revealed Q3 Sportback, which sadly won’t be coming to the US, is expected to be revealed in RS form this September at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. Automakers have found that high-performance variants of already popular SUVs are relatively easy and cheap to offer.
All of the factory tooling has been done, the necessary engines exist, and nearly all other components are good to go. This doesn’t mean success is guaranteed. Because of the fierce competition, Audi Sport will need to offer something special to make its performance SUVs stand out.
Fortunately, Hoffmann and his team have a solution: driveline electrification. We’re not talking about all-out EVs here (though that’s not too far off), but rather hybrids.
"If you have the SUV segment with the higher weight, it’s easier to implement a hybrid drivetrain,” Hoffmann explained. "It’s easier because of the packaging and the higher weight. For sure, we will increase electric for our RS models in the future.” Let the German high-performance SUV wars begin.