Distinct, powerful, and ready for everyday use: That’s an Audi RS.
Only the Q5 and Q7 have not yet been RS’d.
2019 was a huge year for Audi Sport and we witnessed it.
Let’s face it: If Audi Sport uses the North Loop (Nordschleife) of the Nürburgring for development and testing of its products, then an Audi RS is a pure unadulterated ultra-high performance vehicle. Audi Sport’s philosophy may be “performance, prestige and exclusiveness with full everyday practicality” however they admit that performance is paramount. Why else would each of these sublime vehicles spend the equivalent of a lifetime lapping the famed track?
Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH, puts it this way: “The North Loop represents the ultimate endurance test in our development and coordination work. Every RS model undergoes at least 8,000 kilometers of testing here. The track provides us with detailed information about the durability of our parts under extreme conditions and specifics about the suspension. With the RS Q8, our main focus was on the setup of the springs, dampers, and the ESP as well as the performance characteristics of the roll stabilization and the sport differential.”
To put things in perspective, according to Audi Sport, 8,000 kilometers of lapping and endurance testing on the Nordschleife easily compares to a car’s actual lifespan. So when Frank Stippler, a highly decorated and experienced race car driver crushed the North Loop lap record in an RS Q8 last fall, covering the 20.832-kilometer course in only 7 minutes and 42.253 seconds, or 12 seconds faster than the previous record time, the standard was set in the record books.
With the exception of the Audi Q5 and Q7, of which both are offered in SQ5 and SQ7 sporty variants, every Audi product line is topped off by a dynamic spearhead RS version. As far as we can tell, the RS 3 sedan and Sportback are currently under development however all others, from the RS Q3, the delicious RS 4 and RS 6 Avants, to the fastest SUV around the ‘Ring RS Q8, are alive and well. Alive and well as all have been put to the same grueling tests.
Last year alone, eight of these RS vehicles were revealed to the world. We were lucky enough to attend the unveiling of both RS Q3s, the RS 6 Avant, RS 7 Sportback, and RS Q8. At the time, nearly a year ago, we could not share much as all information was under embargo. Within months, however, we were invited to drive both the RS 6 and RS Q8.
Going forward, Audi Sport will enhance future product lines with more RS vehicles soon after their reveal. This means that Audi Sport is able to develop and engineer its magic right alongside the baseline model.
The RS vehicles are produced at four locations. Specifically, the RS 3 Sportback, RS 3 Sedan, RS 4 Avant, RS 5 Coupé, and RS 5 Sportback are built in Ingolstadt. The RS 6 Avant and the RS 7 Sportback are produced at the Neckarsulm site. Interestingly, these cars are tested on a road course before delivery – I wonder if there are any job openings… The TT RS Coupé and Roadster, RS Q3, and the RS Q3 Sportback leave the Győr, Hungaria, plant. The RS Q8 is built at the Slovakian plant in Bratislava. Finally, the R8, the daddy of them all, is assembled at the “Böllinger Höfe” factory near the Neckarsulm plant and Audi Sport GmbH headquarters. This is also where the fully electric Audi e-tron GT will be built.
Much of Audi’s future belongs to electrification. We can only imagine the performance these vehicles will bring, all the while remaining entirely practical for daily use.