Next-Generation Audi RS4 Avant Set To Be a Game Changer For Station Wagons

Although it might not be called the RS4 any more...

Next-Generation Audi RS4 Avant Set To Be a Game Changer For Station Wagons

Image: SB-Medien

More details have emerged about Audi’s hotly-anticipated next-generation fast station wagon, which will feature hybrid power for the first time and will take the fight to the popular BMW M3 Touring.

We here at DMARGE love station wagons, especially performance-oriented ones. They’re the ultimate jack of all trades: you’ve got a boot big enough to carry around plenty of stuff combined with sedan-like driving dynamics. Everyone seems obsessed with fast SUVs but the reality is that a wagon will always drive better than an SUV. Plus, they’re just cooler than SUVs.

The Audi RS4 Avant has always stood out as a particularly good fast wagon, too. The current-generation RS4 Avant, with its angular, muscular design and tasty twin-turbo V6 (which makes a robust 331 kW and 600 Nm of torque, and can rocket from 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds) is a proper beast. Our founder and publisher Luc has one in Nardo Grey and it looks bloody amazing.

There’s only one issue: the current RS4 Avant is looking pretty long in the tooth. It’s been in production since 2017, and while it holds up today aesthetically, it faces stiff competition from its fellow Germans – specifically, the new BMW M3 Touring.

Thankfully, Audi has decided to get back in the fight with a new RS4 Avant… Although it won’t be called the RS4 any more, which is a bit confusing.

The current-gen B9 (Typ 8W) Audi RS4 Avant in Nardo Grey. Image: Audi

In March, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann told German publication Auto Bild that the next-generation A4 will instead adopt the A5 name – which is a bit confusing – as Audi is changing its naming strategy to have even numbers for electric cars and odd numbers for internal combustion engined cars.

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The RS4 Avant will become the RS5 Avant, and the A4 range will actually disappear entirely – indeed, Audi’s entire performance ICE range isn’t long for this world. The A4 will return one day as a purely electric sedan to rival the Mercedes EQC and BMW i3 saloons, though their names haven’t been confirmed, Motor1 reports.

What’s more important than the car’s name is what’s set to be under the hood. Audi Sport managing director Oliver Hoffmann told Autocar in 2019 that the new RS5 Avant (i.e. the new RS4) will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

WATCH Audi’s new flagship electric sports car, the RS e-tron GT, out for a spin below.

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Audi has already ruled out doing four-cylinder RS cars, which means the new Avant will necessarily have to be powered by either one of Audi’s fire-breathing five-cylinders… Or more likely, the same V6 unit in the current RS4 Avant.

What that means is that it’s almost certainly going to make more power than the BMW M3 Touring, which has beaten Audi to the punch in the current-gen performance wagon game. Indeed, BMW should be more than a bit nervous once the new RS5 Avant comes out in 2025, as it’ll be both newer and (likely) faster.

But it’s not just the prospect of another fast wagon war that’s getting us excited. The real reason we think the new RS5 Avant will be a game-changer is that it might be the car that makes plug-in hybrids cool – or, at the very least, be a cool plug-in hybrid that mere mortals stand half a chance of being able to drive.

The unreleased, next-gen Audi S5 Avant spotted in the wild. Image: AutoEvolution

Over the years, auto makers have produced some pretty impressive plug-in hybrid supercars – like the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, McLaren P1 or Porsche 918 Spyder – but those are all million-dollar machines. The new RS5 Avant won’t be cheap, but it will be fast… And it could really help shift the needle regarding the public perception of PHEVs.

Spy shots have already started to emerge of the S5 Avant being tested, which is set to come out next year (the new A5 will come out later this year). Initial impressions? It looks pretty good, and it looks pretty sporty. We’re just keen to see how it drives, and keen to see what an RS5 version looks like.

Until then, BMW remains king of the fast wagons – but heavy is the head the wears the crown…