Undergoing initial testing, Audi’s new flagship RS model to be available with optional hybrid powertrain

The new Audi A7 may not have reached showrooms yet, but here’s compelling evidence that Audi Sport is well advanced in developing its new A7-based flagship performance model. According to sources inside Audi, the next RS7 will be far more than simply a sleeker RS6, and instead a real technological showcase for the brand.

As confirmed to evo by Audi’s Head of Design, Marc Lichte, the new car will be available in two states of tune. The more conventional derivative will utilise the ubiquitous 4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine tuned to produce approximately 650bhp, some 100bhp more than in a Porsche Panamera Turbo. Performance should be suitably brisk, to say the very least.

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The second model integrates hybrid technology into an Audi RS model for the first time. Taking advantage of the hybrid powertrain development undertaken by Porsche for the Panamera Turbo S E-hybrid, this hybrid RS7 also uses the 4-litre V8 engine but supplements it with an electric motor and lithium ion battery pack, adding a further 110kW to the total powertrain output. Audi is said to have detuned the V8 engine in the hybrid model to around 410kW, resulting in a combined output of 485kW.

As in the Panamera, the RS7 will use an 8-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox. However, despite sounding very similar to the set-up used in the big Porsche, this will be the first time a V8-hybrid powertrain has been used with the MLB platform, as opposed to the MSB one used by the Panamera.

From what the spy images show us, Audi has widened the RS7’s bodywork considerably compared to the standard A7, probably to cover a wider track. The previous RS7 was the only RS model (aside from the original RS2) to do without wider bodywork over the standard car, so this RS7 should look appropriately distinct from its more humble relation. Other RS-specific modifications on this prototype are the large oval exhausts in the rear bumper and massive alloy wheels; we would expect the front- and rear-end bodywork to be much more aggressive on the production version.

While we wait for the RS7 to arrive, it’ll be our first drive of the new A7, next year, that should give us an early indication of whether Audi Sport might succeed in increasing the new RS7’s dynamic appeal over its predecessor.

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