- The lack of a high-performance sports car plan glared at Audi, but Car and Driver have learned that an EV replacement for the R8 is in the works.
- Don’t worry too much though: the launch date for this new model, currently called Rnext, has been pushed back to 2029.
- Whether Audi will design its own platform or use Porsche’s matrix remains unclear, but if Ingolstadt can pull it off, Lamborghini and Bentley will likely get bespoke spinoffs.
Imagine Audi competing in Formula 1 in 2026 without a high-performance sports car in its portfolio to reap the rewards of motorsports. How ridiculous is that? However, at present, the future brand roadmap has no successor to the TT, no replacement for the R8, or even an ultrafast, high-visibility, large-margin image-building product and more.
While elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, Lamborghini owns the Aventador and Huracán. next pretty much instrumental, Rimac is preparing a follow-up to a Bugatti Chiron outfitted with an awesome 1800-hp V-8 hybrid, and Porsche is seriously considering an electric supercar. and hypercar, think tank Audi has lots of great ideas but not enough hard plans.
Until recently, the duel between Markus Duesmann (wearing a four-ring livery as Audi chairman) and Oliver Blume (with a Porsche embossed in his armor as the brand’s CEO) had ended in dead heat, but now Blume has stepped into the heat. the seat was recently vacated by Herbert Diess, the young CEO calling the shots. Will he let Audi CTO Oliver Hoffmann develop his own sports car architecture as planned? Or will he urge the Bavarian satellite group to use SSP6 components compiled exclusively for Porsche? “A decision won’t be made before next spring,” one insider claimed. “Blume will continue to maintain the brand to stimulate creativity and differentiation,” believes another. “In the end, the point is what matters,” joked the third.
Let’s assume for a moment that Audi has free rein and can move forward with the AU634/0, which is the code name for Rnext. While the automaker doesn’t currently share a single item with the Huracán successor, the high-voltage endeavor was destined to spawn a Lamborghini model in the late decade and a Bentley lineage in the early 2030s. There’s still a long way to go, but that’s the plan. We expect three body styles to make it into production: a two-seat coupe and a more spacious spyder and 2+2, the latter perhaps as a fire brake.
Porsche Battery, Slim Packaging
Modularity and scalability are key to keeping costs down, which is why all models are expected to use high-performance batteries sourced from Porsche. Will the construction be aluminum or carbon fiber? Maybe a bit of both, with synthetic webbing for the body and lightweight metal for the suspension. The cell-to-chassis concept, in which the battery is a stressed component, promises fewer calories, a slimmer package and extra rigidity.
What we have so far is another electric supercar positioned in the $250,000 to $300,000 range that can be eaten for breakfast by the cheaper Tesla Roadster, if that ever comes. Chances are, even the stunning design, incredible efficiency and outstanding quality will not make Rnext a huge success that is guaranteed to outpace the competition.
Right, admits Hoffmann of Audi. What separates greatness and sheer competence is how such a car is driven. No, we’re not talking about 1000 watts of power here, because 1000 horsepower will already be taken for granted when the next RS6 e-tron bends down. Instead, vehicle dynamics experts provide lyrics about their breakthrough Quattro nervous system that shares massive brain power with steering, brakes, and suspension for, to quote Hoffmann, “total control and absolute excitement.”
Brand Is Everything
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the AU634/0 stands out for not being in the latest cycle plans, which does show the next-generation e-tron GT with the Porsche SSP6 platform moniker and a 2029 release date. We wondered and were told that the Rnext would appear in Planning Round 72 which hasn’t been. completed in early 2023.
So, at this point, it looks like anything is possible. Porsche still allows Audi to use the Cayman/Boxster platform as a replacement for the 2027 TT. And it could design a very different future electric 911, codenamed PO998, around a component set flexible enough to also accommodate the Rnext.
Porsche can, but we won’t bet. Brand identity is key when premium signage is traded on the stock exchange. And let’s face it: After three years of fierce competition between good cop/bad cop, isn’t it time for the new King of Wolfsburg to show some leniency and tolerance towards the Duke of Ingolstadt?
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