The next-generation Audi RS4 Avant is in line to be the first RS performance model to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain, as the German firm ramps up its electrification push.

Audi is thought to be in the very early stages of testing the RS4’s powertrain, which – as previously reported by Autocar – is expected to be based around the current twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine but with electric assistance that will lift its output beyond 444bhp and 443lb ft.

An Audi A4-based test mule spotted in the Alps is thought to have been testing this new set-up, due to the “very loud” noise it was making, and the fact that it was testing alongside an Audi RS6 Avant. Mandatory testing stickers and a camouflaged charging flap give it away as a PHEV.

When it gets its own bodywork, it’s expected to be even more aggressive than the recently spotted Audi S4 Avant.

The hot estate was pictured with a lower and wider front grille, slimmer headlights and a more angular roofline to the standard A4, so expect the range-topper to don classic RS-style widened arches, large-diameter sports wheels, a bespoke body kit and a beefy sports exhaust.

It is also expected to get an interior very similar to its S4 sibling, with a floating instrument panel behind a new flat-bottomed steering wheel, a clean centre console and a more advanced twin-touchscreen interface. 

Audi looks to be ditching traditional gear shifters for a new toggle-based gear switch in the A4 line-up. This is expected to operate either a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or eight-speed torque-converter unit.

An Audi spokesman confirmed that the next RS4 is still in the very early stages of development and is “a number of years away”. The standard new A4 Avant is set to hit dealerships next year.

Expect the new RS4 Avant to command a premium on the model it replaces, which is currently priced from £69,275. 


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