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Less is more: Audi’s next RS 4 Avant could get fewer cylinders and more power

Audi has major changes in store for the next generation of the hot-rodded RS 4 Avant, a new report finds. The wagon will be more powerful, faster, and more efficient than the model that’s currently found in the company’s European showrooms.

The next-gen RS 4 will ditch the current model’s naturally-aspirated 4.2-liter V8 engine and downsize to an evolution of the S4‘s 3.0-liter V6. The six-cylinder will be fitted with at least one conventional, exhaust-driven turbocharger and an innovative electric turbo similar to the one that equips the recently-introduced SQ7 TDI. Called electric-powered compressor (EPC) in Audi terminology, the battery-powered turbo will spool up at low engine speeds to virtually eliminate turbo lag by providing boost right off the line.

The EPC is expected to help bump the V6’s output up from 354 horsepower in the S4 to over 480 horsepower in the RS 4, an increase of 36 ponies over the current model (pictured). Interestingly, British magazine Auto Express reports that the next RS 4’s engine could ultimately power an entry-level version of the R8 developed specifically for markets such as China where large-displacement engines are subject to heavy taxes.

Unsurprisingly, the visual updates will be more evolutionary than revolutionary. Expect the RS 4 to get a more muscular-looking front fascia characterized by a specific grille, large alloy wheels tucked under flared fenders, an air diffuser built into the rear bumper, and oval exhaust tips. A firmer, sport-tuned suspension will make the wagon ride lower than the A4 Avant on which it’s based.

Audi is keeping quiet about the next RS 4 Avant for the time being. While we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the metal for the first time at this fall’s Paris Auto Show, Audi might choose to unveil it at next year’s edition of the Geneva Auto Show. Either way, the RS 4 Avant is unlikely to touch down on our shores because fast, expensive wagons are unpopular here at best. Only time will tell whether Audi will launch a RS 4 sedan to take on the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63.

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