Spy photos show that Audi has the next-generation RS4 Avant deep in development, but don’t expect to find a button for a Drift Mode in the cabin. In the opinion of Audi Sport Head of Technical Development Stephan Reil, the tech has no place in the division’s high-performance products.
"No drift mode. Not in the R8, not in the RS3, not in the RS6, not in the RS4," Reil told Autoblog. "I don't like them. I do not see the reason for them. We do not see the sense in sitting there burning the back tyres. It's not fast."
Performance-oriented all-wheel-drive models like the Ford Focus RS and Mercedes-Benz E63 have recently started incorporating Drift Mode settings into their vast arrays of tech. The systems let the drivers enjoy the fun of sliding the back tyres that a rear-wheel-drive machine would offer, but owners can have the extra security of powering both axles when the road gets slick.
"The car is much faster the way we do it."
Reil contends that RS-model drivers have the option of switch off the stability assistance if they want less computer intervention into their enthusiastic motoring. “You wanted the full control by pushing that button. You got it,” he told Autoblog. Unless you’re a rally ace, sliding often isn’t the best way around a curve. "The car is much faster the way we do it, and drifting also does not really suit the architecture of our cars,” Reil said.
As the division’s development chief, we would expect Reil’s anti-drift-mode sentiment to affect the massive slate of upcoming RS vehicles. After the RS5 Coupe’s debut in Geneva, the RS4 Avant should be the next one on the scene. A leak indicates the RS5 Sportback is on the horizon, too.
Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann is also quite clear that more RS-badged crossovers are joining the lineup. He wants them to use petrol-powered engines because the powertrains are more acceptable to consumers worldwide, rather than Europe’s preference for diesels.
An RS model on a dedicated chassis isn’t among the onslaught of new products, though. “I think there is the opportunity for a very limited car, but this is not my top priority at the moment,” Winkelmann recently told Car and Driver. For the time being, the division has a focus solely on tuning the range-topping performance versions of Audi's products.