With Mercedes launching a new C-Class Estate and BMW facelifting the 3 Series Touring, Audi will follow suit with its next-generation A4 Avant. A heavily camouflaged prototype rocking a dual exhaust was caught by our spies testing together with the RS6. A closer look at the top-left corner of the rear windscreen shows a green PHEV sticker revealing the vehicle's electrified nature. Interestingly, our spies have told us the car was "very loud."
The vehicle in question might've very well been an early test mule of the RS4, but without the bulging wheel arches. In addition, it also lacked the final taillights while the brakes didn't look big enough for an Audi Sport model. There must be a logical explanation why the disguised prototype was being followed by the RS 6 Avant, and there's a good chance the smaller estate was also of the RS variety. However, it's difficult to know for sure.
2023 Audi A4 / RS4 Avant spy photos
It might come as a surprise to some people, but the Four Rings officially confirmed the next-gen RS4 would go hybrid nearly three years ago. The folks from Ingolstadt refrained from going into any details, only saying the performance estate would be a PHEV. Your guess is as good as ours regarding whether the V6 will be retained, but our money is on a downsized four-pot in the same vein as the upcoming AMG C63.
Meanwhile, the four spy shots at the end of our gallery show a different prototype from the inside. That work-in-progress A4 seemingly had the final dashboard layout with a wide digital instrument cluster and a large tablet-like infotainment. With touchscreens becoming so big, it's hard for an automaker to neatly integrate the display into the dash, so we end up with these less cohesive setups.
There might be a row of buttons hiding below the screen and above the central air vents, but most of the vehicle's functions have been built into the touchscreen. That becomes obvious if you look at the bottom part of the display where there are shortcuts for the climate control settings. Audi has reconfigured the lower centre console by removing the bulky gear lever for a much more compact rocker switch. There are two cup holders to its right, but they're occupied here by testing equipment.
Elsewhere, the steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls appears to be taken from a Q4 E-Tron and boasts shift paddles behind it. Some of the plastics look rather cheap, but that's only because we're dealing with a prototype. The production-ready Audi A4 Avant will have a substantially fancier interior, albeit that big screen tacked onto the dashboard will be a turnoff for some people.
The last A4 with combustion engines is expected to go on sale in 2023, with spicy S and RS4 derivatives probably earmarked for a 2024 release. Further down the line, Audi might also do a fully electric RS4 riding on the dedicated PPE platform that'll debut soon with the Q6 E-Tron and Porsche Macan electric crossovers.