It would appear Audi is planning some significant changes to its naming methodology by promoting the A4 to the A5 moniker. Auto Express claims the revamped model debuting later this year will level up its designation for both the saloon and estate. However, we should point out that spy photographers have yet to see prototypes of the good ol' saloon. Some claim the Four Rings are nixing the once-traditional body style but nothing is official yet.
As to why this presumed name change is happening, models with even numbers will gradually transition to purely electric drivetrains. In other words, a future A4 will be sold strictly as an EV. Similarly, the next A6 is believed to become the A7 but the battery-powered model will go by the A6 name.
Audi A4 Avant new spy photos
The next-generation electric cars from Audi will supposedly keep the "E-Tron" suffix in the same vein as the Q4 E-Tron/Q4 Sportback E-Tron and the larger Q8 E-Tron/Q8 Sportback E-Tron. Consequently, expect to see an A6 E-Tron followed by an A4 E-Tron at some point. Meanwhile, an electric replacement for the A8 has already been confirmed for a 2024 debut, so the flagship could be called A8 E-Tron.
The journalists claim Audi will also transition the warm S-badged models to the higher number since those cars will still have a combustion engine. If that's accurate, look for an S5 Saloon and an S5 Avant to arrive in the coming years, as weird as their names might seem. Auto Express doesn't address one burning question: What will happen to the Sportback models? Presumably, they'll soldier on with the A5/S5 and A7/S7 name, with a Sportback at the end to set them apart from the saloon and estate.
As for the fully fledged RS models, Audi is already thinking about doing a high-performance EV, so an RS6 E-Tron seems plausible. Whatever the case may be, electric cars will ride on dedicated platforms instead of sharing the underpinnings with ICE-powered vehicles.
Audi has already made it crystal clear it will launch its final new combustion-engined car in 2025, with every new product coming from 2026 to be an EV. It'll end the production of petrol and diesel cars by 2033.