Making of RS: How Audi Sport GmbH shapes the character of its RS models

** The collective fuel consumption values of all models named and available on the German market can be found in the list provided at the end of this MediaInfo.

The North Loop (Nordschleife) of the Nürburgring is a legend among race tracks: The 20.832-kilometer course is among the most challenging worldwide. And every single meter is truly a tough challenge: the compression at the Fuchsröhre, the kickbacks iat the Karussell, or the jump at the Pflanzgarten. More than 80 percent of the course is driven with full power. With maximum load applied in fast motion, every kilometer on this course equates to multiple kilometers of regular road operation. 8,000 kilometers of endurance testing on the North Loop easily equates to a car’s entire lifetime. With its high demands, the North Loop is the benchmark for every sporty car. If you can survive here, you can survive on the world’s roads.

The North Loop can also tell a knowledgeable driver a lot about an automobile: Its strengths and weaknesses, precise handling to achieve fast lap times, easy controllability at the limit and, most of all, solid quality even in the most challenging conditions. This is why the North Loop is one of the fixed stars in the cosmos of vehicle development and testing at Audi Sport GmbH.

A North Loop expert working for Audi Sport: Frank Stippler

Frank Stippler is one of the people who know the “Green Hell” best. The 45-year-old was born in Cologne and lives in the Eifel region. He is connected with the history of Audi Sport like no other racing driver. His greatest accomplishments include winning the 24 Hours races of Spa in 2012 and the Nürburgring (2012 and 2019). Stippler was part of the team right from the start, when the GT3 racing car Audi R8 LMS debuted in 2009. Aside from his skills as a driver, he also contributed his engineering expertise. Ever since then, it has been hard to imagine the development of customer sport racing cars and even sporty road models without him. This applies to the RS models as well as the R8** high-performance sports car, which was extensively updated at the beginning of 2019 – as Coupé**, as Spyder**, and as an R8 V10 RWD** with rear-wheel drive.

Stippler’s latest coup is a lap record on the North Loop, which he set with an RS Q8** in the fall of 2019. The clock stopped after 7 minutes and 42.253 seconds – attested by a notary – and the racing professional from Cologne had beaten the former best time for standard SUVs by twelve seconds. While the new record was not the aim of the development work, it is nevertheless clear proof of the immense dynamism that Audi’s most sporty Q model has to offer.

Oliver Hoffmann: “The North Loop is the ultimate endurance test”

“The North Loop represents the ultimate endurance test in our development and coordination work,” explains Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “Every RS model undergoes at least 8,000 kilometers of testing here. The track provides us with detailed information about the durability of our parts under extreme conditions and specifics about the suspension. With the RS Q8**, our main focus was on the setup of the springs, dampers, and the ESP as well as the performance characteristics of the roll stabilization and the sport differential”

What distinguishes the character of Audi’s fastest SUV? “The RS Q8** combines outstanding performance and extraordinary design along with the power and versatility of an SUV and our extensive quality standards,” Hoffmann explains. “RS vehicles have a strong and unique character: spontaneous maximum performance wherever and whenever desired, and effortless performance on long journeys.” This is important, as many RS drivers use their car every day for business trips and running errands and rack up a lot of kilometers. “An RS is a true Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde. It is important for every kilometer, no matter how it is driven, to be an experience. This is achieved thanks to breathtaking design, high-end look and feel, and outstanding quality,” says Oliver Hoffmann, who is also responsible for Technical Development at the Neckarsulm site.

Twelve models in the portfolio: The RS initiative is underway

The RS model offensive is in full swing: The sporty subsidiary of AUDI AG already has twelve RS models in its portfolio: the RS 3 as a Sportback** and Sedan**, the RS 4 Avant**, the RS 5 as Coupé** and Sportback**, the RS 6 Avant**, the RS 7 Sportback**, the TT RS as Coupé** and Roadster**, the RS Q3** and the RS Q3 Sportback**, as well as the RS Q8**. Eight of these models were only introduced in 2019, and Audi Sport GmbH already has many more ideas up its sleeves for the near future.

Future RS models will enhance the range relatively soon after the launch of the respective base product lines. That means that their characteristics will be defined at a very early stage and that their development will run alongside work on the corresponding product line upon which they are based. In addition to design, this work will focus on powertrain and suspension. After all, the aim is to bring the sporty DNA that every Audi carries to the fore as much as possible.

Modern efficiency is one of the fundamental goals here. With the RS 6 Avant**, RS 7 Sportback**, and RS Q8**, the list of ingredients already includes a sophisticated mild hybrid system based on the 48-volt on-board electrical system as well as cylinder deactivation (COD) in the V8 TFSI engine under partial load. Needless to say, these functions must also be implemented in an RS-typical way. “Fine-tuning” is the magic word when it comes to the long road that is the development of a spectacular RS model. “A unique character will only evolve if we work consistently and with great precision. A lot of experience and a clear visionare the keys to creating a coherent overall concept,” says Oliver Hoffmann with certainty.

Around the world 30 times: the testing program for the RS Q8** – and not just this RS

Test engineers from Audi Sport GmbH spent around two years on the road in the RS Q8**, covering more than 1.2 million kilometers, the equivalent of driving around the world 30 times, with development vehicles and prototypes. The test drives took them to Finland, Sweden, France, Italy, South Africa, China, and the USA. They were conducted on all types of racing tracks and roads.

Testing areas like the high-speed circular track in the southern Italian town of Nardò were used to test the resilience of all components at a consistently high speed. The ice and snow in Scandinavia offered ideal conditions for putting the finishing touches to the response characteristics of the suspension and control systems. When driving on a slippery surface, even minor changes to the setup have very noticeable effects. The heat and elevation in South Africa presented the air conditioning, engine cooling, and performance characteristics with special challenges.

Inspired by the racing car: the design of RS models

The RS models are the dynamic spearheads in Audi’s model portfolio, as is already indicated by their particularly striking exterior design. It is very much inspired by motorsports, combining cool understatement with a dynamic edge. Top performance in motorsports requires more extreme component shapes. According to the principle of “form follows function,” it is therefore natural that the use of high-performance technologies from motorsports is also reflected in the visual appearance of RS models.

In many RS models, the proportion and position of the Singleframe are based on the R8** sports car: It is both wider and lower than on its sister models and dominated by a puristic, sporty black instead of chrome elements. Some RS models have horizontal slits between the grille and the hood that are reminiscent of the iconic Audi Sport quattro from 1984. Mighty air inlets and large elliptical tailpipes symbolize the power of the turbocharged engines.

The body also features an exclusive look, which is particularly striking in the Audi RS 6 Avant**. It is 80 millimeters wider than the base model, and the design of the fenders is just as RS-typical as that of the rear doors, the side panel frames, the front section, and the engine hood. Only the front doors, the roof, and the tailgate are unchanged. The wheel arches of the high-performance Avant accommodate wheels with a diameter of up to 22 inches – or even 23 inches in the case of the RS Q8.

Workshops and master jig: Top-of-the-line quality even during development

The Audi maxim of uncompromising quality applies to each of the many exclusive solutions. “Our customers demand the best products on the market,” says the Managing Director of Audi Sport, Oliver Hoffmann. “We have the best specialists and teams to meet their high expectations.” The RS workshops, where the first cars are assembled by hand, play an important part during the development phase.

The Audi Quality Assurance department has a great influence on the later series production vehicle even during this phase. The employees assemble the complete RS body on highly precise aluminum measuring fixtures known as the master jig. They use state-of-the-art measuring methods such as laser scanners, which record several million measuring points on the surface of the part, to adjust all surfaces, joints, and radii down to the tenth of a millimeter. This benefits both the aerodynamics and the appeal of each individual RS.

Four locations: production of the RS models

RS models are produced at four locations. The RS 3 Sportback**, the RS 3 Sedan**, the RS 4 Avant**, the RS 5 Coupé**, and the RS 5 Sportback** roll off the line in the German plant in Ingolstadt. The RS 6 Avant** and the RS 7 Sportback** are produced at the Neckarsulm site. At the Hungarian plant in Győr, the TT RS as a Coupé** and Roadster**, the RS Q3** and the RS Q3 Sportback** are built. The RS Q8** is produced at the Slovakian plant in Bratislava. All RS models are processed on shared systems with their sister models. The Audi press shops supply the specific sheet metal parts made of steel or, in many cases, aluminum that are then assembled in the body shop.

The marriage, that is the assembly station where the suspension and drivetrain are joined with the body, is very challenging in the case of the models with a V8 engine in particular.
RS-specific parts such as the exhaust system, bumpers, rear aprons, and wheels complete the RS models. A two-digit number of RS 6 Avants** and RS 7 Sportbacks** are built in Neckarsulm every working day. Each one of them is checked on a road course before being handed over to the customer.

The “Böllinger Höfe” factory is located close by the Neckarsulm plant, the headquarters of Audi Sport GmbH. This is where the sports and racing cars of the R8 family** are built, in large part by hand, and the fully electric Audi e-tron GT will soon be built here, too.

Additional information is available at

Fuel consumption of the models named
(Information on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as well as efficiency classes in ranges depending on the tires and alloy wheel rims used.)

Audi R8 Coupé:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 13.1 – 12.9;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 298 – 293

Audi R8 Spyder:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 13.3 – 13.0;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 302 – 297

Audi R8 V10 RWD Coupé:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 12.9;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 294 – 293

Audi R8 V10 RWD Spyder:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 13.1;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 299 – 298

Audi RS Q8:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 12.1;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 277 – 276

Audi RS 3 Sportback:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8.5;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 195 – 194

Audi RS 3 Sedan:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8.5;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 194

Audi RS 4 Avant:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 9.2;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 211 – 210

Audi RS 5 Coupé:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 9.1;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 208

Audi RS 5 Sportback:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 9.2;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 209

Audi RS 6 Avant:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 9.2;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 209

Audi RS 7 Sportback:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 11.6 – 11.4;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 265 – 261

Audi TT RS Coupé:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.0 – 6.0
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 161 – 137

Audi TT RS Roadster:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.3 – 6.3;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 166 – 143

Audi RS Q3:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8.9 – 8.8;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 203 – 202

Audi RS Q3 Sportback:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8.9 – 8.8;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 204 – 2020

Audi launches Mission:Zero environmental program: natural habitats at Audi locations

With its Mission:Zero environmental program, Audi is addressing four action areas: decarbonization with a clear focus on sustainable production, economical water use, resource efficiency, and the preservation of biodiversity. The company combines numerous measures in each action area with the aim of making its production as environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral as possible. The natural design of the open spaces at the Audi production facility in Münchsmünster are a lighthouse project for the biodiversity action area. Thanks to its deliberately ecological design, the complex near Ingolstadt offers an especially valuable habitat for many animal and plant species. Audi has converted 17 hectares of its production site in Münchsmünster into natural habitats for plants and animals. More than 110 plant species have developed there so far and around 90 wild bee species have established colonies.

The project in Münchsmünster received Bavaria’s “Blühender Betrieb” award in 2019. This award is part of the “Blühpakt Bayern” initiative, with which the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection wants to encourage companies to make their spaces flower- and insect-friendly. This award requires strict criteria to be met for fostering flora and fauna on company sites: at least 20 percent of open spaces must be naturalistic flowering areas, for example. Chemical pesticides and substrates containing peat may not be used. Projects like this are a benchmark for similar efforts at all other Audi locations worldwide. These include green roof areas at the Ingolstadt site, flowering meadows at the Neckarsulm plant, facade greening and bee colonies at the Brussels site, a green belt around the plant in San Jose Chiapa (Mexico) with a nearby reforestation of 100,000 trees, modules such as heaps of sand, insect hotels, a wet biotope and deadwood area at the Neuburg site, and a Pannonian Steppe typical for the region at the site in Győr (Hungary).

The biodiversity project in Münchsmünster is a central project for Audi as part of the nationwide Biodiversity in Good Company initiative, which the company joined in 2015. The initiative brings together companies from a wide array of industries to work together to protect and sustainably deploy worldwide biodiversity.

“We are celebrating five years of membership in the Biodiversity in Good Company initiative in 2020 and we want to show that we take nature conservation seriously with the projects at our locations,” said Rüdiger Recknagel, Head of Environmental Protection. “The natural areas are a successful example of sustainable corporate management: They are especially valuable ecologically and usually also cheaper to maintain than standard green spaces with high maintenance requirements. What’s more, employees experience a special quality of rest and relaxation during breaks.”

Audi is also committed to preserving biological diversity beyond the confines of the company. The Oak Forest research project was launched in 2008 in the Köschinger Forest near Ingolstadt with around 36,000 English oak trees. The project now comprises more than 100,000 trees in various areas around the Audi sites in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Győr, Brussels and San José Chiapa. The Audi Environmental Foundation was established in 2009 and has taken on the long-term scientific support for this project. The interactions between stand density, biological diversity and CO2-binding potential are being studied under the direction of the Chair of Forest Growth Science at the Technical University of Munich. The Oak Forest project is one of many environmental projects by the Audi Environmental Foundation that aim to preserve biodiversity.

Markus Söder Visits Audi: Bavaria’s Minister President Impressed with Protective Measures

The Minister President of Bavaria, Dr. Markus Söder, toured the Audi plant in Ingolstadt this Monday to witness the restart of production as well as the extensive measures being taken to protect the health of workers there. In addition, he took advantage of the opportunity for a personal meeting with Audi’s new Chairman of the Board of Management, Markus Duesmann, talking to him about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the automotive industry. The plant manager, Achim Heinfling, guided the Minister President together with Markus Duesmann and Peter Mosch, the General Works Council Chairmen, through the production facility. Starting today, Audi will be manufacturing the Audi A3 and Q2 on one line in three-shift rotation again after production was started in one shift two weeks ago following a coronavirus-related stop in production. The company is also planning to resume production of the Audi A4 and A5 in stages starting at the end of May. As production is being restarted, the focus at all times will be on protecting the health of employees. During his tour, Minister President Söder was given an overview of the extensive measures being taken to comply with social distancing and hygiene rules and to help people avoid contact with one another.

Dr. Markus Söder, Bavarian Minister President:
“The car is the draft horse of our industry. We want a 4,000-euro innovation bonus for low-emission cars and a 1,000-euro recycling bonus for older cars. Climate protection and affordable, future-proof mobility belong together. We need a sustainable guiding impulse in this crisis. Especially in times of a looming recession, politicians must and will set a strong signal. That is why we are securing jobs, protecting the climate, and improving the competitiveness of our automotive industry. This can even catapult us forward after the coronavirus crisis.”

Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG:
“Thanks to the commitment of our employees, we have successfully managed to gradually restart our plants in Europe and China. We are doing everything so that Audi can hit the ground running following this difficult period. Nevertheless, we will be dealing with the aftereffects of the pandemic for some time to come. That makes it all the more important for us to exchange information frequently with the government of the state of Bavaria.”

Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council of AUDI AG:
“We welcome the support that the Bavarian government has provided to the domestic automotive industry. The first production lines at Audi are running again while adhering to regulations on hygiene and social distancing. Now, what is important is for us to send the right signals for reviving the entire Bavarian and German economy. Providing the automotive industry with targeted assistance in the form of a bonus on the purchase of a new vehicle would have a tremendous impact on the environment and jobs in our country.”

Lorenz Führlinger – Biography

Lorenz Führlinger was born in Bruck an der Mur (Austria) on April 26, 1972.

While studying plastics engineering with a focus on physics, he wrote his diploma thesis in cooperation with AUDI AG in Ingolstadt. After graduating in 1998, he began his professional career at Audi as project coordinator for interior items from in-house production. He then held various positions in the development of interior equipment and seats.

He moved to Strategic Corporate Planning in January 2008 and to Audi China in Beijing in September 2010. There he first headed Strategy then the Research & Development Center in Beijing. 

He returned to Ingolstadt in July 2014 and was responsible for technical project management for the D series. He took charge of project management for the Pre-Series Center starting in 2016. In April 2019, Lorenz Führlinger first took over operational control and then, in January 2020, became Head of Development Chassis/Automated Driving.

Audi is preparing its first purely digital worldwide market launch for the new A3 family

“With the new A3 family, we are launching one of our most important model lines on the market this year. Thanks to the great commitment, creativity and motivation of our team and our partners, we were able to very swiftly and flexibly switch over to digital training formats so that our worldwide sales and service network could optimize their preparations for this,” said Horst Hanschur, Head of Retail Business Development and Customer Services at AUDI AG. “We benefit here from our many years of experience in using digital tools for our sales and service training. In view of the currently difficult worldwide situation, we are further accelerating the shift to digitalization we had already initiated. We are already working intensively on the next steps and we want to further develop this methodology, especially for our electric offensive. With the increasing digitalization of our vehicles, we are consequently also digitalizing our training methodology.”

The training of the more than 35,000 worldwide sales and service employees is based on the train-the-trainer principle: AUDI AG provides centralized training – and normally also physically at the location – for about 400 product, sales and service trainers as well as about 250 technical trainers from 90 markets worldwide. These trainers then pass on what they’ve learned to the respective employees at their locations. To ensure uniform quality standards worldwide, AUDI AG had already produced a large number of digital training formats for this purpose – some of them in the company’s own television studio – and had made them available in various languages. Virtual reality formats were also used for the first time for the market launch of the Audi e-tron. This know-how is now being applied to the train-the-trainer courses for the A3 family.

The “Central Launch Experience” (CLX) for the market launch teams in sales and service started several weeks ago with web-based training courses on new design features, engine/transmission variants and assist systems, for example. There are also video conferences where individual detailed questions can be clarified with experts from Ingolstadt. Extensive training documents are also available on an online platform for the global markets.

Technical training for the new A3 has also been presented on a purely digital basis. A digital self-learning program is offered for the model with pre- and post-testing, its own video format – Audi Service TV – and expert tutorials for questions coming from the markets. An augmented reality training course on the drive units will soon be supplemented with a virtual reality application with the technical highlights of the new Audi A3.

All content is available worldwide in the “Audi Knowledge Tank” digital knowledge database.

Orders can now be placed in Europe for the new Audi A3 Sportback* and the A3 Sedan* and these will arrive at dealerships in the summer, with rollout in other markets to follow successively. The Audi A3 g-tron and a plug-in hybrid model will also be added to the range this year.

*Fuel Consumption
Audi A3 Sportback: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.1 – 3.5; Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 116 – 92;
Audi A3 Sedan: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.0 – 3.6; Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 114 – 96;
(Information on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as well as efficiency classes in ranges depending on the tires and alloy wheel rims used.)