If loose lips sink ships, then Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann is a walking, talking U-boat. Fresh off revealing that Audi's performance division plans on giving the RS treatment to one of the the company's crossovers before the venerable R8, the former Lamborghini CEO told Auto Express today that Audi Sport might take the automaker where it's never gone before—rear-wheel-drive.
The modern Audi brand started out building front-wheel-drive cars like the 100 and 80 in the late 1960s, and it's been pretty much synonymous with all-wheel-drive since the introduction of the ubiquitous "Quattro" nameplate in the early 1980s. The performance wing was even called Quattro GmbH up until last year, sharing in that heritage. All this to say that rear-wheel-drive is basically nowhere to be found in Audi's DNA.
But one of Winkelmann's first moves last year when he took the helm of Quattro GmbH was to ditch the old name and re-christen it Audi Sport, and now we know it's not just because "GmbH" is a really weird combination of consonants in English.
"When looking at the name, we decided Quattro could be misleading. Quattro is the four-wheel-drive system and is one of the things that made Audi great—but in our opinion was not the right name for the company," he said to Auto Express at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. "I can imagine we can also have cars with rear-wheel drive or two-wheel drive in the future."
Winkelmann wouldn't reveal which models exactly could be converted, but we'd be lying if we said we'd never dreamed about an Audi RS 7 putting all its power to the rear wheels. And then there's the R8, which already shares a platform with the RWD-available Lamborghini Huracan. Winkelmann added that the automaker will unveil two new RS models at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, though that's probably too soon for these RWD comments to make their way to reality.
Still, it's all part of the plan to give Audi Sport a higher profile outside the company, similar to the way BMW's M Division and Mercedes-AMG are basically household names. Seems to us that going against the grain with a car capable of a proper burnout would be an excellent start.