A camouflaged prototype believed to be the successor to the Audi S5 Sportback has been spied in Europe.

    Following images of the standard A5 Sportback last month, photographers have spied the go-fast version sporting a more aggressive body kit, bigger wheels and brakes, and of course the quad tailpipe treatment out back which is a signature of Audi S models.

    It’s understood this new A5/S5 will replace both the current generation as well as the combustion-powered A4/S4.

    Audi CEO Markus Duesmann recently told Germany’s Bild the company plans to change its naming structure, saying “the odd numbers will be the combustion engines and the even numbers will stand for the battery electric vehicles”.

    “The successor to today’s A4 will be called the A5, and today’s A6 will be called the A7. The A4 and A6 will then be electric,” Mr Duesmann said.

    Audi has already teased its upcoming A6 e-tron with a pair of concepts – a Sedan and Avant wagon – ahead of an expected market launch in 2024, with the SUV-bodied Q6 e-tron and Q6 e-tron Sportback scheduled to commence production before the end of this year.

    The A5 and A7, meanwhile, haven’t been teased or conceptualised in any way, with these camouflaged prototypes serving as the only preview for Audi’s next-generation internal-combustion models.

    It appears the blending of the current A4 and A5 model lines could see a trimming of available body styles, with only the five-door Sportback and Avant wagon versions spied so far. The existing A4 Sedan as well as A5 Coupe and A5 Cabriolet offerings could be on the chopping block.

    Like the standard A5, the high-performance S5 is expected to run on an updated version of the existing MLB Evo architecture, with front- and all-wheel drive configurations offered.

    As we can see on recent prototypes, the exterior design will be more evolution than revolution – as is typical Audi – while the interior looks set to get larger free-standing displays with reduced physical switchgear, as recently spied in an Avant prototype.

    Updated versions of the existing turbo petrol and diesel powertrain options are likely, potentially upgrading the current 12V mild-hybrid system on four-cylinder models to more sophisticated 48V technology.

    Expect plug-in hybrids to feature globally too, with the high-performance S5 and RS5 to be renewed for another generation.

    Whether the current 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 in the S4/S5 and Porsche-developed 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 in the RS4/RS5 will make the cut, likely with some form of electrification, is yet to be seen.

    Last year, photographers snapped an early prototype for the successor to the RS4 Avant, believed to be running a new plug-in hybrid system under the camouflaged bodywork.

    That makes sense, given the current RS4 and RS5’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 does service in the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid – making system outputs of 340kW and 700Nm with the petrol V6 running a fairly mild 243kW/400Nm tune.

    Currently, the petrol-only RS4 and RS5 develop 331kW and 600Nm, so expect the PHEV technology to give the new-generation a healthy bump in power and torque to compete with the new plug-in hybrid Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Perfomance – which makes a monstrous 500kW and 1020Nm from its four-cylinder PHEV drivetrain.

    However, the S5 shown here will likely make do with a mild-hybrid turbocharged petrol engine. Existing models make 260kW and 500Nm from a 3.0-litre turbo V6, within the ballpark of the 245kW/420Nm 2.0 TSI in the VW Golf R 20 Years should Audi choose to downsize, as well as the 294kW/500Nm 2.5 TFSI in the smaller Audi RS3.

    It’s unclear whether the company will retain six cylinders or downsize to meet stricter emissions regulations.

    Standard versions of the new Audi A5 are expected to debut either late this year or early next, with the performance models likely to follow in the months after.

    The new-generation range should hit Europe shortly after reveal, with an Australian market launch likely to be the usual 6-12 months after that.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest, and click the images for the full gallery

    MORE: Everything Audi A4 | S4 | A5 | S5

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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