In a couple of years you'll likely be able to buy a four-door hatchback (ok coupe, if we must) from a mainstream manufacturer that produces 650hp. Madness. But that's what happens when you combine a twin-turbocharged V8 with an electric motor; you get large round numbers. Which is exactly what Audi is thought to be doing with the next-generation RS7 Sportback.
The new model is widely expected to share the same petrol-electric powertrain that has the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E Hybrid producing 680hp. We'd imagine Ingolstadt's version developing slightly less than that (because Porsche) but it'll have the same eight-speed auto and - you'd imagine - the same access to a modest zero emission range.
Certainly the current RS7 is getting on a bit (it's based on the eight-year-old A7) so much so that when Matt put one up against the new Panamera last year, it was pretty much left for dead despite being a wholly compelling machine in isolation. It provides space for four and their luggage while offering supercar-like straight-line pace and abundant all-wheel drive traction. For the next car to improve on this it'll need significant changes under the skin.
However, if the rumour mill is to be believed (and if Audi is to both have its cake, and eat it) the RS7 will also spawn a more direct successor to the current car in the shape of an 'entry-level' model powered by the boosted 4.0-litre V8 exclusively. Given the Performance version of the outgoing model already produces in excess of 600hp, we'd expect its follow up to be around the same mark - which is unlikely to leave anyone feeling disappointed.
Audi confirmed earlier this year that it was abandoning the in-house developed MLB platform that underpins today's car so you might expect the 2020 RS7 to inherit the Porsche-engineered MSB platform used to great effect by the Panamera and also the Bentley Continental GT. And, well, you'd be right. But the A7/RS7's structure will be shorter, plus it'll use air suspension with its own parameters, so it would probably be an oversimplification to describe it as a reworked Panamera skeleton. Audi will probably also have a new version of its Dynamic Ride Control available as a firmer option tailored specifically to the RS7.
Heavily camouflaged though it may be in our spy shots, the new car's silhouette is clearly an evolution of the current RS7 - which comes as no surprise. There is, however, a visible new light bar at the rear, plus, the whole car looks a little larger - again, predictable. Expect an interior packed with the latest Audi Virtual Cockpit technology and no small amout of wood and leather. And expect a near six-figure price, too.