How do you know a car is nearing production? When it has its coming out party at the Nurburgring. We've seen A6 and A7 mules that we thought were RS mules before but there's no question about this Avant. Those bolstered fender flares are one easy spot but the other is a disguised fascia nearly identical to RS 4 mules before that car was revealed.
Under the hood we expect to see a higher-powered variation of the 4.0 TFSI, but power levels remains to be seen. One could guess that at the very least the car will have power similar to the S8 or Bentley Continental GT V8, but at this point we don't expect Audi to simply drop either version of that engine into the car.
Why not use S8 or Continental GT 4.0 TFSI setup? We're going on past history in devising our theory. quattro GmbH develops their own engines for their own cars. Yes, it can be a variation of a current engine (say 4.2 FSI vs. 4.2 FSI high-rev or 2.7T vs. 2.7T high output in the B 5 RS 4) but there's no example we know where a modern Audi RS car simply used an engine from Audi's (or the Volkswagen Group's) regular portfolio.
The next mystery around this car is the fenders. This car is wearing what looks like arched flares (think RS 4 B5 and B7 or RS 3), though the cladding makes it hard to tell. We'll put it out to our readers to make their guesses. Will the flares be blister fenders like the RS 5 and inspired by the ur quattro or will Audi go back to its RS roots with the arched flares of the B5?
See the rest of this photo set below.