The head of Audi Sport has confirmed the Ingolstadt-based firm is working hard to have its five-cylinder engine – as used in the likes of the RS3 range and the TT RS – meet increasingly strict emissions regulations in Europe.

Speaking to whichcar.com.au, Audi Sport boss Oliver Hoffmann said there were plans afoot to ensure the turbocharged 2,5-litre five-pot would live on.

“It is more difficult, but it’s not just a question of how difficult it is. For EU7, we have concepts for all our engines, but it’s just a matter of how much money I have to spend to reach the targets,” he said.

“For the five-cylinder we have a very, very, good concept to reach those standards.”

Annette Möllhoff, a product planner at Audi Sport, added “the five cylinder is so strongly combined with the heritage of Audi”, suggesting it furthermore differentiated the RS3 Sportback from rivals such as the four-cylinder Mercedes-AMG A45 S.

“It’s our number one USP in those models, and every time we launch a new model with the five-cylinder, we get the feedback that ‘we are so happy you stick to that engine and don’t downgrade to the four-cylinder’,” she told the Australian publication.

“It’s not a battle [to keep it], but of course there has to be a discussion and a business case, and everybody understands the value that it brings and that it’s necessary to keep it in the portfolio. It’s so emotional, and highly valued in the history of the company.

“Emissions are tightening for the five-cylinder, as well. We are working towards that; we’re working right now on the horizon of four to five years ahead and we are right in the discussion with EU7, which is a big topic. But we are aware of it and we are preparing the five-cylinder.”

In the RS3 Sportback and RS3 Sedan, the five-cylinder engine generates 294 kW and 480 N.m. Currently, these models are not available in South Africa, but supply is expected to resume at some point later in 2019.