Audi Sport’s chief engineer, Stephan Reil, is leaving the high-performance subsidiary, which previously was known as Quattro GmbH and which has always enjoyed considerable independence form the mothership. Reil was a fixture at the company and perhaps the most prominent face there next to his various bosses, who included Werner Frowein, Frank van Meel, Heinz Hollerweger, and Stephan Winkelmann.
Starting with the RS4, which launched in 1999, the 52-year-old was responsible for every new vehicle project from Quattro/Audi Sport. Under his watch, Audi decided to go with—and stick with—a high-revving naturally aspirated V-10 for the R8 supercar, a controversial decision that has worked out well from both image and financial points of view.
Reil also oversaw the expansion of the portfolio to include SUV models. Over the next three years, the Audi Sport lineup will grow from 11 to 16 models. In crafting Audi Sport models, Reil was no fan of diesels, even though several R8 diesel prototypes were built, as well as an RS5 that was used to showcase electric supercharging. Reil also believed that the added power of hybridization did not justify the extra weight, and he didn’t want the company to build fully electric RS vehicles until they could be demonstrably as good as conventionally powered ones.
Reil, who will stay with Audi in an as yet undisclosed capacity, will be replaced by 40-year-old engineer Oliver Hoffmann. Known as a true gearhead, Hoffman gained plenty of performance-car experience at Lamborghini, where he was responsible for the Gallardo/Huracàn/R8 5.2-liter V-10; he also headed engine development at Audi’s Györ, Hungary, plant.