To achieve its goal of becoming the world's leading premium car maker by 2015, Audi continues to pull out all the stops. And while the range is stretching down with the A1 and imminent A2 superminis, Ingolstadt is also eyeing a move upmarket - with a proposed new A9.
A new Audi A9? Where's this going to end? World domination?
Probably. For now CEO Rupert Stadler and his R&D supremo Michael Dick are zooming in on a full-size two-door flagship which will in all likelihood be based on the current A8.
Known internally as A9, the high-end four-seater gets a bespoke exterior and an evolution of the pace-setting A8 interior. To be built in Neckarsulm alongside the saloon and the R8, the A9 could appear as early as 2014 in coupe form.
Audi A9: other bodystyles
Structurally, the sleek A9 is said to be eye-catching according to sources who've seen the initial design sketches. A soft-top conversion is in the plan, which should hit the market in 2015, six months before the next-gen Mercedes CL cabriolet.
Pricewise, the new Audi A9 will be positioned above the BMW 6-series but below the CL. Let's call it £75,000 in today's money.
Here is the provisional engine line-up for the 2014 Audi A9:
• 3.0 V6 TFSI 211bhp
• 3.0 V6 TFSI 290bhp (exit supercharger, enter a single turbo)
• 4.0 V8 twin-turbo TFSI 420bhp
• 4.0 V8 twin-turbo TFSI 520bhp (S9 only)
• 3.0 V6 TDI 250bhp
• 4.2 V8 TDI 350bhp
Quattro is standard, as is the eight-speed automatic with an optional hybrid module.
Hasn't Audi planned a range-topper before?
Ten years ago, Audi showed the A8 Avantissimo concept which was meant to become a mega-Avant for the rich. Although the first proposal was shot down by the powerful product strategy committee PSK, a more coupe-like A8 Avant straddled all hurdles but the very last one in 2004.
After that, Audi toyed with the idea to make the A7 its new halo car, and to create a four-door soft-top from the same components set. As we all know, this project, too, turned out to be a cul-de-sac.
Never taking 'no' for an answer, brand chief Stadler is about to embark on yet another variation of the Super Audi theme. And who'd bet against the Audi A9 making the production roster? Not us.