Audi is about to embark on the next stage of its range expansion - and the choice facing Audi buyers is about to get even more confusing, with a flurry of crossovers, niche models and go-faster high-performance diesel models.
Chairman Rupert Stadler told CAR that the Audi range is going to be stretched by a further 10 models, as the new-model proliferation continues unabated.
‘We currently have 50 model lines and that will grow to 60 models by the end of the decade,’ Stadler revealed.
Audi grows its product range to 60: what’s coming next?
Stadler refused to be drawn on the exact make-up of the extra 10 Audis heading to your nearest showroom, but gave CAR considerable guidance in an interview in Copenhagen overnight.
One model which is confirmed is the new Q1 crossover. The baby Q1 is the smallest SUV in Audi’s planned portfolio of SUVs and Stadler promised that it would be different enough from the A1, in the same way as the Q3 is distanced from the A3.
‘You’ll see the Q1 at the end of 2015 or possibly early 2016,’ he said. The Audi Q1 will be built at the Ingolstadt factory in Germany alongside the A3, A4 and A5.
‘The Audi Q1 is part of our broad-based SUV strategy. It is designed on the basis of the [MQB Golf-alike] modular transverse engine concept and will round off our Q series at the bottom end.’
How much more space is there in the Audi range?
It’s worth remembering that Audi classes sporting derivatives as new models; the S3, for instance, is a standalone product in Audi’s counting methodology.
So it’s likely that a good number of the extra 10 Audis coming will be spin-off body styles from existing models, rather than being brand new distinct launches. ‘There’s potential in the C- and D-segments [Audi nomenclature for A6/A7 and A8 families] in the space above the €70,000-80,000 bracket. Look at what we do with our A4 and A5 ranges - we have saloons, Avants, coupes, Sportbacks…’
This suggests that the large Audis will continue to mutate into more niches, with more Sportbacks, estates and coupes coming to match the homegrown rivals from BMW and Mercedes as the executive sector fragments even further.
Audi S and RS diesels are coming
Stadler hinted that the company would launch more high-performance diesel models in the coming months, too. The SQ5 is Audi’s first faster diesel and at least one other S-badged rapid derv is in the pipeline, CAR can confirm.
The chairman admitted that the RS5 diesel concept car could also turn into a product reality. The 3.0-litre Bi-TDI would become the brand’s first RS diesel model, adding an electric turbocharger to its pair of conventional blowers.
‘At Le Mans we showed we could win with a high-powered diesel, so why not on the road? At Audi, first we test, then we bring to customers. That’s always our intention.’
Could the Sport Quattro concept be built? Very possibly, but ‘it’s too early to tell,’ said Stadler. ‘Most of our new models will be aimed at getting younger owners into Audis. The A1 has been a big success for us; 80% of A1 customers had never been in an Audi before.’
Why Audi continues to grow
Stadler said that Audi had to continue to grow its model range as it sought to pass 2 million new-car sales a year by 2020. Audi sold 1,575,500 cars in 2013, up 8.3% on the previous year. ‘This year we will exceed 1.6 million,’ vowed Stadler. And he’s pumping €22 billion into R&D and manufacturing to make sure that happens.
Be in no doubt; this is the Volkswagen colossus in action. Anybody care to bet against Audi achieving its ambitious goals?