For Audi, the Q suffix is like a licence to print money. The Q-boom began with the Q7, reached a new high with the Q5 and is about to go stratospheric with the Q3. But that is only the beginning: the coupe-like Q6 was given the nod earlier this year, the three-door Q4 is almost ready to be signed off, and the entry-level Q1 is allegedly only a formality.
In 2010, Q7 production increased by 37.1% to 47,700 units, the Q5 climbed 32.4% to 155,000 vehicle, and when you add the 100,000 Q3 that will be built in Spain, the Q-tally quickly passes the quarter million unit mark. And not yet included in this grand total is the Porsche Cajun (a Cayenne Jnr), which is based on the current Q5, goes on sale in 2013, and is budgeted at 35,000 cars per year.
Theoretically, the Q6 could also go on sale in 2013 when the Q5 is due to undergo a minor facelift. More realistic, however, is a launch in 2016 which would dovetail nicely with the second-generation Q5. This more relaxed timing would enable the product planners to carry out a complete re-skin, and it would allow a switch to the more advanced and lighter MLB Evo matrix that promises better economy, enhanced safety and superior dynamics.
Audi’s future Q model mix
In early 2014, the Q7 will be replaced by a new model based on MLB Evo architecture. It is said to shed 300kg in weight, feature a body made of aluminium, and be available in plug-in hybrid form.
In mid-2016, the second-generation Q5 is due to be unveiled. Also derived from MLB Evo, it is reportedly 100kg lighter and less nose-heavy than the model it replaces.
In late 2016, the Q6 coupe will be ready to aim at the gap between the BMW X5 and the X6. The Q6 is to be twinned with the new Q5 and the five-door Porsche Cajun.
For early 2017, Audi’s product planners have earmarked the two-door Audi Q4, which will share its DNA with the three-door shooting brake version of the Porsche Cajun.
The Q6 and Q4 have, of course, been influenced by the successful X6 and by the stillborn BMW X4. Even though BMW built over 44,000 X6s last year, Audi expects to eclipse its rival by offering a prettier shape, a more spacious rear passenger compartment, better visibility, easier entry and exit, a bigger cargo deck, a lower loading lip and an optional full-length glass roof.
In an ideal world, the bean counters will okay a completely new body-in-white for the Q6, complete with a more steeply raked windscreen, a lower roofline and a broader stance – our artist’s impression shows how the Q6 might look. In contrast, the five-door Porsche Cajun must combine the body structure and the greenhouse of the current Q5 with bespoke hang-on panels.
The three-door Pajun, on the other hand, can share many hardware items with the Audi Q4. According to those in the know, Audi is currently evaluating three different approaches to the Q4 theme: an elegant premium crossover coupe; an overtly sporty model complete with flared wings, extended sills and various drag-cutting addenda; and a Q4 Allroad with a track-and-field bodykit and, probably, with height-adjustable air suspension as part of the bespoke Drive Select menu.
Both the Q4 and Q6 will be offered with a variety of more potent engines. The revised 3.0-litre V6 TFSI unit – which is about to drop the supercharger in favour of a single turbo – churns out 296bhp and 295lb ft while consuming up to 20% less fuel. Also new is the uprated 2.0-litre TFSI which musters 217bhp and 258lb ft. The mid-level 3.0-litre V6 TDI is in the future good for 249bhp and 406lb ft. All powerplants meet the EU6 emission norm. The plug-in hybrid combines the 2.0 petrol engine with a 99bhp electric motor for plenty of bottom end grunt and commendable efficiency.
And what of Audi’s smallest 4x4?
As far as the Q1 is concerned, the R&D wizards from Ingolstadt are evaluating these three options:
If the competitive situation demands it, a rebodied soft-roader derived from the five-door A1 Sportback Quattro could be rushed into production by 2013
By 2015, Audi could develop an all-new compact crossover which would use the advanced modular MQB architecture pioneered by the next A3
Come 2016, the brand-new A2 – which is being designed around a high-tech multi-material vehicle structure – could pave the way for an uncommonly light high-roof model.
At this point, Audi seems to favour a mix of A2 and MQB element, bringing both the weight down and tapping into the extensive synergy effects of the group’s biggest-volume matrix. In this scenario, Audi would mate its own bespoke body made of lightweight elements to a platform, chassis and driveline shared with other brands.
The rumour mill is even picturing a full-size Q9, but Audi chief Rupert Stadler is not convinced: ‘We looked at this segment long and hard. Right now, I am inclined to ignore it. Why? Because full-size SUVs sell only in certain markets, because we are putting a strong emphasis on reducing the weight and bulk of our vehicles, and because a Q9 would not create much incremental brand value. There is no doubt however that crossovers are still selling like hot cakes even though the trend seems to shift towards more compact models.’
>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of Audi's Q model plans