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Audi’s new car extravaganza (2009)

Published: 14 December 2007

Audi is preparing a slew of almost a dozen new models over the next eighteen months – headlined by a new twin-turbo diesel-powered TT – and we’ve got lowdown on these key models that will, Audi hopes, make it the world’s best-selling premium motoring brand by 2015.

A diesel TT?

Indeed. Caught here undergoing initial cold-weather trials, this diesel TT mule even features a dash-mounted warning to remind the driver to refuel only with diesel. But contrary to numerous reports, the TT will not run Audi’s current 2.0-litre 170bhp – CAR’s sources claim Audi is prepping a twin-turbo version of its common rail diesel. Like BMW’s superb new biturbo diesel, the TT unit will feature a small responsive blower for instant throttle response at low revs, and then a bigger turbo for high-rev punch.

Expect at least 200bhp from the transversely-mounted four-cylinder unit, and a mighty 295lb ft of torque for a 0-60mph time of 6.5 seconds, a 145mph top speed and some serious in-gear go – not bad for something that should return around 40mpg in the real world. Audi is currently developing a new seven-speed S-tronic transmission to handle the engine’s massive torque as the current six-cog box has a threshold of 260lb ft, and naturally, the diesel TT will be quattro all-wheel-drive only. It should debut in early 2009 – probably at the Geneva motor show – and arrive here in the summer with a £28,000 price tag.

What about a TT with an RS badge?

You’ll get that, and an S-version. Before the diesel TT arrives, Audi will unveil two hotter petrol-powered TT quattro models – the S and RS. The S will be officially launched in both coupe and roadster guise at the Detroit Motor Show in January, powered a heavily uprated version of Audi’s frisky turbo-charged 2.0-litre direct injection engine. Official outputs have yet to be announced, but our spies say expect at least 265bhp and a 258lb ft driving all-four wheels through six-speed manual or S-tronic double-clutch boxes. Expect a £33,000 price tag when it arrives here next summer.

I want more!

If that’s not brisk enough for you, Audi’s go-faster Quattro division is developing a snarling RS flagship version that runs a 2.5-litre five cylinder engine – effectively half the engine block from the RS6’s 5.0-litre V10 – that features the VW group’s innovative TSI twin-charge technology. And with both supercharger and turbo blower breathing hard, it’s going to be hell of a rocket – insiders talk of at least 350bhp, running through a rear-biased quattro drive for a far more dynamic driving experience. It’ll use the newly developed seven-speed S-tronic transmission and come with a heavily tweaked Magnatronic suspension system.

Looking every inch a coupe version of the recent TT Clubsport concept, the RS will ditch its rear seats to bring its kerb weight down to 1400kg. With a five second sprint to 60mph and eyeball-flattening mid-range punch, it should be able to show both the Cayman S and Nissan 350Z the door and give M3 drivers a hard time. At around £44,000 it won’t be cheap, but being built by Quattro it will be very exclusive and arguably a real successor to Audi’s seminal 1980 ur-Quattro. Yours in early 2009.

What about something smaller?

Arguably the European star of this year’s Tokyo motor show, the Metroproject quattro  concept is a thinly disguised take on Audi’s upcoming A1 (which we’ve caught in prototype form, right). At 3910mm long, 1750mm wide and 1400mm high, the small three-door hatch will be perfectly sized to take on BMW’s Mini and Fiat’s 500. And there will be plenty of choice too, with three and five door hatch, a convertible and a coupe planned, not to mention a Q1 soft-roader. If Mini can do it…

Ignore the showcar’s headline-grabbing hybrid drivetrain – the production A1 – which will borrow its chassis architecture from the next-gen A3 – will initially run punchy 1.4-litre petrol units (with 65, 85, 105, 140 and 170bhp variants) and 1.6-litre diesel engines (in 75, 90, 105 and 130bhp guise) with the option of six-speed manual or a low-cost seven-speed S-tronic transmissions. And it will be equipped with quattro as standard to give it a USP over the Mini and Fiat. And quattro means an S1 flagship is definitely on the cards. There are no details on the S1’s proposed powertrain, but a 200bhph twin-charge TSI unit is thought to be top of the list of potentials. Start saving – prices for the premium city car should start at £11,000 when it arrives in showrooms in early 2009. 

And something to put the wind in my hair?

It’s come rather late in the life of the A3, but the A3 cabriolet should prove an instant hit with fashion-conscious and badge-aware buyers. Based on the current three-door A3 hatch, the convertible’s chassis has been overhauled and reinforced for additional torsional rigidity. There’s a choice of roofs – either a cheaper semi-automatic of the full one-touch version that comes as standard on all Sport models. It drops away in just nine seconds and can be operated at up to 18mph. The convertible wears Audi’s latest version of its corporate face – it’ll be grafted on to the A3 when it’s facelifted later early next year – and opting for a more compact fabric roof rather than a folding metal structure means boot space is a decent 350litres.  It arrives here next April with the choice of four direct-injection turbo-charged engines – two petrol (160bhp 1.8-litre TSFI and 200bhp 2.0-litre TSFI) and two diesel (105bhp 1.9TDI 140bhp 2.0-litre TDI) – and a starting price around the £20,000 mark.

And what about something to leave every supercar standing?

The RS6 is big on big numbers. The rocket-sled estate is powered by a 5.0-litre V10 breathed on by two turbo chargers for 571bhp at 6350rpm and 479lb ft at 1500-6250rpm. It will claw its way to 60mph in 4.6 seconds, hit 125mph in just 14.9 seconds and nudge its 155mph limiter with disdainful ease. 

That power is fed to a quattro drivetrain with a 60:40 rear:front split via six-speed Tiptronic transmission. And don’t forget some of the biggest ceramic brakes we’ve seen – 420mm discs up front, and 356mm discs at the rear. Want more numbers? Average fuel consumption is an alarming 20.3mpg, there’s 1660litres of boot space with the rear seats folded away, the car weighs a massive 2025kg and it arrives next April with an estimated £70,000 price tag.

What about something with style?

Audi’s svelte answer to Mercedes’ CLS, the A7 arrives in September 2009, but we’ll get more of a clue when Audi shows an A7-based concept at the 2008 New York auto show. Based on the current A6 model, the low and lithe four-door A7 will not only look good, but also deliver the driver engagement to match with a bespoke new steering rack, tweaked suspension and a rear-biased quattro drivetrain.

The engine line-up will feature a wide array of six and eight cylinder engines including Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrols, topped by naturally aspirated and twin-turbo version of the 5.0-litre V10 from the S6 and RS6. Two diesels – 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 TDI units round up the powertrain line-up. Expect prices to range from £35,000 to £55,000 – placing the A7 squarely between top-end A6 models and lower rung A8s. And in typical niche-busting Audi style, a convertible is also on the cards.

Anything on the R8 front?

We love the R8 – we voted it our performance car of the year – so the thought of a roofless Spider version has us seriously considering down-sizing the house and packing the children of to a state school. The R8 ragtop will be an absolute stunner, complete with twin speedster humps incorporating breathing vents for the mid-engined V8 behind the two-seater cockpit.

Rather than go for a space-expensive removable fabric roof or folding hardtop roof, the Spider will have removable targa panels. And because the Spider was penned into the R8 line-up at its inception, the aluminium-intensive chassis should be exceptionally stiff to handle the 414bhp 4.2-litre V8 engine – as well as the proposed 500bhp V10 version that’s out 18 months from now.  You have until mid 2009 to start saving for the anticipated £85,000 the 4.2-litre Spider will set you back.

What about something with style?

Audi’s svelte answer to Mercedes’ CLS, the A7 arrives in September 2009, but we’ll get more of a clue when Audi shows an A7-based concept at the 2008 New York auto show. Based on the current A6 model, the low and lithe four-door A7 will not only look good, but also deliver the driver engagement to match with a bespoke new steering rack, tweaked suspension and a rear-biased quattro drivetrain.

The engine line-up will feature a wide array of six and eight cylinder engines including Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrols, topped by naturally aspirated and twin-turbo version of the 5.0-litre V10 from the S6 and RS6. Two diesels – 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 TDI units round up the powertrain line-up. Expect prices to range from £35,000 to £55,000 – placing the A7 squarely between top-end A6 models and lower rung A8s. And in typical niche-busting Audi style, a convertible is also on the cards.

Anything on the R8 front?

We love the R8 – we voted it our performance car of the year – so the thought of a roofless Spider version has us seriously considering down-sizing the house and packing the children of to a state school. The R8 ragtop will be an absolute stunner, complete with twin speedster humps incorporating breathing vents for the mid-engined V8 behind the two-seater cockpit.

Rather than go for a space-expensive removable fabric roof or folding hardtop roof, the Spider will have removable targa panels. And because the Spider was penned into the R8 line-up at its inception, the aluminium-intensive chassis should be exceptionally stiff to handle the 414bhp 4.2-litre V8 engine – as well as the proposed 500bhp V10 version that’s out 18 months from now.  You have until mid 2009 to start saving for the anticipated £85,000 the 4.2-litre Spider will set you back.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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