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Audi innovations: In the fight for the premium crown

Christian Schulte
Audi news
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T he story of a lonely climber is over. Everything has been told, there will be no sequel à la Dallas or Denver. Why not? Because there is a new story to tell. That of a brand that has firmly established itself and whose success is followed with envy by many - Audi.

Strictly speaking, the story ended on December 31, 2011 at midnight. At that point it was clear that Audi had left the Mercedes-Benz brand behind in terms of sales and was more successful in China than in its home market of Germany. Now Mercedes has to catch up with Audi, and now BMW and Mercedes have to prove that they can imitate Audi in China. In one case you have three brands (BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce) and in the other two and a half brands (Mercedes, Smart and Maybach until 2013).

Q4 and Q6 as coupá-style SUVs

In contrast to Audi - the brand only has itself in this regard. At least when it comes to sales. Technically, however, as part of the VW Group, it is better networked than its competitors, who have to enter into many complicated collaborations with manufacturers such as PSA, Toyota and Renault-Nissan in order not to be left behind in terms of purchasing advantages thanks to shared-part strategies.

And the model offensive is making huge strides: 'There is still potential for further models in the Q family,' announced Michael Dick, head of development at auto motor und sport. And by no means an Audi Q1, as many suspect. As is well known, the cash register is always right, especially in the upper segment, and so Audi has modified the Q5 platform twice: once downwards towards a 4.50 meter long Q4 and upwards to a 4.80 meter long Q6. He can then act as a rival to the Mercedes M-Class and BMW X5. The Audi Q7 is in principle much too bulky for this role with a length of 5.09 meters.

The Audi Q4 (from 2014), basically identical to the Porsche Macan, which is also being planned, will counter this Many speculations were not sent into the race as a two-door model, but as a full-fledged four-door model with a coupé-like design based on the modular system. This differs from the Q3, which is based on the transverse platform. Its luggage compartment should offer a volume of around 500 liters, making it around 50 litersbelow that of an Audi Q5. Both new Q variants will be available with four-cylinder and, unlike the Q3, with six-cylinder engines. It is still open whether they will also be offered as full hybrid vehicles like the Q5.

Audi A9 at the IAA 2013

That certainly depends on how the sales of this environmental concept, which will also start in the A8 in spring. In 2013/14, Audi is rolling out its plug-in strategy at the same time: It starts with the A3 Sportback, followed by the A4 and Q7 (both from 2015). The electric drive will initially be reserved for the R8 E-Tron (from the end of the year) and the A2 (from 2014), the natural gas variant will also be offered as the A3 from the end of 2013.

The Audi A9 will be available in the same year a new luxury liner is launched, which will celebrate its premiere at the IAA 2013. There are still internal discussions as to whether it should be a two-door or a four-door, but at the moment everything speaks in favor of the four-door version for the model launch. The Mercedes CL competitor stretches over 5.15 meters and the top version is also to be powered by a twelve-cylinder, which by then will probably have cylinder deactivation in order to be moderate in consumption.

At this point in time, the vision of autonomous driving is ready to be announced, which will take the driver away from the driver in unpleasant situations such as traffic jams or stop-and-go traffic. The parking assistant, which can steer the car into the garage without the driver having to do anything, will even be ready for series use beforehand and will definitely be offered as an option. According to Michael Dick, Chief Technology Officer, the luxury liner should 'be clearly differentiated from an Audi A8 as a very sporty variant'.

Audi R5 with front engine or mid-engine? It has not yet been decided which family member the new sports car with the working title Audi R5 will borrow. For reasons of cost, there is much to suggest that the two-seater between the TT and R8 will have a front engine, whereby a five-cylinder would then be used as a continuation of the original Quattro story - of course as a modern interpretation of the current, somewhat older engine from the Audi TT RS . However, if the return on sales continues to develop so phenomenally, the whole project could also turn into a small mid-engine model as a shortened R8 - more expensive than the front-wheel drive version, but of course also much more exclusive and therefore certainly a more appealing delicacy for sports car enthusiasts.

To this end, even the Audi A1 could develop in the small car segment. After a difficult start, more than 100,000 units were sold in 2011 - so sales are picking up. Audi boss Stadler has ruled out a convertible in the current model generation. And why? Because he knows that there will be an alternative to this: not a completely open car, but a roll-top version that is cheaper to produce andthus it will be cheaper to sell. A new competitor to the Fiat 500 C will emerge from 2013, albeit with a fixed rear window. It can be sunk at the Italian competitor.

So the success story should be continued, especially in Asia. The Audi brand does not need a Maybach or a Rolls-Royce for this, but it does need an A8, which in future will be offered not only as an L, but also as an XL. Hopefully there will be enough space to accommodate the increased self-confidence of the former persecutor.


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