Audi continued its remarkable run of successive years of annual growth in 2011 and its relentless pursuit of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in Australia will be helped in 2012 with an update to its 3-Series and C-Class competitor, the A4, and a more practical, five-door variant of the A1.
The company’s most affordable SUV yet, the Q3, shouldn’t hurt sales, either. The next-generation Audi A3 will be revealed in 2012 but it’s not clear at this stage whether it will reach Australian showrooms before 2013.
For those who prefer the sportier Audis, the S badge is applied to numerous models in 2012 – the A6, A7 Sportback and A8. A new RS6, and possibly RS4, are also anticipated, though not necessarily for 2012.
Vehicle type: Compact SUV. Timing: Q1
Audi’s smallest SUV, based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Tiguan. The 4390mm-long Q3 will arrive in Q1 to join the mid-sized Q5 and large Q7 and will be offered with at least one petrol and one diesel – from a selection of four 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinders available in Europe. Buyers will also be able to choose between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants. Expect pricing to be comparable to rivals such as the BMW X1, which starts at $46,100.
Entry-level version of Audi’s iconic coupe gains a dual-clutch auto gearbox option.
Vehicle type: Luxury car. Timing: Q1
A host of updates will be applied to Audi’s A4-based coupe in early 2012. In addition to exterior styling tweaks, there are some engine changes – including a new 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that will replace the 2.0 TFSI and make its local debut in the A5 Sportback before going into other models (such as the TT). There’s also a slightly more powerful version of the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, now with 130kW rather than 125kW. The 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre TFSI is unchanged from a performance perspective, while other diesels will include at least one 3.0-litre V6. Engine stop-start technology will be standard across the range.
Vehicle type: Luxury car. Timing: Q2
Range-topping A5 follows facelift program for rest of line-up, with the coupe version’s engine bay swapping out a 260kW 4.2-litre V8 for the same 245kW supercharged V6 already found in the S4 and S5 Cabriolet. Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes just 4.9 seconds while combined cycle fuel consumption will be as low as 8.1 litres/100km.
Vehicle type: Luxury car. Timing: Q2
Audi’s ‘volume’ battle against the dominant Mercedes-Benz C-Class and notable BMW 3-Series continues in 2012 with a major update. Changes bring sharper touches to the relatively conservative design, including more angular bumpers and an arched bonnet. There’s an upgrade to the cabin in terms of steering wheel designs, upholstery options, trim choices, while the multi-media system has been simplified with fewer buttons yet more functions. Engine efficiency is improved by 11 per cent on average across the range. There’s also new electro-mechancial steering and Audi’s Drive Select system – which offers variable settings for the driver depending on whether they want to drive in a sport or economical way.
If you missed one of the five R8 GT coupes available to Australian buyers in 2011, there’s always another chance with the convertible version. The GT signifies lighter, faster and more powerful performance for Audi’s highly regarded, Lamborghini Gallardo-based supercar. In this form, the R8’s 5.2-litre V10 delivers 412kW of power and 540Nm of torque. Expect the Spyder to be a touch slower than the coupe, but that’s not a huge issue when the fixed-roof GT sprints to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds. With the coupe priced at $470,700, however, you’ll need more than half a million dollars to get into the Audi R8 GT Spyder.
Vehicle type: Small car. Timing: Q2
More practical, five-door version of Audi’s Mini rival, the A1, arrives towards the end of quarter two and mid-year to expand on the success of the three-door hatch. The A1 Sportback is the same length as the 3.95m-long three-door A1 but is 6mm taller and wider to bring slightly more head and shoulder room. Four seats are again standard, though the Sportback is offered with an optional fifth seat that will available in Australia at no extra cost. Expect a mix of petrol and diesel engines and a small premium over the three-door that starts at $29,990.
Off-road-friendlier version of A4 wagon has been out in Europe for two years but gets green light for down-under after introduction of a seven-speed dual-clutch auto for the 125kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel. All-wheel-drive Allroad has 37mm extra ground clearance over regular A4 wagon and features an electronic stability control system specially tuned for variable surfaces. Pricing is anticipated to sit in the $65,000 to $70,000 bracket when the Audi A4 Allroad lands about September.
Wagon variant of Audi’s BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class rival slots in between the A6 sedan and the A7 Sportback. Avant expands the A6’s cargo capacity to 565 litres with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1680 litres when they’re folded down. It’s not yet clear whether the Avant will mirror the sedan line-up, which comprises five models: 150kW 2.8-litre V6, 180kW 3.0-litre turbo diesel and 220kW supercharged V6 models. Expect to add several thousands of extra dollars over the four-door A6, which starts at $77,900.
The rugged version of the A6 Avant is expected to launch around the same time as the wagon and smaller A4 Allroad. The A6 Allroad shares much with the Avant, but is differentiated by its off-road-themed interior and exterior, and the addition of features like adaptive air suspension, which can vary the car’s ride height by 50mm at the press of a button. Although the line-up is not finalised for Australia, the 180kW/580Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel is the model most likely to get the nod. Expect prices to remain slightly north of $100,000.
The last quarter of 2012 brings a triplet of S-badged performance models from the Audi stable, starting with a new flagship model for the A6 range. The S6 produces 309kW of power and 550Nm of torque from a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, putting that down to the ground via an eight-speed auto. It’s enough to clock a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds. Adaptable air suspension tuned for sportier handling is standard as is the Audi Drive Select system that allows the driver to choose preferred settings for the steering response, throttle sensitivity and gearshift points. An optional sports differential that can vary the torque between the rear wheels for improved cornering stability is optional, however. The previous Audi A6 cost $195,900 when it launched in late 2006.
Audi’s four-door ‘coupe’ is based on the A6 and so it’s no surprise the S model gains the same twin-turbo ‘4.0 TFSI’ V8 as the S6. That means 309kW and 550Nm. The extra mass of the Sportback model means acceleration is marginally tardier at 4.9 seconds for the 0-100 sprint, though fuel economy is the same at 9.7 litres per 100km officially.
The flagship model in the Audi range, the A8 limousine, gains a more powerful version of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 found in the S6 and S7 Sportback. The S8 boasts 382kW of power and 650Nm of torque, with the latter produced all the way from 1750 to 5500rpm. Despite a two-tonne kerb weight, the aluminium-constructed S8 will accelerate from 0-100km/h in a rapid 4.2 seconds, according to Audi. Fuel-saving technology such as cylinder-deactivation and engine stop-start ensure the S8’s official fuel economy of 10.2L/100km improves significantly over the 13.2L/100km of the old 5.2-litre V10-powered model. The previous Audi S8 cost $260,000 when it launched in late 2006.
The long-awaited replacement for the Audi A3 is expected to materialize next year in production form after being previewed as a sedan concept at the 2011 Geneva motor show. The new A3 will sit on the VW Group’s all-new modular-style small-car platform that will also underpin the seventh-generation Golf due in 2013. Australia may have to wait until the same year to get into the new A3.