Audi Sport may not be as much of a household name as Mercedes-AMG or BMW M, but the company’s recently-appointed head wants that to change, and fast.
Stefan Winkelmann, the man who used to head up Lamborghini and who is now employed as managing director of Audi Sport (formerly Quattro GmbH), said at the 2017 Geneva motor show that the Audi Sport brand needs to make itself better known among potential customers.
“Audi Sport is a great brand: it’s very focused, so we are having a lot to do. We have a lot of cars in the pipeline: we will launch eight new models by the end of the year 2018,” he said.
We may also expect all-new versions of the RS4, RS6 Avant, RS7 Sportback as well as – potentially – the first ever RS5 Sportback, new RS Q3 and the first-ever RS Q8, as presaged by the Audi Q8 sport concept unveiled at the Swiss show.
Clearly having a lot of new models will help expose more people to the brand, but Winkelmann says the company needs to do more than that in terms of presence.
“We will work a lot on the strategy for the brand – now we did a lot for the cars, the product: the next step is to do much more for the brand,” he said.
“We did it last year: Quattro, in our opinion, after 25 years was not really saying that much to the people, and Audi Sport is a headline to everything that is under the umbrella of sportiness inside Audi.”
Audi Australia was one of the pilot destinations for the Audi Sport sub-brand along with the UK, with the red rhombus present in a number of showrooms around the country as a separate sales platform. There are currently 16 Audi Sport locations around Australia and more around the world, and that could be the first step towards standalone dealers, though CarAdvice understands that isn’t on the cards just yet.
“We want to become a global player,” Winkelmann said. “We want to have a pride, a proper presence around the world and for sure we have to establish the brand as a real brand, and it should be known to everyone.
“We say that our cars are athletes in a tailor-made suit, so we don’t to be too big, we don’t want to be too pumped up – this is, I think, crucial for the future of these cars. They have to look good, and they have to be fast, but it has to be a perfect combination,” he said.
Audi Australia product communications manager Shaun Cleary said that there’s a huge demand locally for hotter Audi models.
“Clearly, Australia is a very strong performance market and we’ll be keen to look very seriously at any new Audi Sport models,” Cleary said.