Michael Berchtold, project manager for the Audi RS3 Sportback quattro, thought he was simply going to be discussing the potential of an RS3 sedan at the launch of the German brand's new high-performance hatchback when CarAdvice also hit him with the question of whether the RS portfolio would extend further into Audi's SUV model lines.
“Firstly, we want to sell more cars obviously, so we are always looking in other areas to expand our range,” Berchtold explained. “So in that sense, the idea of an RS3 sedan is something worth considering.”
Berchtold went on to suggest that markets like the United States, China and even Australia have an affection for sedans making the business case for an RS3 sedan variant one that Audi is looking at. The brand has showcased a concept model - the A3 Clubsport - that is almost certainly a precursor to a production car.
Audi Australia spokesman Shaun Cleary suggested “Audi Australia would be very interested in such a vehicle if it became available”.
With the subject moving to performance SUVs, Berchtold responded to questions about expanding the RS portfolio within the performance SUV range - including reports of an imminent RS Q7.
“That’s an interesting question,” he said. “It is true that we have had success with the RS Q3, but it’s a vehicle we had mixed feelings about from the outset. It is an SUV, not a sports car in the traditional sense, so we weren’t sure whether it would work in delivering the feeling required for an RS model.”
Berchtold went on to explain that while the RS Q3 isn’t necessarily a high horsepower car or a super fast small SUV, it drives and feels very much like a sports car, so Audi achieved its aims with the vehicle given it needed to meet certain criteria to wear an RS badge.
“It would make sense then to produce an RS Q5 or RS Q7 for sure, but I can’t give you a hard answer,” he said. “It would definitely make sense globally though.”
Berchtold also told CarAdvice that despite the success of the SQ5 - the twin-turbo diesel sporty SUV which is the highest selling Q5 variant in Australia - he thought it was unlikely there would be an RS diesel Audi in Australia or anywhere else.
“The main problem with a diesel engine for us is the sound and the feeling, the emotion,” he said. “An RS Audi has to deliver emotion and that feeling that is important to us and the driver. We don’t think there is enough global interest for us to build an RS diesel.”