The Audi Sport ‘sub brand’ has arrived in Australia, which will serve as a global pilot market for the program alongside the UK.
The Audi Sport moniker has been set up to more clearly delineate Audi’s hardcore sports car (RS models and the R8) and racing activities from the rest of the brand — in essence, it’s the new forward-facing name for its quattro GmbH subsidiary (Audi’s version of AMG or BMW M).
What does it all mean? For one, by year’s end 15 dealerships within Audi Australia’s network will have invested in creating dedicated Audi Sport sections, offering standalone areas dedicated to all things Audi Sport.
It means that, while you’ll still be able to buy your Audi RS model at any Audi site, the company has a smaller crack team of total experts (based at metro dealers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) that can give you better advice. They might also urge you grab a T-shirt while you’re at it.
This means a sales team with expert training on Audi’s RS products and the R8 — each has to have a number of RS cars in stock and on display — and an array of accessories and merchandise. It’s a proper branding exercise designed to make people think about ‘Audi’ and ‘sports car’ in the same sentence.
Audi’s lesser S and S-line models do not fall under the Audi Sport moniker, as only the RS models are deemed to be sufficiently re-engineered for the purpose. You have to draw a line somewhere.
The Ingolstadt marque wants more people to immediately associate its brand with its sporting credentials, be it the range of hardcore quattro road cars it sells, its peerless recent enduro racing record (Le Mans being the most prominent example) or even its old Group B rally success.
Australia is seen as an ideal pilot market because of the success of Audi’s RS and R8 models here. As with most rivals brands, Audi sells a disproportionate number of its highest-end offerings Down Under compared to Europe and beyond.
This is is the case for Audi’s rivals such as Mercedes-Benz Australia, which sells more AMGs as a proportion of total brand sales here than anywhere else globally. Likewise, Volkswagen Golf GTI sales and Renault Sport sales are vastly higher per capita here than almost anywhere else. Many more examples of this buyer behaviour exist.
Locally, sales of Audi’s S, RS and R8 range (we’re bundling S models here, though it isn’t part of Audi Sport) have grown 118 per cent in 2015 alone.
Australia is already a global top 10 market for the RS range, and is positioning to leap into the top five as early as 2016 on the back of the all-new RS3 Sportback — local details announced yesterday and published here — that will double RS sales here.
“Australia has just been announced as one of the global pilot markets of the Audi Sport brand,” said Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle.
“The ‘brand-within-a-brand’ concept is an effective way of bringing together all of the exciting elements of our motorsport heritage and the performance characteristics of our brand under the new name of Audi Sport.
“Our motorsport program, along with our high-end RS and R8 performance models, are a clear reflection of what Audi Sport means to our company. It’s about heritage, success, emotion and top performance –these are the aspects of the Audi Sport brand that we want to highlight to consumers.
“The timing is ideal. We are preparing to launch the first-ever RS3 Sportback in Australia later this year, and of course the all-new R8 in 2016. As a result, we’re confident of a stronger start than ever to 2016, doubling our Audi Sport sales volume by the end of next year.”
Incidentally, we were lucky enough to meet an Audi legend this week as part of the brand’s promotional activities around Audi Sport — five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Emanuele Pirro, who still plays a role with the company.
“When I joined Audi as a factory driver around 20 years ago, I could never have imagined how successful the partnership would be. I enjoyed every single day I spent as an Audi Sport factory driver, and I am missing those days a lot now since retirement!," he said.
“I am proud to remain part of the brand to share my experiences with Audi on the track. I feel like I’m part of a much bigger project with a real benefit to Audi drivers who benefit from racing technology in their road cars.
“The Audi Sport brand has evolved into something very exciting, with a rich history of motorsport success and a diverse range of emotional sports cars.”
Would you say 'Audi Sport' in the same breath as 'Mercedes-AMG' or 'BMW M'? You should.
Audi Sport range Australian pricing (plus on-road costs):