Ingolstadt marque launching seven fresh or all-new models inside 12 months
Audi Australia is set to roll out seven important new offerings in the next year or so, as it seeks to bounce back from a few years of declining sales.
Between now and the third quarter of 2019 it’ll launch two new SUVs — one a new generation and another just plain new — a new-generation range-opening city car, two new-generation large passenger cars and its first full electric vehicle, the e-tron quattro crossover.
At the luxury end of the market, sales are contingent on having the newest and freshest offerings, to both entice return custom and tempt new-to-brand buyers. That’s why this large-scale rollout is vital for the company.
The marque enjoyed years of strong growth here, getting it close to BMW as the market’s number two luxury brand. But both those brands have both gone backwards since the start of 2017 as the premium market has both cooled and fragmented.
So, what’s coming? Audi invited us along to an event last week talking about its Audi Sport customer racing program, and we took the chance to ask 'em.
Audi A7 - November 2018
The 50TDI quattro has a diesel V6 with 210kW/600Nm, and a 48V onboard electric system powering a starter-generator and a coasting mode. Braking can recuperate 12kW of energy.
The 55TFSI quattro’s 3.0-litre V6 petrol makes 250kW and 500Nm, put to the road through quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Standard semi-autonomous safety kit includes a head-up display, adaptive cruise control with stop&go, a 360-degree camera, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist.
Inside, MMI Navigation with 'touch response' – the lower touchscreen for climate control – is standard, along with the Virtual Cockpit instrument binnacle. Audi's 3D sound system, developed by Bang & Olufsen, is also standard.
Audi Q8 - December/January
The first Audi Q8 expands the company's SUV range. It's a sleeker, five-seat spinoff of the family focused Q7 range-topper, designed to tackle the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe. It's certainly better looking right?
The Q8 rides on the Volkswagen Group's MLB Evo platform for front- and all-wheel drive cars with longitudinal engines. This component set is also used by the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touareg.
It measures in at 4986mm long (66mm shorter than the Q7) and 1995mm wide (27mm wider). It sits on a 2994mm long wheelbase. There are two diesel engines and one petrol offering – all six-cylinder – from launch.
Housed within the grille are a number of sensors the car uses for advanced semi-autonomous functions. These include lasers, radars and even a night-vision camera. The laser also features a system that blasts its cover with a high-pressure burst of water when the sensor becomes dirty.
Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit screen. Then, two additional screens are fitted for infotainment and climate controls. The top screen is a 10.1-inch unit, while the bottom screen measures in at 8.6 inches. Both screens feature haptic feedback.
MORE: 2018 Audi Q8 review
RS5 Sportback - February
The Audi Sport range in Australia is expanding from February next year, with the addition of a new RS5 Sportback derivative.
This longer-wheelbase model joins its coupe sibling atop the A5 range, adding an extra pair of doors and a wagon-esque boot. In some ways it’s a slicker but almost-as-practical take on the RS4 Avant, right?
The familiar 2.9-litre TFSI twin-turbo (each blower mounted between the 'vee') V6 engine produces the same 331kW peak power as the other RS applications, with peak torque of 600Nm available between 1900 and 5000rpm. The 0-100km/h time matches the two-door coupe’s 3.9 seconds.
Power flows through an eight-speed tiptronic torque-converter auto and a quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, which distributes torque asymmetrically, 40:60, to the front and rear axles respectively. A sport differential transfers torque to the rear wheel with most traction.
Five-link suspension is used on the front and rear axle. There’s also Dynamic Ride Control, meaning active dampers, giving it a lower stance. Audi also offers carbon-ceramic brakes and dynamic variable-ratio steering with RS-specific tuning.
Audi A6 - quarter one, 2019
Audi says the new A6 is "agile as a sports car, as manoeuvrable as a compact model." Rear-wheel steering is available, reducing the turning circle by up to 1.1 metres by turning in opposition to the front wheels.
The rears turn in the same direction as the fronts at higher speed for a more planted, stable feeling.
The Euro-market launch petrol powertrain is a turbocharged V6 making 250kW and 500Nm, good for a 5.1-second sprint to 100km/h. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, putting outputs to the road through a quattro AWD system. The 3.0-litre diesel option delivers 210kW/620Nm, hooked up to an eight-speed automatic and quattro.
Both engines are paired with a 48V mild hybrid system, powering the familiar belt-alternator starter, The car can coast between 55 and 160km/h, and stop/start kicks in at 22km/h. According to Audi, the system can save up to 0.7L/100km in real-world driving.
Like the A8 before it, the new A6 is loaded to the gills with semi-autonomous driver assistance technology. The car will autonomously pull into or out of parking spaces and garages, while top-spec cars are equipped with five radars, five cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner. All these sensors are managed by Audi's zFAS central controller.
The wagon? Not sure if that's coming yet. Maybe just the eventual Allroad derivative. The A7 has a huge boot, at least...
Audi A1 - quarter two, 2019
The A1 has grown 56mm longer than the outgoing model (4.03m), with a 65L more accommodating boot than before.
As before, it's the entry model for the brand alongside the Q2, aimed at a younger (but obviously rather affluent) buyer set, who the company hopes to lock in for life.
All versions of the new A1 Sportback will be fitted with the company's 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument binnacle, complemented by a multifunction steering wheel.
A central MMI Navigation Plus display measuring 10.1 inches is available, offering features like satellite map views and new 3D city models. The new display also offers touch inputs and voice recognition, and supports Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Qi wireless charging is also available, as is a 560W 11-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Engine choices overseas vary between the base 1.0-litre turbo with 70kW, and the top-spec 2.0-litre four-cylinder putting out 147kW. If you haven't already guessed, both engines feature in the Volkswagen Polo range, with the latter borrowed from the GTI hot hatch.
Audi Q3 - mid-2019
The Audi Q3 has become a touch frumpy in recent times. This one looks like a shrunken Q5, which is a meaningful improvement. It's 97mm longer, 25mm wider, and 5mm lower than the model it replaces. The 2680mm wheelbase, meanwhile, is a 77mm increase on the outgoing car.
Audi claims gains have been made in knee room, head room and elbow room, and a huge increase has been made in the luggage compartment. At 530-675L (depending on rear seat configuration), the new Q3 has 70L more boot space than its predecessor.
As standard, the Q3 is equipped with a 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital driver's display, which can be swapped out for a larger 12.3-inch unit with increased functions as an option.
There's a handful of MMI infotainment variants too, ranging from 8.8 to 10.1-inches in size (diagonal). Depending on specification, the MMI system incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice control, online services, and in-built navigation with real-time traffic updates.
Power comes from a range of four-cylinder turbocharged engines, three petrol and one diesel, at launch. Power outputs range from 110kW to 169kW, with front- and all-wheel drive available depending on variant.
Audi e-tron quattro - late 2019
Audi has promised 12 electric vehicles by 2025. This crossover rival to the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC is the starting point. It sports an electric all-wheel drive (AWD) system promising a new take on the quattro philosophy, with the motor driving the front wheels kicking in on-call.
The e-tron is about 150mm shorter than a Q7 but promises room for five and has an impressive 660L of cargo space. The system makes a strong 300kW of power and 660Nm of near-instant torque, and promises more than 400km of range taking the harsher new WLTP test cycle into account.
It can be charged at a rate of up to 150kW, offering 80 per cent range in 30 minutes. It can also be charged at 2.3kW through a 230V household outlet, or at 11kW using a three-phase 400V outlet, cutting the charging time to just over 8 hours.
Inside, the driver is faced with several displays, including the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster with EV-specific content, and a dual-touchscreen centre console design (10.1-inch top, 8.6-inch bottom) that digitises the climate controls. Vehicles optioned with 'virtual exterior mirrors' feature additional displays in the front doors, displaying a live camera feed in place of conventional wing mirrors.
Audi will build the e-tron quattro at its CO2-neutral manufacturing facility in Brussels, with a European market launch scheduled for the end of 2018, and pricing to start around €80,000 (~$130,000).
MORE: Everything Audi