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Sportback to open Audi A5 range

Four paw: The Audi A5 Sportback hatchback will be all-quattro in Australia.

Audi model mania continues with A5 Sportback – and many more

Audi logo18 Aug 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

JUST as it does in markets outside Australia, the five-door A5 Sportback will be priced between the A4 four-door sedan and the A5 two-door coupe and cabriolet models in Audi’s mid-sized A4/A5 model family when it arrives here in early 2010.

Priced from under $80,000, which is about what the entry-level A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI manual costs, the all-automatic/all-quattro hatchback version of the A4/A5 is likely to echo the A5 Coupe’s engine line-up.

Apart from the base 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four, that means petrol and diesel V6s mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive in the 3.2 FSI quattro and 3.0 TDI quattro, which should both cost close to $100,000.

So while the segment-busting five-door mid-sizer will be more affordable than the A5 Cabriolet (which starts around $95,000 for the 2.0 TFSI quattro auto), it will be more expensive than the A4 sedan and wagon upon which it is based, with equivalent 2.0 TFSI auto versions of both models costing a respective $73,900 and $76,730.

7 center image From top: Audi S5, Audi A5, Audi R8 V10, Audi TT-RS.

The diesel version of the A5 Sportback, which was revealed as part of Audi’s 100th birthday celebrations on July 16, should become the 22nd Audi model to take advantage of the federal government’s luxury car tax exemption for the first $75,000 of a vehicle that returns average fuel consumption of less than 7.0L/100km.

Audi says it already has more such vehicles than any other luxury brand, with diesel engines available in every model it sells except the R8 super-coupe.

Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann this week fuelled speculation the mid-engined R8, which was last week launched locally with a 5.2-litre Lamborghini-sourced V10 petrol engine in addition to the 4.2-litre V8 available here since October 2007, could play host to a range of new drivetrains, including diesel and even electric power.

While the odds of a diesel-engined R8 appear to have lengthened, European media outlets are buzzing with the prospect of Audi using next month’s Frankfurt motor show to reveal not just one new derivative of the R8 alongside the A5 Sportback, but two.

While it is unclear if the topless R8 Spyder will emerge in Germany with a 309kW/430kW V8 or a 386kW/530Nm V10, Audi has dismissed as speculation reports suggesting it will debut an all-electric iteration of either the R8 or a new take on the 2007 Up! concept series.

However, that was before Mercedes-Benz committed to producing a plug-in version of the gullwinged SLS supercar, which will make its global debut at Frankfurt with a 420kW/650Nm 6.2-litre petrol V8.

“I believe there is plenty of scope (for further drivetrains to appear in the R8),” Mr Hofmann told media at last week’s launch of the R8 5.2 FSI quattro. “With the R8 you can do quite a few things. There is a lot we can do in the future.”

We’ll know in less than a month just how long we will have to wait for an electric supercar from Audi, but officially locked in for Australia within the next six months is the scintillating TT RS, Le Mans-inspired Q7 V12 TDI quattro and A5 Sportback range.

Powered by a new 250kW/450Nm turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine that blasts the slinky TT Coupe to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds (claimed), the wildest TT goes on sale here in October as the first ever RS version.

The TT RS will be the most expensive TT ever sold here, with a circa-$130,000 pricetag that will position it upstream of both the 200kW/350kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol TT-S quattro coupe (95,500) and roadster ($99,500).

At the other end of the Audi model spectrum is the Q7 V12 diesel, which is due here the same month and will debut a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 distillate-fuelled engine based on that of Audi’s oil-burning Le Mans winners.

The first vehicle of its type in the world, it will produce some 368kW and no less than 1000Nm of torque from only 1750rpm – enough to propel the 2500kg Q7 flagship to 100km/h in a claimed 5.5 seconds. Expect a circa-$150,000 pricetag to eclipse both the 4.2-litre V8-driven Q7 4.2 FSI ($122,544) and 4.2 TDI ($127,840).

Rounding out the 10 new (and six additional) model variants to be launched between now and early 2010 in the S5 Cabriolet, which tops the A5 Cabriolet here in November, powered by the same 245kW/440Nm supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 as the S4 and facelifted A6 3.0 TFSI. It hits 100km/h in a claimed 5.6 seconds and should cost more than the 4.2-litre V8-powered S5 Coupe ($138,600).

Further afield, Audi will add yet more additional models and variants in its quest to sell 1.5 million vehicles globally and 15,000 in Australia annually by 2015. Beyond replacement models starting with next year’s redesigned A8 flagship sedan, they include the Q3, A1 and A7.

As we reported last month, Audi Australia plans to increase the number of model variants in its range from less than 30 to about 42 by 2015, by cherry-picking about 38 of the 42 models due to emerge before then.

Due on sale globally by late next year after its expected debut at the Los Angeles motor show in November, the fourth-generation A8 limousine will be followed in early 2011 by the all-new A1 city hatchback, which has been confirmed as a Mini rival for Australia and may spawn a born-again A2 nameplate about three years later.

Debuting at the Detroit motor show in January, the 2011 A7 will be a four-door version of the A6, powered by similar base engines. A new turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 is expected to power the S7, with the RS6’s twin-turbo 426kW 5.0-litre V10 likely to motivate the RS7.

Completing Audi’s additional model gold-rush and ‘Route 15’ brand strategy is the Q3 compact SUV, which should emerge around 2012. The BMW X1 rival is expected to be based on the same platform as the third-generation A3 hatchback and TT Coupe, which are due to emerge in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Finally, RS versions of the A3 hatch and A5 Coupe are expected to mark a renewed onslaught of performance variants from the Ingolstadt maker’s direct rival for BMW’s M division and the Mercedes-AMG skunkworks, Quattro Gmbh, which had previously limited production to one model at a time for philosophical reasons but is now limited by capacity.

Audi has not officially committed to any RS model beyond the TT RS, but the first RS3 is expected to be powered by the hot TT’s turbo-five, while the RS5 could score the RS6’s twin-turbo V10.

“Audi has now reached the point where we don’t need any more halo models,” said Audi Australia general marketing manager, Immo Buschmann.

“Initially it was a philosophy issue (to build just one RS model at a time, like the discontinued RS4 and now the RS6), but now it is a capacity issue. (but) We can now build more than one (RS) model at a time.

“Next is TT RS. What comes next is under discussion,” said Mr Buschmann, who describes Audi as “a very old brand – not some generic brand created to penetrate the luxury market”.

What’s coming from Audi:
A5 Cabriolet August
R8 5.2 FSI Coupe August
TT RS Coupe October
S5 Cabriolet October
Q7 V12 TDI SUV November
A5 Sportback range Q1 2010
A8 sedan Mk4 Second half 2010
A1 hatchback Early 2011
A7 four-door coupe 2011
Q3 2012
A3 Mk3 2013
A2 2014
TT Mk3 2015

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.