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Audi Q6 looms

Blend lines: A run of Audi SUV coupe concepts hints at the direction of future high-rider styling and the new look is likely to be lead by a new Q6.

No swoopy Q5 but coupes increasingly likely for Audi SUV ranks

1 Dec 2016

AUDI is yet to join arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the potentially lucrative coupe-slash-SUV niche but it is increasingly likely the German car-maker will weigh in with a mid-sized Q6 crossover by 2018.

The company has previously confirmed that its e-tron concept that went live at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show would evolve into a production version before the end of the decade, but its coupe-like styling is set to proliferate the Audi portfolio.

While coupes may trickle into the SUV range, the new models are most likely to take on new nomenclature in the same approach as rival BMW, reserving the existing Q3, Q5 and Q7 brands for the more traditional aesthetics and practicality.

Speaking at the global launch of the new Q5 mid-sized SUV, Audi Q5 product marketing manager Michael Claus said the company’s run of coupe-like SUV concepts was a glimpse into the future of the line-up.

“I think we have already given you hints of various products to come in different sizes and segments and if you say there is a contrast between functionality of the SUV shape and less functionality of a coupe shape, we have already shown the C-BEV concept and there is no compromise,” he said.

“We are looking at different alternatives of how to develop our portfolio ...”

Over the last two years, Audi has rolled out a number of electrified concept vehicles including a pair of electric e-tron Quattro vehicles and a similar h-tron that uses a hydrogen fuel-cell, but all three have shared a distinctly coupe profile.

Mr Claus explained the company had so far avoided the SUV coupe segment to preserve the inherent practical nature of SUVs that has largely driven their popularity globally, but Audi was coming around to the notion.

“You can have a very sporty looking SUV with coupe-like shape and still being very functional,” he said.

Audi AG Q5 total vehicle technical development manager Alexander Riedel repeated Mr Claus’ sentiments and said the Q5 would not be offered in coupe form in the name of function and practicality.

“We think an SUV like the Q5 has to be capable to transport the whole family without the limitations of the space of the car,” he said. “The aim was to have no compromise.”

Mr Claus said that Audi had been watching its rival’s moves with interest but, even without a coupe Q5 in its ranks, it was able to compete with its more traditionally styled high-riders by offering sporty driving attributes and dynamics.

“We have looked at what our competitor does … I think they are really interesting concepts and they clearly have the sporty image in mind and they target customers who look for more dynamic cars.

“Look at our portfolio – we already have two SQ5 models where we have been very successful in the competitive environment so we don’t see a need to change our strategy.

“We have very sporty high-end models that are the equivalent to what you see in the market.”

Until the first coupe SUV arrives from Audi, BMW and Mercedes will continue to own the mid-sized segment with the GLC Coupe and X4, while the pair take care of the large end with the GLE Coupe and X6.

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