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Future models - Audi - Q7

Allroads lead to Audi SUV attack

Peak at future: The Q7 scheduled for release in Australia next year is expected to look similar to the Pikes Peak show car unveiled in 2003.

Audi plans to see its Allroad wagon thrive in a stable of purpose-built 4WDs

7 Feb 2005

IN two years, a three-pronged four-wheel drive wagon attack will begin for Audi Australia, forming a crucial element in its quest to achieve 10,000 annual sales before the end of the decade.

In addition to its much anticipated and long overdue Q7 large 4WD wagon, last month’s surprise Allroad Mark II concept at the Detroit motor show points to the German brand’s determination to explore various niches in the SUV department, even ones it has not yet fully succeeded in.

Due around mid-2006, the as-yet-unconfirmed – but now widely expected – production Allroad should continue as Audi’s sportier crossover vehicle, rivalling the Volvo XC70 and acting as standard-bearer for new technology like advanced air suspension, a lane-straying warning system and a long-awaited V8 turbo-diesel.

Producing 210kW of power and 650Nm of torque while exceeding strict EU4 emissions guidelines, the 4.0-litre common tail TDI V8 with efficiency enhancing ‘piezo’ injectors will also find its way into the Q7, which shares some common elements with the Porsche Cayenne/Volkswagen Touareg.

Expected to look similar to the Pikes Peak show car unveiled in 2003, Q7 is scheduled for release in Australia late in 2006 and, as Volvo has found with its XC90, is hoped to boost rather than cannibalise sales of its lower-slung, station wagon-based 4WD.

In addition to the height, the main difference between the pair will be a third row of seats in the Q7, which effectively makes it a larger and longer family-orientated vehicle. It is believed the more focused off-road elements of the Touareg – such as the low-range transfer case – will be eschewed in the Q7 for on-road comfort and sportiness.

Speculation is rife that three-height air suspension will be offered, along with a 3.6-litre V6, 4.2-litre V8 and possibly a 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine.

Diesels book-ending the V8 TDI include a 3.0 V6 and a 6.0 V12 from the A8 range.

The third Audi in the works is the Q5, a BMW X3-sized vehicle that will be based on the next generation B8 A4 platform.

Due in 2007, the five-seater compact wagon should follow its bigger brother in shunning mechanical diff locks and low-range gearing, instead using Audi’s traditional Torsen differential quattro all-wheel drivetrain.

Petrol engines are expected to be 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder and 3.2 V6 FSI units, while 2.7 and 3.0 V6 TDI motors will join the A3’s 2.0 TDI on the diesel front, all mated to either six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearboxes.

It is believed a variation of Audi’s air-suspension will be optional in lieu of steel springs.

7 center imageLEFT: The A3 Sportback

In the meantime, Audi will gain some extra sales traction with its A3 Sportback released this month and the B7 A4 facelift due in March, the latter with extensive re-engineering and virtually all-new sheetmetal – although only Audi’s trademark single-frame grille gives it away at a glance. Together, both should represent about 60 per cent of Audi’s total volume of sales for 2005, which is set at 4500.

The all-new A6 Avant arrives in the third quarter of 2005, along with the S4 Cabriolet featuring a 253kW/410Nm 4.2-litre V8 driving all four wheels.

Next year will kick off with the Mark II TT sports car.

Again spun off the Volkswagen Golf (nee Audi A3) platform, it promises far-improved dynamic abilities underneath the all-new but stylistically very evolutionary skin.

In addition to the next wave of 4WD wagons, the all-new A4 due in 2007 will be all-important for Audi and is expected to be the first of the truly driver-focused Audi passenger cars.

Although retaining the company’s front-wheel drive and quattro configurations, the next A4 will pursue improved weight balance and greater pedestrian impact protection.

To this end, the engine should move further back, as will the quattro’s drive bias, while the steering will be honed for better feel and feedback.

Also on the sporty front, Audi’s lackadaisical response to the BMW 3 Series coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLK will be addressed by the A5, another BA A4 offshoot.

Available in two-door coupe and convertible form, and high on Audi Australia’s wish list for Australia in about 2008, the four-seater A5 will open new sales avenues for the brand.

The company’s sports-focused ‘S’ badge is also rumoured to be extending throughout its passenger car range.

WHAT’S COMING

March 2005 – Facelifted A4
August 2005 – All-new A6 Avant
September 2005 – S4 Cabriolet
October 2006 – TT MkII
Mid 2006 – Allroad MkII
Late 2006 – Q7
Mid 2007 – All-new A4
Late 2007 – Q5
2008 – A5 Coupe and Convertible
2009 – A8 MkIII

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