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Audi Sport mulls product expansion

Heating up: Audi is planning on offering more RS-fettled models, with the Q8 (left) and Q5 (below) SUVs possible candidates for the hi-po treatment.

New high-performance offerings under consideration by Audi Sport division

Audi logo6 Feb 2019

AUDI is considering expanding its range of Audi Sport performance-fettled vehicles to capitalise on Australia’s prodigious desire for sportscars, following a big sales year for the brand.

 

In 2018, Audi Sport – which consists of the R8 supercar and RS models – recorded 1252 sales, a 32 per cent increase over 2017, with the RS3 Sportback hatch and RS4 Avant wagon proving the most popular.

 

This month Audi is launching the RS5 Sportback, which is the first time the brand has offered the five-door A5 in full-fat RS guise.

 

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the RS5 Sportback, Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary said the brand was looking at further expanding the Audi Sport range.

 

“It’s definitely being investigated, and we have seen that for some time,” he said.

 

“We’ve obviously broadened that a lot in the last five to 10 years, and we’re also looking where those best opportunities are in the range.”

 

While Mr Cleary did not disclose exactly what models were being looked at for the Audi Sport treatment, there are some models that stand out in particular.

 

The most likely offering is the Q5 mid-size SUV, which is currently topped by the SQ5 variant that employs a 250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6.

 

With 2086 sales, the Q5 finished as the second-best-selling model range in 2018 behind the A3 hatch and sedan, and an RS Q5 variant would help compete against the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S, which has found local sales success since launching in June last year.

 

An RS Q5 would likely share its powertrain with the RS4 and RS5 family, namely a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 outputting 331kW/600Nm mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive.

 

Another prime candidate for the RS treatment would be the Q7 large SUV, which plays in a segment filled with performance-fettled options such as the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, BMW X5 M, Range Rover Sport SVR, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the Maserati Levante GTS, which is expected to touch down in Australia in the four quarter this year.

 

The top-spec SQ7 employs a meaty 4.0-litre triple-turbo-diesel V8 producing 320kW and 900Nm, however, there is still room for additional performance from the brand’s large SUV.

 

If it became a reality, an RS Q7 would probably borrow its engine from the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback, which are yet to be revealed in current-generation guise following the international debut of the new A6 and A7 last year.

 

It is also possible that the recently released Q8 coupe-SUV could score an RS variant alongside the Q7 to take on the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe and BMW X6 M.

 

In previous-generation guise, the RS6 and RS7 both used a 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 outputting 445kW/700Nm, however, it is not yet known if the new-gen versions will retain the same bent eight.

 

However, a report from British publication Autocar last year claimed that the brand is working on an RS version that uses the plug-in hybrid set-up form the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, which combines for a massive 500kW/850Nm output.

 

While looking to expand the range, Mr Cleary said that an Audi Sport variant across all model lines was not the company’s goal.

 

“The desire isn’t to have an Audi Sport model in every single niche and opportunity, that’s what the head of Audi Sport has said, but obviously where it makes sense (we will consider),” he said.

 

“So, I think we’ve said before that we do see further opportunity, it’s certainly being looked at across the board, but watch this space.”


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