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Audi A6 closes in on German rivals

Executive decision: The A6 still trails the Mercedes-Benz E-Class for sales, but Audi's local boss says it could catch it eventually.

Improved Audi A6 large car range has leadership in its sights

13 Mar 2015

AUDI’S revised A6 has the best chance yet to reel in the long-term best-selling Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series in the premium large car segment, according to the car-maker's local bossPointing to a 25 per cent increase in sales last year, against a volume reversal of a similar magnitude for the 5 Series and only a modest sales rise of eight per cent for the E-Class, Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said he is confident that the facelift will spark new interest in the company’s larger models.

Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the Series II A6 and its A7 Sportback sibling in Melbourne last week, he revealed that the proliferation of high-performance models combined with continuing success in motorsport, such as the record LeMans victories over the last few years, is finally having an impact on the larger models.

However, Mr Doyle declined to comment on to when he believes the A6 will be at the head of its sales segment.

“The short answer is yes (we will be number one in the class), but the longer answer is when,” he said. “We are very strong throughout Europe in the segment, but I do believe we are still a young brand in this country… it will happen the more we prove ourselves in the higher D-segment with the A6, A7 Sportback and A8.

“Our motorsport commitment with our R and RS models really lifts the brand.

With all due respect to our brand, we were an A3 and A4 company in the years gone by, but now we’re much more able to sell our higher-end vehicles given our motorsport heritage.”

Mr Doyle added that his company is now seeing a direct correlation between winning in competition and buyers desiring higher-performance halo models such as the RS6 Avant.

“It is lifting the brand overall,” he said. “And that is much more attractive to our higher-end customers when they see what we can produce at this level.

When they see that an A6 or A7 can get to be an RS6 or an RS7, or an R8.

“It shows what is possible, and it makes the brand that much more aspirational to the target market.”

While the A6 remained in fourth place behind the Germans and the Jaguar XF with 12.9 per cent of the market, its sales of 617 units represented a 25.2 per cent jump over 2013 levels – and that was the biggest in the entire segment.

While recording only modest volume of 119 units last year, the A7 Sportback enjoyed similar growth levels as the A6 with a 24 per cent lift over the 2013 results.

The Benz E-Class aside, every other vehicle in the over-$70,000 large-car class went backwards last year, reflecting an overall slide of 8.2 per cent for the segment.

The Lexus GS was down 48.4 per cent with 255 sales, Mercedes' CLS-Class dropped 17.3 per cent to 377 units and – worryingly for Nissan – the Infiniti M/Q70 sedan nearly halved its market by finding just 26 buyers.

The current C7-series A6 is the seventh-generation Audi in this segment, with the original 100 debuting in 1968.

The model never really registered with Australian buyers until the boxy C2 of 1976 landed as the 5E 10 years later, while the name change to A6 during the latter years of the fourth-generation C4 series’ run in 1994 ushered in the company’s modern-era nomenclature.

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