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Audi Australia keen to expand RS range

Hot hauler: The Audi RS Q8 could be on its way to Australia, as the brand looks to expand its portfolio of hi-po SUVs.

New high-performance RS models in frame as Audi Sport focuses attention on SUVs

6 Aug 2019

AUDI is keen to expand its range of RS SUVs in Australia as the German prestige car manufacturer looks to enter new market segments with its burgeoning Audi Sport performance division.


Reports overseas indicate that every member of Audi’s SUV portfolio is now in line to receive an RS variant, with Audi Sport managing director Oliver Hoffman making it clear that high-riding wagons, as a global growth segment, is an obvious focus of attention for the high-performance brand.


“We have to stretch our portfolio and the SUV segment is the segment with the most growth,” Mr Hoffman told British publication Autocar.


“There is high demand from our customers for high-performance SUVs. The RS Q8 we will launch this year. There is really, really high demand for this type of car.”


In an interview with GoAuto in Sydney last week, Audi Australia managing director Paul Sansom said the strong local appetite for Audi Sport products meant that the company is keen to bring as many RS models here as possible.


“We base all of our decisions around the consumer, and this market’s got a really healthy appetite for performance cars, we know that,” he said.


“So we’ll be interested in, and always are interested in, anything coming from Ingolstadt around Audi Sport. Whatever is on offer, we’re always first to the table.


“We’ve got a really good track record with Audi Sport and we want to continue to grow that, very much so.


“It’s a great opportunity for us and it really helps service not just those customers looking for performance cars, it has that wonderful halo effect on the rest of the brand as well.”


Currently, the only SUV in the local Audi Sport line-up is the RS Q3 small SUV, which employs the same 294kW/480Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine found in the RS3 and TT RS.


The Q3 is set to be replaced locally in coming months, with the new-generation model revealed in mid-2018. It will also spawn a Q3 Sportback variant, providing a further opportunity for Audi Sport.


According to Mr Hoffman, the next hot SUV to join Audi’s line-up will be the RS Q8, which could arrive in Australia as early as next year to take on the likes of the BMW X6 M and Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe.


No details have yet been released on what form the RS Q8 will take, but rumours suggest the large SUV could borrow its powertrain from Volkswagen Group partner Porsche’s Panamera Turbo S.


The Panamera uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain that teams a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with an electric motor that produces an impressive 500kW of power and 850Nm of torque.


Other models set to be released by Audi Sport include an RS Q5, which would likely feature the same powertrain as the RS4 and RS5, a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 331kW/600Nm.


An RS Q7 is also likely to join a crowded performance large SUV segment inhabited by the likes of the BMW X5 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S, Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.


The RS Q7 could use the same powertrain as the Q8, or if Audi opts to position the Q8 as the performance halo for the brand, could use the petrol V8 only with 404kW/770Nm.


As reported, Audi Australia plans to introduce five new RS models over the next 12 months, which will likely be the RS6 and RS7 passenger models, the RS Q8 and possibly range-toppers for the all-new Q3 and updated Q7.

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