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Audi has hands up for more sporty variants

Power player: Audi had an order bank of 400 RS3 Sportbacks when the ballistic hatch launched in late-2015.

Popularity of RS3 and others means more Audi Sport models likely


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17 Mar 2016

THE uptake of high-performance Audi Sport variants is on the rise in Australia and the German car-maker is keen to capitalise on their popularity by putting its hand up for any go-fast offering it can get.

Speaking with GoAuto at the launch of the Q7 3.0 TDI 160kW in Queensland, Audi Australia senior product planning executive Matthew Dale said Australian consumers’ enthusiasm for performance-focused models meant that the car-maker would be keen to add any new hotted-up variant to its burgeoning line-up.

“We would certainly love to offer our customers S and RS models in every single product, but I think as we have developed model ranges we are starting to see a lot more S and RS or Audi Sport vehicles within the range,” he said.

“We would certainly put our hand up for any S and RS. Australian customers love performance-oriented cars.” According to Audi Australia senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary, the demand for Audi Sport variants is so high that Australia is in the global top five for volume, which is higher than its standing of 13th globally for overall volume.

“This is a result of Australia’s long-standing appetite for performance models, and also Audi’s growing RS/R8 range,” Mr Cleary said. “Less than a decade ago, quattro GmbH produced only one RS model at any one time.” A number of key Audi models are offered in performance-honed Audi Sport guise, including the A1, A3, A5, A6, A7 as well as the Q3 and Q5, while spicy versions of the new-generation Q7 SUV and A4 mid-sizer on the way.

The latest addition to the Australian line-up, the 270kW/465Nm five-cylinder turbocharged RS3 Sportback rocket, became an instant hit when it rolled in to showrooms in October last year.

“Launch volume was well over 400 orders in order bank. Since then, I would say it is well over that. The previous one wasn’t available in Australia, we had a lot of customers who were waiting with baited breath to jump on board and purchase an RS3,” Mr Dale said.

In terms of volume, Audi sells an average of 450 A3s every month so to have an order bank of 400 $78,900 (plus on-road costs) RS3s is significant. The sales were so high for RS3 that they were in the top five sales for the model anywhere in the world.

Despite only being on sale for the last three months of the year, the RS3 Sportback beat the full-year tally of the RS Q3 by one, “which obviously speaks volumes about the growth potential,” according to Mr Cleary.

Mr Dale said Audi Australia experienced similarly high demand for the slightly more sedate S3 Sportback and sedan as well as the diesel-powered SQ5 hi-po SUV when they launched.

“With S3 we had quite a strong order bank and it was up to about 50 per cent of overall offerings (of A3),” he said.

“If you take Q5 as a whole model range, SQ5 was number one in the mix (when it launched). Very similar to S3. S3 was number one in the A3 range. It shows how popular those types of performance products are with Australian customers.” And there are more on the way.

The R8 supercar is heading Down Under in the coming months, a 445kW/700Nm S8 Plus super-sedan touches down imminently, the S4 sedan and Avant are here in the final quarter of the year and the brutal 900Nm SQ7 diesel powerhouse hits the road about the same time.

Beyond that, expect the new-generation RS4 in both sedan and Avant guise as well as a rumoured RS3 sedan.

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