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Audi prepares performance onslaught

Three to tango: Audi will unleash a slew of performance oriented cars in 2013, but the most crucial model will be the all-new A3 in May.

Raft of go-faster models to keep Audi busy during 2013, but A3 most vital

17 Dec 2012

AUDI’S biggest new-model launch in Australia for 2013 will be the A3 Sportback hatch in the middle of the year, but a host of high-octane (and diesel) performers from January will keep the Ingolstadt product planners working flat out.

First off the boat right at the beginning of the year will be the A6 and A7 powered by the variation of the 230kW 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 diesel that will also motivate Australia’s fastest SUV diesel, the SQ5, channelling torque through to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Exhaust sound actuators will make it sound like a V8 petrol, apparently.

Expected to top $155,000 in A7 guise, the bi-turbo TDIs will sit alongside rather than replace the respective $107,500 A6 and $137,750 A7 3.0 TDI quattro models, and will be equipped with a much higher level of standard specification to help justify the big price jump.

Then, in February, comes the long-awaited replacement for the already-legendary RS4.

Now an Avant (wagon) only proposition, the A4 flagship tips the scales at 80kg over its revered predecessor, but adds usefully more power (331kW at 8250rpm) and 430Nm of torque from 4000rpm to 6000rpm, delivered via a S-tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.

 center imageFrom top: Audi S3, RS4 Avant, RS6 Avant, SQ5, R8.

Again, a sports differential can alter the torque split between the front and rear axles.

The result is a zero-to-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds and up to 280km/h.

But the best thing is price. Audi product planner John Roberts said: “If you look at the previous car the Avant was around $170K towards the end.

“But this time we are going with our value drive, so we should see that car at just under $150K.”

April will user in an updated R8, in Coupe and Spyder forms, with the clunky old Lamborghini Gallardo-based R-tronic six-speed sequential clutchless manual giving way to a new seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch item.

Engines remain largely the same – a 316kW/430Nm 4.2-litre V8 and 386kW/530Nm 5.2-litre V10, as well as a new 412kW/540Nm GT V10 Plus edition.

“We’ll run with the good value proposition so R8 S-tronic will get more equipment but we’ll hold the current R-tronic pricing that we have,” Mr Roberts promises.

Not content with bothering Porsche, Audi will steal BMW’s SUV diesel performance crown with May’s SQ5, boasting the 230kW/650Nm 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 TDI diesel from the A6/A7 range.

With a zero to 100km/h sprint-time of just 5.1, it is 0.2s faster than the rival X5 and X6 M50d models, and cost upwards of $50,000 less from about $95,000.

The pace slows down a little later in May with the lighter yet larger, third-generation, A3, based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB that underpins the Mk7 Golf, and available only in five-door Sportback configuration. Engine options for now are a 103kW/250Nm 1.4T turbo TSI with cylinder on-demand, a 132kW/250Nm 1.8T TSI, and 110kW/320Nm 2.0 TDI.

Even October’s S3 will be Sportback only, meaning the demise of the three-door A3 – although with a 5.1 second 0-100km/h dash time and 249km/h top speed in seven-speed S-tronic mode (the six-speed manual is 0.3 seconds slower), the hot-hatch demographic attracted to this 221kW/380Nm 2.0-litre tearaway is unlikely to care too deeply.

“We won’t go with the three-door at all,” Mr Roberts said. “We’ve waited for the Sportback. Australia is a five-door hatchback market.”

Moving on to the second half of 2013, Audi will present the RS5 Cabriolet from July, with much the same hardware as the RS4 Avant, including its 4.2-litre FSI V8.

Aided by the quattro all-wheel drive system that can distribute up to 70 per cent of engine torque to the front wheels or 85 per cent to the rear, with a rear-biased default setting of 60 per cent, the ragtop’s 0-100km/h result is a respectable 4.9 seconds.

But the biggest performance noise from Ingolstadt will be the RS6 Avant, bettering the RS5 Cabriolet’s time by a full second (making it also 0.5 seconds quicker than the BMW M5), capable of 305km/h, and still able to register a 9.8L/100km economy rating.

Under that understated Avant-only bodystyle is a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine with 412kW between 5700 and 6700rpm and 700Nm between 1750 and 5500rpm.

Although this is 14kW less than the previous RS6’s 5.0-litre V10’s outputs, the newcomer will be half a second faster to 100km/h thanks to 50Nm more oomph and a 100kg weight drop. Expect the Audi to mirror the M5’s $230K asking price when it debuts next October.

If you were expecting any sort of petrol or diesel/electric hybrids from the four-ringed firm in 2013, you may be disappointed, although Mr Roberts said the A6 Hybrid will most likely get an airing at the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne in July to gauge potential consumer reaction.

“The A6 Hybrid is still a work in progress. Not confirmed for timing,” he said.

“We’re looking for the right time – possibly for the Melbourne motor show in the middle of the year.

“For us the message with hybrid, the stepping stone to E-tron, is important for us.

“But not so much for volume, the opportunities are really small. It’s more to showcase our technology.”

In October 2011, we reported that Audi would be launching the A6 Hybrid in Australia during 2013, powered by a 155kW/350Nm four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor providing an additional 40kW and 210Nm to feed a combined 188kW and 480Nm to the front wheels.

Drawing current from a rear-mounted 1.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the system provides a 3km zero-emissions driving range at a constant 60km/h and can achieve a maximum electric-only speed of 100km/h.

The A6 hybrid will hit 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, deliver fuel consumption of 6.2L/100km and emit 142 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

2013 Audi launch timetable:
A6/A7 3.0 V6 TDI bi-turboJanuary
RS4 AvantFebruary
R8 PIApril
A3 SportbackMay
RS5 CabrioletJuly
RS6 AvantOctober
A6 Hybrid2014

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