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Audi Sport sales on track for record 2018 haul

Lethal RS-enal: With a smorgasbord of Audi Sport models on offer, including the R8, RS5 and TT RS, Audi’s Driving Experience program lets participants enjoy high-performance vehicles in a racetrack setting.

Driving Experience program drawing in more Audi Sport customers

27 Sep 2018

AUDI Australia is set for a record-breaking year of Audi Sport sales, with the company projected to finish 2018 with just under 1500 units as its year-to-date haul hits about 950 to the end of August on the back of its Driving Experience events.
 
The unique drive days – rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche also host similar events – allows owners, prospective buyers, dealers and any paying participant to experience Audi’s models, including high-performance RS grades, in a high-speed racetrack setting.
 
Halfway through a two-week event at Adelaide’s The Bend Motorsport Park – Australia’s newest track facility and the second-largest in the world behind the famous Nurburgring in Germany – Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary said the program allows drivers to appreciate the brand’s highest-performing models in a new light.
 
“The most important thing for people to appreciate about the cars is getting to drive them (in a controlled, racetrack setting),” he said.
 
“We’re all pretty lucky in that we (media) get to go to a racetrack a few times a year and meet drivers like Tom Kristensen (nine-time Le Mans winning and former Audi Sport driver) all the time, but if you are a customer – or a potential customer – and you haven’t had that chance, and you get the chance to drive the car that you’ve been looking at, at a great new facility like that (The Bend), meet someone who you’ve been watching on TV … what an experience.
 
“And it’s a really great chance to immerse someone in the brand, and if you have been a long-time customer, to keep that connection and maintain that interaction and engagement.”
 
Audi’s Driving Experiences are also held at Victoria’s Sandown Raceway, Sydney Motorsport Park and Phillip Island, as well as ice-driving events in Austria and Sweden, and cover varying levels of vehicles from standard A, Q and S models all the way up to an R8 LMS racecar.
 
Prices start at $500 for women’s half-day events, but can climb up to $6800 for a day in the R8 LMS, while the Audi Sport experience is $1500 and covers RS and R8 production models.
 
Audi Australia has been running its Driving Experience program for 12 years, the first six of which were exclusively for dealers and staff to familiarise themselves with the brand’s models in a track setting.
 
However, now it is open to the public, the company says 250 Audi Sport sales have come directly from the Driving Experience events, with more than 8500 customers attending since 2012.
 
Dedicated drivers can even expand to programs that include one-on-one track-day coaching and analysis of telematics to better improve their driving skills.
 
The program, and Australia’s performance-hungry appetite, have resulted in a large uptake of local Audi Sport sales that account for about 7.3 per cent of Audi’s 13,043 year-to-date overall total.
 
Mr Cleary said Australia remains one of the largest markets in the world for Audi Sport take up.
 
“We are regularly in the top five of global markets for Audi Sport, whereas overall volume, we’re more like eleventh,” he said.
 
“We’ve already sold over 950 cars this year, which is really strong and a record for us for Audi Sport sales.
 
“Clearly its driven by a lot of new products in terms of RS5, RS4, but it’s a really strong part of the model lifecyle that will increase – there’s not a lot that we’ve said, but there’s definitely new (Audi Sport) models coming.”
 
The refreshed Audi Sport onslaught started in June 2016 with the launch of the second-generation V10-powered R8, while last year also saw the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder TTRS, RS3 sedan and RS3 Sportback hit showrooms in May, June and November respectively.
 
The RS5 Coupe also hit the market last year in December, while the mechanically related RS4 Avant launched in May this year ahead of the RS5 Sportback that will land in early 2019.
 
The R8 was also expanded this year in March with a new entry-level rear-drive RWS grade, while Audi’s facelifted mid-engine supercar has been spied testing internationally and is expected to break cover before year’s end.
 
Although Mr Cleary would not confirm if more Audi Sport models were on the way, he hinted that the new-generation A6 and A7 models are likely to follow their predecessors and receive the RS treatment. 
 
“We know that there’s a new-generation A6 and A7, and while there’s been no announcement yet on the successors to the ones that we know of, clearly they were very successful in their own right, especially in Australia, so we’d be really hopeful to see those cars,” he said.
 
However, despite the strong local Audi Sport model uptake, Mr Cleary said there were no plans to expand the sports brand’s dealer footprint.
 
“There’s no plans at this stage, we’ve had our 18 Audi Sport dealers for the past couple of years since we really invested in relaunching the Audi Sport brand and we’re happy with the coverage that we’ve got at the moment,” he said.

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