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Audi to accelerate RS models

Good sport: Audi’s range or S, RS and R performance variants make up 15 per cent of its sales so far this year.

Sales soar as Audi commits to bringing in S and RS performance models earlier


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10 Dec 2014

AUDI will launch hardcore RS versions of its staple models earlier in the lifecycle as sales of the performance-honed variants boom in Australia, according to the company’s local boss.

The luxury car-maker is celebrating 20 years of its race-bred RS – German for RennSport, meaning racing sport – models this year, with an increasing number of Australians stumping up the extra dollars for the extra performance.

So far this year, Audi Australia has sold 2677 RS, S or R8-badged models, representing a 188 per cent increase over the same period in 2013 when it had moved 930.

Audi said its S/RS/R models have made 15 per cent of its sales this year, up from six per cent in the same 11 months of 2013.

In contrast, BMW has sold 1011 M-branded vehicles in the 11 months to the end of November, while Australians have snapped up 2540 Mercedes-Benz AMG models in that period.

BMW does not yet have an equivalent to the milder S variants that sit below the RS, but next year, Mercedes will debut the AMG Sport range that will fit into its line-up between its regular models and the brutal AMG range.

The arrival of the AMG Sport line later in 2015 following its debut in January at the Detroit motor show will almost certainly boost Benz’s performance car sales.

Speaking with GoAuto at an RS media drive event in New South Wales this week, Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said the strong sales have been helped by the proliferation of RS/S/R models in recent years, compared with the skinny line-up just a few years ago.

“I think it can go certainly higher,” he said. “It is great for us to talk about those numbers but let’s be honest, we didn’t have as many RS models before. I’m just happy that we are getting to a level now of being competitive.

Clearly our competitors also do quite well in that area.”

Mr Doyle said the company was focused on building its brand in Australia with halo models such as the RS range, rather than just increasing overall volume.

“It’s not so much about us saying ‘more and more and more’. It’s very important to have a strong mix of RS, more importantly because it becomes a much more aspirational brand and I am a believer that that is a very strong way to build a brand in a sustainable way, that people then really want to aspire to an RS or an R8.

“And they can buy any other Audi in the meantime as they aspire to that.”

While Mr Doyle did not divulge targets for performance models in the coming years, he confirmed S and RS variants would be made available “earlier in the lifecycle of a model”.

“I think we can go further north, the question is how far,” he said. “I couldn’t really answer exactly where we are going to go. It will progress strongly again next year as we continue with more models.

“We traditionally used to offer them later in the lifecycle. Now it will be offered earlier in the lifecycle. So when you see a new model coming out, you will see some S and RS models much quicker.”

For example, Audi’s fire-breathing RS4 Avant launched in Australia in February 2013, just shy of five years after the B8-series A4 on which it is based arrived in local showrooms.

While Audi will engage with local motorsport through its involvement in the Bathurst 12 Hour race in February next year, Mr Doyle stopped short of saying the German car-maker would enter the Gen2 Supercar series that comes into effect in 2017, allowing a more diverse range of body-styles and engines.

“The short answer is no. The long answer is, we all love motorsport so we would always look at it.

“We have great success in motorsport. We also have a lot of other activities that we can concentrate on … through our drive experience, up to a racecar experience or just to go and experience the Audi brand across the world so there is quite a lot to choose from.”

Audi’s first RS model was the 1992 RS2 Avant based on the Audi 80, but not made available in Australia.

The first RS in Australia was the RS4 Avant from 2000. Now the range consists of the most affordable and highest-selling RS-badged model – the RSQ3 crossover from $81,900, plus on-roads, RS4 and RS6 Avant, RS5, RS7, and the soon to be replaced TT RS, while the flagship of Audi’s Sport range is the R8 supercar.

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