Lots of news from the German car manufacturer Audi this week, with the promise of some impressive new releases come the end of the year. Let’s kick off with a look at the newly released Audi A3 1.6 TDI Ultra SE. Taking over from the similarly named Audi A3 1.6 TDI SE, the new Ultra model boasts a combined fuel economy of 83.1mpg, with a top recorded speed of 124mph and for the environmentally conscious amongst you, CO2 emissions have been cut to an all time low of 89g/km. Additional features include: low-rolling resistance tyres, sports suspension, a panoramic glass sunroof and the option of a towbar. Interestingly, in another bid to be more economical, there is now no longer a space-saver spare wheel; instead drivers are provided with a tyre inflation kit.
In more news, Audi chairman, Rupert Stadler has made the announcement that he expects 40-45% of all Audis to be SUVs in the next five years. This somewhat bold statement is in reaction to growing customer interest and the rise in popularity of the practical yet stylish sport utility vehicle (SUV). He predicts there will a massive explosion in SUV sales and in a bid to include Audi within these sales figures he says they “are working hard on our SUV strategy. In five to ten years, 40-45% possibly even 50%, of our sales will be SUVS. I prefer to react to what the customer wants and they’re asking for SUVs”. Audi currently manufacture a range of SUVs – the Q7, Q5 and Q3 – and this line up will be joined by the Q1 next year and the Q8 in 2017. In fact it is estimated that the whole model portfolio will increase by a further 10 cars by 2020. Audi have been keeping a close eye on their competitors, namely Mercedes and BMW, to see what they are doing with their coupé SUVs and are also exploring whether smaller SUV models could be made.
The company are also keen to promote the prospect of car sharing and are looking into programmes that allow groups of people to take advantage of spectacular leasing deals on cars they may otherwise be unable to afford. Stadler also predicts a growth within the field of battery electric vehicles and even autonomous vehicles, in a similar vein to the Google car, stating, “People’s mobility needs will change a lot. Lots of people are talking about the car industry 4.0, but I prefer to focus on people 4.0 and what they want”. He is, however, also very keen to point out that no matter what Audi do “We will do everything to keep our cars the sexiest around”.
Later this year, Audi are also set to release the new Audi A4, which is hoped to stand in fierce competition with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and the new Jaguar XE. Inspired by the new Audi crossover concept, the new A4 will include a host of new technology including a large colour, digital screen. The so-called ‘virtual cockpit’ will display speeds, rev counter, trip computer, sat-nav information and stereo settings. It will also feature individually controlled air vents so that both front and rear passengers can control their own air conditioning settings. Add to that the latest generation MMI infotainment system, complete with touchpad and voice command controls, high quality plastics and sophisticated metal trims and you have an altogether smarter, more comfortable driver, and indeed passenger, experience. Set to be unveiled to the public in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show and to go on sale later in 2015, the A4 will initially only be available as a saloon, however it won’t be long after and Audi are looking at releasing an A4 Avant estate, a four wheel drive Audi A4 Allroad, the high performance Audi RS4 and eventually the new Audi A5 coupe range.