Audi: Four Ring Circus

Audi A8 L Armored

Audi’s been improving its product portfolio at a shockingly fast pace in the past couple of model years.  From the all-new A8 to the snarling R8 supercar, every car out of their design studio looks handsome and has driving dynamics to match.  However, where there is an ointment, there are always some flies to pick.  

2012 Audi RS3. Should be on sale next year.

First and foremost, let me make myself clear that I have, for years, held a certain vested interest in the company’s lineup.  When I first saw their newer models as an 11-year old in a local dealer, I kept pining for my dad to lease one.  Since then, their envelope has exploded with some seriously cool stuff.  The new A7 and A8, for example, look sleek and futuristic, but somehow classical at the same time.  The R8 gives me a thrill in my brain whenever I see one, and the new RS models on the way have the right stuff (on paper).

But, all isn’t well.  For one thing, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz have announced an expanding of their already-popular diesel offerings, Audi has stayed remarkably quiet, only continuing to offer the TDI variants of the Q7 and A3.  While these are decent vehicles for the money, Audi could stand to easily expand the TDI name in the American market, via competing with the BMW 335d (the A4) and the Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec (via the A6).  With the combination of quattro, Audi would be the only game in town for a diesel-powered AWD sedan in each market.  Because BMW and Mercedes don’t offer this combination, Audi could steal sales from them in areas like the Northeast and New England, where winters cause problems for those with RWD.  Offer it with a six-speed manual, and buyers will flock to them faster than bugs to a bug lamp.

Audi R8 GT

Audi could also use some help with their gasoline engine offerings, especially in the A4.  Nick suggested in a recent conversation that offering an A4 ‘S-Line’ edition with the Golf R’s engine and suspension tuning would give Audi a better footing in the smaller engine compact car market.  As it stands, the A4, on paper, is inferior to its rivals on engine output, and therefore power-to-weight ratios as well–this would fix the problem in a hurry, and VW wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money on engineering to finish the job.

-Al

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