Audi: SuperAvant on the drawing board

File Photo / NZ Herald
File Photo / NZ Herald

Audi's sales of 1.3 million units last year were up 19 per cent as it marches towards its goal of 1.5 million sales by 2015, helped by a $13 billon investment over the next five years.

Included in its product plans is another niche, an A4-based MPV crossover, along the lines of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class that has just gone on sale in New Zealand.

Reports in Europe says Audi is closely investigating a vehicle offering more space than the A4 Avant, while avoiding the handling and fuel efficiency compromises of a Q5-sized SUV.

It has been dubbed "SuperAvant", after Audi's wagon range, and has a raised roof that allows more headroom. Inside, it's set to be extremely flexible, with a wide variety of seating options similar to some people-movers.

The car will be powered by a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, including some hybrids. Audi's apparent aim is that the SuperAvant will be the first of a family of similar cars that could stretch up to the A6 and down to theA3.

However, internal backers of the MPV plan are rumoured to be having a tough time convincing Audi's board that such a car could maintain the brand's upmarket image. Audi's Roadjet concept car, that was seen at the 2006 Detroit Motor Show,
offered the same practical benefits that the SuperAvant proposes, but the Audi board instead decided to back development of the A5 Sportback.

Other plans on the drawing board include a stretched A4 Avant with a longer wheelbase, and the crossover Q6, which is already said to have the backing of Audi chairman Rupert Stadler and engineering boss Michael Dick.

A sexy version of the next Q7 (expected in New Zealand in 2015) will use the VW Group's MLB platform, which will underpin the the next Porsche Cayenne and upcoming SUVs from Lamborghini and Bentley.

- NZ Herald

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