Record smashing sales aren’t enough for Audi, with the German premium maker becoming obsessed with finding yet more market niches.
Sources insist the Ingolstadt marque is deeply investigating at least two new niches, thought to be a more-practical MPV-wagon crossover and a swoopier, sportier, BMW X6-style version of the all-new 2014 Q7 (artist's impression pictured).
While the Q6, as the coupe-styled large SUV is being dubbed, has high-level advocates within Audi management, sources are less convinced about the future of the so-called A4 SuperAvant.
It hasn’t stopped Audi’s product planners from insisting that such a car makes logical sense. It would offer more interior space than the current A4 Avant without the handling or fuel-economy compromises of a Q5-sized SUV.
But for all the logical brilliance of the SuperAvant, the promoters of the C-Max-style machine have run into problems convincing the board that such a car could maintain Audi’s premium image.
Largely, sources say, those problems stem from Audi’s Roadjet concept car from the 2006 Detroit Motor Show, which contained all the same practical benefits.
“The car being promoted as the A4 SuperAvant is more or less a modernized version of the concept car that came before the current A4/A5 shape,” one source suggested.
“It was shown in Detroit and nobody understood it so instead of that we decided the A5 Sportback was better for the brand, and its sales have proven we were right.
“I don’t think we are going to see a concept like that one again,” he said.
That doesn’t stop its adherents from continuing to internally push its merits, as others think a more practical Audi wagon can still be a premium car.
Their plans call for the next-generation A4 to be stretched to include a longer wheelbase and longer overhangs and an entirely new visual language by 2016.
It will connect this with a flexible interior that can be as comfortable as a four-seater as it is as a seven-seater, in much the same way as the Zafira, though the car will be smaller than Opel’s MPV.
Their hope is that the €30,000 car would start a family of similar cars that could stretch up to the A6 and down to the A3.
But while the A4 SuperAvant’s advocates seem to be fighting an uphill battle, the Q6’s team is said to already have the backing of both Chairman Rupert Stadler and engineering boss Michael Dick.
“The next Q7 (in 2014) is very important to us and a sexier version of the standard model is definitely on the books,” another source told us.
“If we do it, we will do it in the next generation of the Q7 on the new MLB architecture (that will also host the next Cayenne and SUV offerings from both Lamborghini and Bentley).
“The size can be varied, because with that architecture, it makes no difference whether it’s Q5- or Q7-sized because it’s the same architecture, but Q7-sized is more likely.”
Besides the Q6 and A4 SuperAvant debate, there are already expectations of a sub-Q3 mini SUV concept car, dubbed the Q2, within the year, while Audi will also show a production-ready A3 sedan in Beijing this month.