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Audi Gaining Ground With Model Range Expansion

By raccars Published

There have been rumblings afoot regarding Audi's plans to enlarge its range and the Shanghai industry event was an ideal opportunity for the company to tell us more.

First up is the brand's R4 Le Mans concept sports car, an idea previewed in 2008 in Geneva that, so far, hasn't really gone anywhere. While Audi has stopped short of confirming production, development has progressed to discussion on platforms and engine options, plus design theory. The brand's technical chief, Wolfgang Durheimer, has conceded there is room within its range for a road-going race car but finding a globally satisfactory powertrain is proving problematic.

It seems Audi also feels there's room in its line up for a smaller, Porsche Boxster rivalling compact sports car. Progressing from theory to development to production is a long road but a concept based upon a centre-mounted engine, with focus upon weight distribution and handling, is in the offing. At the moment, Audi, not given to losing money, is pondering the difficulties of making the car affordable for the amount of technology and development required to differentiate the new car from its stalwart TT.

At the other end of the market, new SUVs are the stated priority. Serious work is being done on a Q8 badged luxury vehicle, to sit above the Audi Q7 and act as a flagship model. The brand is keen to push this concept even further, extending it to its umbrella company, Lamborghini, with Durheimer extolling the virtues of the same for his previous brand, Bentley. Model overlap seems not to concern the German giant, which feels there's plenty of room in the SUV market for all the labels under its remit. A compact SUV badged the Q2 is equally imminent, to provide a sporty alternative to the Q3.

At the moment it seems there are no limits to the Audi development team's imagination, with talk of a shooting brake and a unique, stylish MPV. The company continues to forge ahead with hybrid technology, working now on the A3 e-tron, but shrinking from pure electric cars. The proposed R8 e-tron electric project was cancelled last year.

It seems Durheimer's appointment as technical chief has inspired new thought at the company, making it a blank slate for the costly enterprise of product development. However, the company remains conscious of the expenses involved and insists it will work within its means.

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