Audis major SUV onslaught plans revealed
The two biggest markets for luxury cars - US and China - seem to be giving up saloons for SUVs. The SUV segment in China grew 20 per cent last year compared to the eight per cent growth shown by the sector as a whole. It was a similar story in the US. But, it's not just China and the US who are favouring SUVs; Russia and India are toeing the same line. No surprises then that almost every car maker has a slew of new SUVs planned for the near future. It's no different at the luxury end of the market.
BMW is expanding its SUV lineup in India to six with the recently unveiled X4 set to join the likes of the X 1, X3, X5 and X6, in less than a year's time. The company will also launch the sportier X2 in the country, but a launch date for it is yet to be finalised.
The biggest SUV offensive, though, will come from Audi. The company currently has three SUVs - the Q3, Q5 and Q7. But going forward, it plans to expand this to seven. Taking a leaf out of BMW's book, Audi too will do sportier, coupe versions of its existing SUVs. So, the Q3 will have the Q4, the Q6 will sit above the Q5 and the Q7 will spawn the Q8. Also, the Q4 and the Q6 will be based on the MQB platform; Volkswagen's modular platform for small to medium sized cars.
The Q8, meanwhile, will use the MLB platform. This MLB platform meant for large cars with longitudinally mounted engines with both front and four wheel drive, will also underpin the Bentley SUV. The Q8 will sit above the Q7 and will take on the likes of the new Range Rover. The Q8 though is only expected sometime in 2016, after Audi introduces its new Q7 next year which again will be based on the MLB platform.
The money spinner for Audi though will be the Q2. It will be the smallest SUV in the company's range when it makes its international debut in 2015. The Q2 will also sit on the MQB platform and will be positioned below the Q3 but above the A3 sedan in terms of price. The Q2 will be powered by the same engines we get on the Q3, a petrol and a diesel, both with 2-litre engine capacity. We might also see the 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine from the Jetta under the Q2's hood, but not at launch.
The design of the Q2 will be heavily influenced by the Crosslane concept Audi showcased at Paris in 2012 as our rendering shows. It will carry the same three dimensional grille, along with slender headlights and large air inlets in the bumpers as seen on the concept. The proportions, the stance as well as the pronounced design lines of the concept will make it to the Q2, nonetheless.
Michael Perschke, head Audi India, has already made it clear that going forward, new products from the company will help retain its leadership in India. The first of the new products will be the A3 sedan, but given the sales success Audi has had with its SUVs against its saloons, it's logical to conclude that the Q2 will be the real star in Audi India's growth.
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