Audi Challenges 3-Series Coupe With The New A5

Audi is taking the fight to arch-rival BMW with the launch of its new A5 and S5 four-seater coupes. The cars are pitched squarely against BMW’s 3-series coupe - and its M3 performance derivative - as Audi continues its bid to become the number one luxury car maker in the world.

Audi’s strategy involves broadening its range into every imaginable niche - A5 is the third new coupe to be launched in the past 6 months, following the all-new TT and R8 models. Audi’s UK dealers have already taken more than 1,000 orders for the £77,000 R8, which is pitched against another German performance icon, the Porsche 911.

When A5 and S5 go on sale in July, only the upper-range models will be available: 3.2-litre V6 FSI petrol with 265PS featuring new valve-lift technology; 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrol with 354PS, revised 2.7 TDI with 190PS, revised 3.0 TDI with 240PS.

Pricing will range from £30,175 OTR for the A5 2.7 TDI to £40,025 OTR for the S5 quattro. Smaller-engined models, including the base 1.8 version, will follow in 2008. An ultra-high performance RS 5 is also under development - and this could have a version of Audi’s V10 engine.

The A5’s design was inspired by the Nuvolari concept study shown at Geneva four years ago. It is the first model to be built on the new A4 platform – the new A4 will follow at Frankfurt in September and could reach UK showrooms by the end of the year. The third model to be built on the A4 platform will be the Q5 SUV, expected to make its debut at Geneva in 12 months’ time.

Run-out of the old A4 is likely to prevent Audi UK sales from hitting 100,000 this year - though they are expected to be up on 2006’s 87,000 sales. Indeed, Audi can’t make enough right-hand drive cars to satisfy UK demand, said Audi spokesman Jon Zammett. “We have an order bank of 26,000 cars, and a six-month waiting list for the TT,” he said.

Ten years ago, Audi had six models in its range. Now it has 25. One of the final pieces of the jigsaw is the A1 small car, which is scheduled for a 2009 debut, finally offering a serious rival to BMW’s MINI. The design has yet to be signed off, but Audi has confirmed the car will be built in Brussels. It’s expected to resemble the Shooting Brake concept of two years ago.

Published 6 March 2007 Melanie Carter

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