Audi Australia Puts BMW and Mercedes On Notice For Top Dog Status Photo:
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2014 Audi S3 Sedan - Overseas Photo:
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2013 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet - Overseas Photo:
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Tim O'Brien | Apr, 24 2013 | 7 Comments

In the battle for the wallets of Australian motorists, there is a whole lot of biting and scratching going on away from the main field of contest.

Take the prestige brands segment; it’s not huge, but it’s growing and there are no holds barred there. Audi, for instance, is sitting a tee’d-off third behind BMW and Mercedes in the Australian market.

So is it happy? Well, no. Not at all.

Because it’s the number one premium brand in Europe. In 2012, it ended the year in sixth place there with 705,739 sales, well ahead of BMW and Mercedes (Source: Jato Dynamics).

In fact, Audi and Mercedes were the only brands in the Euro market to record growth in 2012 over 2011. All the rest went backwards, by quite a lot.

Audi is also number one premium brand in China. Last year it sold 405,838 vehicles there, an increase of 29.6 percent.

But here in Australia, after years of strong growth, in a market that grew by 10.3 percent, Audi managed 14,535 sales in 2012 and just 0.2 percent growth over its 14,511 sales in 2011.

That had Audi settling for a bruised third here behind arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes. And that hurt.

But is that good for car buyers in the prestige segment? Well, yes, because there is a veritable flood of new Audi models coming this way.

And riding the crest is some very exciting ‘halo’ machinery designed to pull buyers into showrooms.

The hot SQ5 diesel is on its way.
The hot SQ5 diesel is on its way.

Like the stove-hot SQ5 TDI, to be released next week (watch for our review).

It will be followed in pretty quick succession by the A3 Sportback (at a very tasty $35,600 entry price), then we’ll see the RS 5 Cabriolet in August, the RS 6 Avant in October and the S3 hotbox in December (to be priced in the $65k-$70k region).

But that’s not all. Next year the RS Q3 will be hitting these shores. It will be nestling the 2.5 litre TFSI five-cylinder turbo from the TT RS under the bonnet and a promise of a 5.5 second 0-100km/h sprint. And it’s an SUV?

We’ll also see a new S8, RS 7 Sportback and S3 sedan.

The latter promises to be a very exciting prospect – Jetta sized but with a stormer under the bonnet.

The new S3 Sedan is due in the coming year.
The new S3 Sedan is due in the coming year.

According to new Audi Australia boss, Andrew Doyle, “There will be six RS models available in Australia by mid-2014.” Now that’s something to look forward to.

Mr Doyle, after two years as head of Audi in Ireland (which saw an annual car market collapse from 200,000 annual sales, to just 70,000 sales), clearly won’t be deterred by a challenge.

“Our goal in the near to medium future is to be number one premium brand in Australia,” he said.

He’s got some ground to cover. BMW, with 18,413 sales last year, has a 4000 sales lead on Audi, and Mercedes, with 22,397 sales in 2012, has nearly an 8000 sales lead.

For this year, he’s forecasting over 15,000 Australian market sales for Audi. For a company that sold 1,455,100 cars last year, that would seem to be not an outlandish projection.

Tim O'Brien
TMR Managing Editor

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