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Audi A5/S5 Creating a Halo


 

 

The Big Apple is getting its first look at Audi’s new coupe. At an invitation-only gathering for dealers, executives – and a few media scribes – the automaker pulled the wraps off an apple red version of the S5 performance coupe Tuesday night. Both the S5 and A5 cap the long career of Audi chief designer Walter De’Silva, who declared the new model, “the most beautiful car I’ve ever designed.”

First seen at the Geneva Motor Show, in March, the long-awaited two-door will become Audi’s first coupe sold in theU.S. in 11 years. Together, the automaker expects the two models to provide, “a halo, a real image boost” for the brand, suggested Johan de Nysschen, head of Audi operations in the U.S.

 

Audi’s image has already been gaining ground, if recent sales numbers are any indication – with the maker reporting six consecutive monthly, year-over-year records. But Audi of America still lags its primary luxury-segment rivals, and de Nysschen acknowledged that it will take still more product to close the gap.

 

“The absence of an SUV held us back,” he said, noting that strong demand for the new Q7 has been a major factor in Audi’s recent sales growth. Volume should grow even more, said the executive, with the planned launch of the smaller Q5, “and perhaps a third SUV,” about which de Nysschen declined to provide more details.

 

Audi is looking to fill in a variety of niches, echoing the model proliferation of key competitors, such as Mercedes-Benz. Among the other vehicles under development is a coupe-like sedan that will be based on the A6 platform, but slotted in-between the A6 and flagship A8 models.

 

There’s a lot riding on the upcoming remake of the A4, which Audi expects to become an even bigger seller in the U.S. And the next-generation A3, currently Audi’s smallest U.S. model, should benefit from fast-growing demand for small cars. Which, of course, begs the question: might Audi bring an A2 or smaller model to the U.S. ?

 

While such products will see “dramatic growth,” de Nysschen quickly cautions that, “I don’t think we’ll see a sub-A3 in the U.S. , not for Audi,” at least not right now, anyway. Why? Because the automaker is “not as strongly entrenched in the U.S. ” as are other European marques, like Mercedes, which has more stretch to its brand image. So, at least in the minicar segment, the executive says Audi will need to wait and let other luxury automakers blaze the path.

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