From 2002 up to 2003, Audi headed the Audi Brand Group, a subdivision of the Volkswagen Group’s Automotive Division consisting of Audi, Lamborghini and SEAT, that was focused on sporty values, with the marques’ product vehicles and performance being under the higher responsibility of the Audi brand. 2002 marked the true shift into what we recognise as modern Audi.
As a marque Audi introduced new range-filling models to their standard A-series of cars. The A5 (including later the S5 and RS5) was the first to grace our roads, launched in March 2007. Based on the A4, the A5 is a series of compact executive coupe cars placed for directed competition with BMW’s 3-series and Mercedes-Benz’s C-class coupes. Next came the A7 (later S7 & RS7), launched July 2010. Based on the A6 , the A7 is a five-door liftback featuring a sloping roofline with a steeply raked rear window and integrated boot lid, and four frameless doors. It was also launched to fill a void between the A6 and A8 and is somewhat of a competitor to BMW’s 6-series & 5-series GT, as well as the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Also launched in November of 2010 was the A1, Audi’s offering to the world of the supermini, and launched as a more premium competitor.
Since 2005, beginning with the Q7, Audi has also launched a range of SUVs from sub-compact crossovers to luxury SUVs in the form of the Q2 (2016), Q3 (2011), Q5 (2008), Q7 (2005) & Q8 (2018). 2018 also saw the launch of the Audi e-tron – a fully-electric mid-size luxury crossover SUV, which was unveiled as a concept car at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. It is the company’s first electric mass production car, and was first delivered in May 2018. It has an EPA range of 328 km (204 miles).
The Audi R8, launched 2006, is a mid-engine, 2-seater sports car, which uses Audi’s trademark quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. The R8 is based on the Lamborghini Gallardo (Type 42) and presently the Huracán platform (Type 4S, 2015). The fundamental construction of the R8 is based on the Audi Spaceframe, and uses an aluminium monocoque which is built using space frame principles. The R8 was also the first production car with full-LED headlamps. More on the R8 tomorrow though!
The Ingolstadt plant, opened by Auto Union in 1964, now produces the smaller range of A3, A4, A5 and Q5. The Neckarsulm plant is now used to produce the larger Audi models A6, A7 and A8. The Neckarsulm factory is also home of the “quattro GmbH” (from November 2016 “Audi Sport GmbH”), a subsidiary responsible for development and production of Audi high-performance models: the R8 and the RS model range. Other models are produced elsewhere in Europe and also outside of Europe for other markets.