Audi brings new Q2 to Ireland as emission scandal cutbacks loom

Next-generation Audis to drop unique platforms and use more Volkswagen parts

 

Audi’s status as an almost totally separate arm within the VW Group looks set to change with major spending cutbacks in the wake of “Dieselgate”. According to German magazine Der Spiegel, Audi’s bosses, including chief executive Rupert Stadler, are embarking on a major round of cost cutting which will see unique models dropped and more close co-operation with VW and its other brands in terms of new model development.

It seems that among the cutbacks, expected to be signed into being at a board meeting in early December, are a new wind tunnel and an enormous technology campus which was earmarked to have its own motorway junction. The biggest casualty could be front-wheel drive for larger Audi models, though.

Platform changes

Currently, the A4, A5, A6 and A7 are all based on what’s called the MLB platform, the basic form of which dates back to the late 1970s. It is this platform, with its engine slung way ahead of the front wheel centres, which has dominated Audi’s design strategy for the past three decades and which has given the cars their unique, but often criticised, front-heavy driving feel.

It now seems that MLB is doomed, and that the next A4 and A5 will instead switch to the more cost-effective MQB platform, which means that they will be more closely related to the VW Passat and Skoda Superb.

The A6 and A7, along with the larger A8 which currently uses an almost bespoke aluminium spaceframe chassis, will switch to the MSB platform, which has been developed for use by Porsche (for the new Panamera) and Bentley (for the next-generation of Continental GT and Flying Spur).

The consequences of that move will be profound, as the MSB setup precludes front-wheel drive, which means that the next A6 and A7 could well be offered as rear-drive models in basic form.

It will also mean the death of the original Quattro four-wheel drive system in the form that we know it. Most Quattro models will most likely shift to using a modified version of the Haldex-designed system already used in the A3.

R8 supercar’s wings are clipped

Also on the cutback list is the R8 supercar. Already, the R8’s model line-up has been trimmed, with the quiet phasing out of the semi-experimental all-electric e-Tron model, the production of which was stopped last week.

If there is to be a third-generation R8, it will have to platform share with the next-generation Porsche 911.

Further undermining the next R8’s case is the likely demise of Audi’s Le Mans and World Endurance Championship team, which looks set to close its hugely successful doors at the end of the 2017 season.

VW reckons it can’t justify the cost of having Audi and Porsche competing with each other at the front of the endurance racing grid, and besides, the team’s success has been built on diesel power, which is now infra dig.

In the meantime, Audi is getting on with the job of introducing new models, and a significant one of such is the new Q2 compact crossover, which goes on sale in Ireland this week.

For the moment, only prices for the diesel models have been announced, which kick off with the 1.6-litre 110hp SE model at €32,490 while an S-line version costs €35,790.

There will also be 2.0-litre TDI as well as 1.0-litre TFSI and 1.4-litre TFSI petrol models, the prices for which will be announced “in the coming weeks” according to Audi Ireland.

SE trim includes cruise control, smartphone interfacing and rear-parking sensors while S-Line trim includes LED headlights, sport suspension, sport seats, drive select and an 18-inch five-spoke Y-design alloy steering wheel.

Henning Dohrn, Audi Ireland managing director, said: “An all-new Audi for Irish customers, the Audi Q2 is an exciting combination of coupé sportiness and compact SUV functionality.

“The compact SUV segment is growing in Ireland and we are confident the Audi Q2 will attract new customers to the Audi brand. It demonstrates the brand’s passion for exploring new ways of designing and building premium cars for every driver.”