Audi was born out of the foundation of Auto Union back in 1932 and the modern era Audi breathed life in the1960’s when Auto Union was acquired by Volkswagen from Daimler-Benz. The name Audi is the latin translation of the founder August Horch, horch meaning listen in German and Audi in Latin.
Since then Audi has become one of the finest car makers in the world and with a fair few icons along the way, such as the Audi Quattro world-beating rally car, the R8 V10 and the awesome RS6 Avant that was my Platinum Car of the Year in 2015. Their commitment to four-wheel drive across the range continues unabated and has left many other manufacturers scrabbling to catch up.
To gauge how the company is faring in 2017, l joined them for a Range Driving Day at Walton Hall, a 16th century mansion in Warwickshire that was once owned by Danny La Rue of all people, after being used as a code breaking centre aligned to Bletchley Park during the war.
The weather was perfect, the scenery was glorious and there was the entire Audi range arrayed before me on the sweeping driveway of the house. It does not get much better than this.
This was also the first test shoot day for the new Platinum YouTube channel and l had to be on my best behaviour. My tendency is always to head towards anything with an R in front of it and as l turned to survey the scene of gleaming metal, the cameraman came up to me swinging the keys to a shiny new R8 V10 Plus Spyder that he thought l might like to drive first. He was right.
Then the new A5 Cabriolet, then the S3, then the Q7, then the R8 V10 hard top – l tell you, this reviewing lark is a lot tougher than it seems. After lunch and with the camera still rolling, we dialled it down a tad with the A1, A4 and then they asked me to try the new TT RS Roadster. Well, rarely am l short for words but good god, this is a revelation. Quite how they extract such speed out of a 2.5-litre engine defies all common sense. 62mph arrives in 3.7 very frantic seconds and the grip is eye-watering whilst the cornering G-Force tends to rip your face off.
Over a very nice lunch, l sat with the crew and asked them their layman’s view of Audi. To a man, they were hugely positive about the range, their reputation and the cred of having the badge. Perhaps in the distant past Audi might of played third fiddle to the corporate badge cred of Mercedes and BMW but no more. The cameraman also moaned a tad about trying to film in the passenger seat of the TT at 110 on a tight corner but l couldn’t hear him, and cared little, as l smiled like a man possessed and wiped the gnats off my teeth!
Audi have done a sterling job with just about every model and managed to plug the gap in every sector. Sales are strong with 14,344 models sold in 1991 against 177,304 models sold in 2016 giving them a 6.4% UK market share (BMW 6.3%, Mercedes 5.52%) with the A3 being the 8th best selling car. Their 2015 revenue was €58.42 billion. So much so that Audi’s rising market share is getting dangerously close to Volkswagen’s and a brand is not meant to outsell its volume parent. What a very pleasant problem to have.
The entire range could be called handsome with not a lemon in sight and a few absolute stunners in there. Buyers will select based on their personal preferences and pocket of course but it has to be said that the vehicle they would receive will be technologically advanced, impressively built, great to drive and one the safest vehicles out there with tremendous residual value.
It all starts with the A1 at £16,965.00 up to the R8 Spyder at £132,020.00 and everything in between. Audi have one of the most comprehensive and competent ranges of any manufacturer in production today and not to miss a technological beat, their range of e-tron electric or hybrid engines are charging into production. Along with other manufacturers, they have a joint plan underway to build a high-power charging network across Europe. The future looks bright.
Vorsprung durch Technik