Audi continues to pull out all the stops to achieve its goal of becoming the world's leading premium carmaker by 2015. Pending additions to the range include the aluminum-bodied A2, the subcompact Q1 and coupe-like Q6, the mid-engined R5, and now, a brand-new flagship model likely to be called the A9.
Ten years ago, Audi showed the A8 Avantissimo concept, which was meant to become a mega-Avant for the rich. Although that proposal was shot down, a more coupe-like A8 Avant was nearly given the go in 2004. After that, Audi toyed with the idea of making the A7 its new halo car, complete with a four-door convertible version. As we all know, the actual production A7 has a much less ambitious mission as a slightly more upscale companion to the A6.
Never taking "No" for an answer, brand chief Rupert Stadler is about to embark on yet another variation of the SuperAudi theme. This time, Stadler and R&D chief Michael Dick are zeroing in on a full-size two-door flagship that will in all likelihood be based on the current A8. Known internally as A9, the high-end four-seater gets a unique exterior and an evolution of the benchmark-setting A8 interior. To be built in Neckarsulm alongside the A8 and the R8, the A9 could appear as early as 2014 in coupe form. A soft-top version should hit the market in 2015, six months before the Mercedes-Benz CL cabriolet. The A9 will be positioned above the BMW 6-series but below the CL.
The provisional engine lineup includes naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions of Audi's 3.0-liter V-6 (that's right, turbocharged, not supercharged as in the S4), as well as a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8. That V-8 will put out some 420 hp but is clearly capable of more -- expect a 520-hp S9. No Audi is complete without diesels (including in the United States, where the brand is planning another big oil-burner push). The A9 will offer the familiar 3.0 V-6 TDI and a 4.2-liter V-8 TDI. Quattro is standard, as is an eight-speed automatic.