Just like you, we always want to know what's coming next from Detroit, Tokyo, Stuttgart, Munich, Los Angeles, and all the other places where automotive engineers and designers dream and scheme on our behalf. Car companies, of course, are loath to share information on new products lest their competitors try to copy them--or you decide not to buy the cars they already have on dealer lots. Car companies, though, are simply groups of people, and some of them have a hard time keeping secrets. So, we poke, we prod, we cajole, and we uncover information that becomes the basis for our annual Sneak Preview issue. As always, some of our information is educated guesswork based on hints, insinuations, hunches. Make no mistake, though, these cars are on their way, even though details may change. Ladies and gentlemen: our list of 136 cars coming over the next few years...
2012 Audi A7
The star of the 2009 Detroit auto show was the Audi Sportback concept you see pictured here. The A7, as it will be called in production form, is a deceptively large car-it's about as big as the full-size A8 sedan upon which it's based. It looks like a swoopy sedan, but its hatchback rump swallows an impressive amount of luggage.
We expect the A7 to hit the market as a 2012 model, one year after the next-generation A8. It's said that the A7 is the baby of design genius Walter de'Silva, and it was apparently the last project he worked on before he left to clean up Volkswagen's frumpy designs. Like all his latest Audis (R8, TT, and A5 in particular), the A7 will look even better on the street than it does on the show stand. And for that alone, the A7 is worth the wait.
2010 Audi TT-RS
The 265-hp Audi TTS has barely made it into second gear (it's just starting to roll into U.S. dealerships as we write this) and already it's been upstaged. The TT-RS made its debut at the Geneva motor show, and although Audi hasn't officially made the decision to bring it here, insiders tell us that we'll likely get it. In order not to crowd the TT's corner of the showroom with too many models, two other cars have to die: the front-wheel-drive 2.0T and the 3.2 Quattro will be axed for 2010. That leaves the TT lineup far less complex: the 200-hp TT Quattro (manual or S tronic), the 265-hp TTS (S tronic only), and the 340-hp TT-RS. The RS will be available exclusively with a six-speed manual and should hit 60 mph in four and a half seconds. It looks aggressive, all right, but it's the sound track that will really get it noticed. If you haven't heard an angry German turbocharged five-cylinder in a while, it's because Audi hasn't made one in decades. We're expecting the TT-RS to be a very expensive (near-$70,000) alternative to a Porsche Boxster S, but we're betting that it'll finally give the TT some of the passion it's been missing.
2010 Audi Q3
Small is the new big.
Small is the new big.
Audi has begun to direct its product emphasis toward smaller, more affordable models. In the Q range, Audi's next move is the Volkswagen Tiguan-based Q3, which will look much like the 2007 Cross Coupé concept (pictured). The length is some ten inches less than a Q5, and the wheelbase is more than half a foot shorter. If the Q3 comes to the U.S.-the final decision has not been made-we'll likely have a choice of 200-hp gasoline or 140-hp, turbo-diesel 2.0-liter four-cylinders. Quattro is an option, and it'll come with the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. Other features include hill descent control, LED taillights, variable damping with ride height adjustment, an oversize glass sunroof, and an off-road styling package.
THERE'S MORE DOWNSIZING TO COME: Audi's next Q model is the Q1, which is based on the tiny VW Polo. Don't expect to see that one here-there is such a thing as too small.
2010-2012 Audi R8
Audi is apparently following the Porsche 911 strategy: many variants of one wondrous theme. The original R8 will soon be outranked by a 525-hp V-10 model. Shortly thereafter, we'll see a rear-wheel-drive version of the V-8 (called the R8 GT3), perhaps with a bit more than the current 420 hp. And then the R8 pops its top. The R8 convertible will have a soft top, like its Lamborghini cousin. In these trying economic times, isn't it nice to know that you can get Lamborghini performance at Audi prices?
2009 Audi S4 sedan
With the new S4, we lose the Avant and the lusty V-8 that powered last year's car. But the news isn't all bad, as Audi claims that the new S4 sedan is half a second quicker to 60 mph. In place of the V-8 is a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that Audi confusingly calls the 3.0T. But the blown six delivers a lag-free boatload of torque. More good news is that the optional six-speed automatic is replaced by a seven-speed dual-clutch unit. Even better, the optional sport differential uses active torque vectoring to help rotate the S4, masking the understeer that's inherent in a design where the engine is located completely ahead of the front-axle centerline.
2010 Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet
The 2010 Audi A5 and S5 cabriolets retain a traditional soft top rather than taking the now-trendy retractable-hard-top route. The A5 can be had in front-wheel drive (2.0-liter turbo four with a CVT) or Quattro all-wheel drive (2.0T or 3.2-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic) form. The S5 uses Audi's new 3.0T-a 333-hp, supercharged V-6-and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, Quattro, and an optional torque-vectoring rear diff. A5 coupes adopt the same powertrains for 2010. With 4500 pounds to move, the S5 cabriolet is not a sports car, but its drop-dead gorgeous looks and solid structure make a great boulevard cruiser. The S5 goes on sale this fall, with the A5 trailing by a few months.
2010 Audi A4 Allroad You'd think America would be an obvious market for an A4 wagon with a lift kit and truckish styling cues. But Audi is worried that two A4 wagons is too many, so if the Allroad comes here, we'll lose the A4 Avant. Sounds like a bad deal to us.
2010 Audi A3 TDI The A3 bolsters its green credibility by adding the VW Jetta's 140-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-diesel this fall.
2011 Audi A8 We expect to see an all-new A8 at this fall's Frankfurt auto show, but the new A8 won't land here until next year.
2009 Audi Q7 TDI This summer Audi adds a diesel version of its slow-selling Q7 SUV. The 3.0-liter V-6 packs 225 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, enough to send the heavy Q7 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and still deliver 17/25 mpg.
2011 Audi Q5 Hybrid Audi has long touted diesels over hybrids, but the company is bowing to U.S. market pressure and putting its first hybrid system in the Q5 for 2011.