While we’ve known the Audi RS 5, the hotter variant of the A5 coupe, would arrive in the U.S. by 2012, Bloomberg reports that the car is part of a new high-performance model strategy for the brand. With ambitions of raking in more money with its cars, Audi is launching the RS line in the U.S. to fight BMW’s M models for high-profit performance car sales, with the RS 5 specifically taking aim at the M3.
Priced at 78,000 Euros ($111,000), the RS 5 currently competes with the M3 in Europe and other markets. With 450 hp from its 4.2-liter V-8, the all-wheel-drive RS 5 has the M3 beat in the horsepower department. However, pricing is where the real battle will be waged between the two cars, and you can expect the RS 5’s cost to come down a bit when the car hits our shores, especially if Audi’s goal is to double its sales of high-performance cars in the U.S. by 2015.
Audi currently lags behind German competitors BMW and Mercedes-Benz in pricing power, according to Bloomberg. Apart from having higher performance, Audi’s RS variants will bring in more money than their standard model counterparts, which Bloomberg says will help increase appeal for the brand – possibly leading to price hikes across Audi’s entire lineup at some point.
Currently, BMW sees the most profit from its cars, with the highest per-car profit margin of the three major German automakers. The U.S. is the company’s biggest market for M cars, which is why all of BMW’s M division models have found their way here. If Audi hopes to see similar success, importing more performance models would likely be a good place to start.
As sales of Audi’s mid-level performance S4 have more than tripled since the car’s debut in 2009, the RS 5 is a logical candidate for the first volley of souped-up Audis for U.S. consumption. Accounting for 14 percent of all A4 sales, the S4 shows Audi that Americans have considerable interest in performance cars.
“The technical capabilities of the Audi brand are perfectly distilled in the RS models,” Audi U.S. boss Johan de Nysschen told Bloomberg. “For the past few years, American sports car enthusiasts have pleaded with us to make the marque available here.”
The TT RS could be further evidence of that demand, as the decision to bring that car over was partially based on a Facebook petition signed by more than 11,500 fans. The first TT RS model was recently delivered to an American customer, and was the first car in the RS line to be sold in the U.S. since the short-lived RS4. But taking on BMW’s M performance line will require more than just a couple models.
“We’re now taking the first steps with the TT RS and the RS 5,” Audi sales chief Peter Schwarwenbauer said to Bloomberg in an interview. “I could indeed imagine that we’ll continue along that route in the future.”