Audi hints at plans to launch a new crossover SUV to rival the BMW X6, set to be called Q6

Audi has kicked off development of a new performance orientated crossover model to counter the BMW X6.

Set to be called the Q6, the five-seat crossover is rumoured to be based around the same four-wheel drive underpinnings as the second-generation Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, both of which use a short wheelbase (2895mm) version of the Volkswagen Group’s so-called Colorado platform that in long-wheelbase (3000mm) form is also used beneath the Audi Q7.

Nothing has been made official, but in an interview with German media representatives at the recent Geneva auto show, Audi boss Rupert Stadler, alluded to the new German crossover, saying, “We can imagine a model between the Q5 and the Q7... a coupé-like, four-wheel driven model.”

Read Autocar's first drive of the BMW X6M

Audi’s decision to add the Q6 to its line-up comes after lobbying calls from its North American and Chinese subsidiaries for a standard-sized SUV to counter the BMW X6, global sales of which have more than doubled original estimates since its launch in 2008.

As with its key rival, the Q6 is likely to arrive in the US with a range of V6 and V8 petrol and diesel engines, together with a V6 gasoline engine-electric motor hybrid drive option similar to that used by the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne Hybrids.

The decision to provide the new model with what Stadler describes as “coupé-like” styling and standard “four-wheel drive” also paves the way for an outwardly sporting variant from Audi quattro, the same division responsible for the company’s diverse range of RS models. While still early days, Audi is thought to be considering a range-topping Q6 RS model powered by the new turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine, set to make its debut in the new-generation RS6 at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Despite doubts about the sales potential at launch in 2008, the BMW X6 has proven a remarkable success. The latest figures provided by BMW reveal overall sales of 110,622 – some 43,322 of which were recorded in 2010, including 3082 X6Ms.Greg Kable

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