Audi’s growing SUV ranks are set to swell further with the addition of a new Q9 model in the future.
Audi launched the Q8 as its flagship SUV in Shenzhen, China, earlier this month (Autocar has since driven it). At the time, CEO Rupert Stadler refused to rule out the possibility of an even larger and more luxurious model to sit above it if the expected customer demand is there.
“The customers will tell us what they want in the future,” Stadler told Autocar when asked if Audi was planning a Q9. “Time will tell.”
Stadler has since been suspended from Audi's supervisory board, following his arrest as part of the investigation into the diesel emission manipulation scandal. Board member Abraham Schot has assumed the role of acting chairman.
Asked the same question, Audi design boss Marc Lichte said: “We have so many ideas, so many ideas...”
The Q8 will be priced from around £65,000 when it’s launched in the UK this summer, but some versions are likely to top £100,000 when the range expands with higher-tech, sportier and more luxurious versions and buyers spec the cars up as expected.
Stadler confirmed a plug-in hybrid Q8 would join the line-up and said a high-performance RS version was likely. “I think the concept looks good,” he said when asked if Audi Sport will turn its attention to the Q8.
Audi believes there is space to expand on price and positioning and challenge the likes of the Range Rover, which operates largely unchallenged in the £80,000-£120,000 category below the likes of the Bentley Bentayga. It’s here that Audi thinks it can grow and challenge Land Rover.
The marque believes a Q9 could offer something different from Land Rover, being as much about technology as luxury and status.
If it makes production as expected, the Q9 would be a direct rival to the Range Rover as the Q8 is to the Range Rover Sport. While Audi ultimately plans to launch a Q9 to sit atop its SUV range, it currently has no plans to launch an entry-level SUV smaller than the Q2.
Any such a model would be difficult to make profitably. The Q2 is already one of the smaller SUV models on the market and, in the company’s eyes, the job of an entry-level Audi is well served by the A1, a second- generation version of which was recently revealed.
“I think we are well equipped with Q2 because this is already a premium product at the right price point,” said Stadler, when asked of plans for a Q1. “The A1 is our car for very young people. Possibilities below that get tighter.”