He can either side with his sales and marketing experts in plumping for a compact SUV in the mould of the Range Rover Evoque, or follow the instincts of senior designers and engineers in opting for a more sporting fastback to go up the against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA.
It is a predicament of riches for the 51-year-old German, who recently announced an ambitious 22 billion euro growth plan that aims to enable Audi to become the world’s leading producer of premium-badged cars by the end of the decade.
“At the beginning of the year, we opened up the discussion to see if the TT line-up could be elaborated. Now we are coming to the stage where we have to make a decision,” Stadler recently told Autocar.
There has been a series of lengthy meetings between high-level Audi officials since the spectacular TT Sportback was revealed at the Paris motor show in October to signal proper board room intent to expand the TT line-up. However, the dilemma as to which model to choose apparently remains without resolution.
The TT Sportback was the third in a line of critically acclaimed TT-themed concept cars to be unveiled in 2014, following on from the TT Shooting Brake that was shown as a precursor to the production coupé at the Detroit motor show back in January, and the high-riding TT Offroad that appeared in an arresting yellow paint scheme at the Beijing motor show in April.
All three are individually described as possessing a realistic chance of entering production, but it is no secret that the TT Offroad and TT Sportback are Stadler’s preferred options for production.
That’s because their five-door layouts offer greater everyday practicality than that of the three-door TT Shooting Brake, even though the Shooting Brake’s commonality with the coupé and roadster would make it considerably cheaper to build, according to those in the know.
As the two Audi concept cars in question sit nose to nose on a windswept promenade in Cannes, waiting for me to sample them on the move for the very first time, the complexity of Stadler’s decision is brought into clear focus.
Concept cars are often nothing more than a flight of fancy with little in the way of production relevance. However, there is real substance to the appearance and mechanical package of each of the potential TT models.
They are both sufficiently convincing in the looks department and possess the sort of sound engineering required to become one of the 10 new models that Audi plans to add to its line-up by 2020.
Styled under the leadership of new design boss Marc Lichte, both the TT Offroad and TT Sportback show the heavy influences of the Bauhaus lineage that has influenced the look of the TT coupé and roadster since their introduction in 1996. So although they’re aimed at differing markets, they continue to remain true in appearance to the cars that inspired their creation.
Each features its own interpretation of Audi’s latest six-corner single-framed grille, trapezoidal-shaped headlamps, clamshell bonnet, prominent wheel arch elements, defined shoulder, shallow glasshouse and plunging C-pillar treatment.
But in a clear departure from the traditional three-door TT models currently on sale, both of the potential new TTs feature a more versatile five-door layout aimed at making them appeal to a whole new group of buyers. The TT Offroad boasts an angled tailgate whereas the TT Sportback receives a large fastback-style opening.