Audi's new TT line-up could be expanded to include the launch of a 'family car'.
According to Audi technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg, the company is “working on future derivatives of the TT” in addition to the established coupé and roadster versions. “We are looking to see if there is more we can do,” Hackenberg said. “Could the TT be extended as a family car?”
Audi has already shown two high-performance TT-based concepts - the TT Ultra and 414bhp TT Quattro Sport - in the past 12 months. It has also had a second stab at a TT shooting brake, unveiling a concept based on the recently revealed third-generation TT.
It’s thought that Audi’s decision has been triggered partly by a plan to move from today’s 49-model line-up to 60 models over the medium term. The TT has become a highly potent sub-brand thanks to its status as a design icon. But despite its high profile and a relatively affordable starting price of £25,000, the TT sold just 18,353 units last year (down from 21,880 in 2012) - a tiny fraction of the 1.6 million cars that Audi sold globally in the same period.
Sales of coupés in general are suffering in today’s market. According to figures from automotive analyst JATO Dynamics, coupé sales fell by 31 per cent in Europe last year, making it the worst-performing segment. Premium coupé sales were also down by 21 per cent.
By contrast, sales of cars in compact premium sector rose by 24 per cent in Europe last year, second only to small SUVs and crossovers in the major market niches.
These shifts in the new car market make it clear that the biggest opportunities for more mainstream derivatives of the TT lie in the compact premium sectors. A compact saloon or fastback to compete with the Mercedes-Benz CLA would be the most logical immediate extension of the TT family.
The biggest question for the Audi board is whether a compact TT saloon would work based on the new A3 saloon’s MQB platform, rather than on a stretched version of the coupé’s expensive steel and aluminium hybrid architecture. The former platform would be essential if Audi wants to build a direct CLA rival.
Audi is running to catch up with the CLA, which has proved to be a smash hit, especially among the affluent under-40s new car buyers so sought after by premium car makers. Indeed, Scott Keogh, president of Audi US, said the market for entry-level luxury cars will “increase by 400 per cent” between now and 2020.
Audi has commissioned a series of celebrity-endorsed advertisments in the US for the launch of the A3. Additionally, a 64-page guide to holding parties to attract ‘cool, young and urban’ customers was sent to Audi’s 280 US dealers.