What is it?
Imagine how different a company Audi must feel today than it did 10 years ago. Once the envy of the industry, the firm’s formerly phenomenal growth curve now looks to have permanently levelled off. Its closest competitors have overtaken it. The ex-boss and a couple of his lieutenants have ended up in court. Perhaps even more worryingly still if you’re an Audi employee, though, must be the prospect of the product strategy that has fuelled the company’s rise now suddenly seeming to have run out of road.
It was with those odd-numbered, designer Sportback saloons that the firm really started putting on the sales volume back in the noughties. Back then, too, came the Q-prefixed SUVs, whose appearance on the roads none of us can have failed to notice, and none of which seemed to miss its target market.
With another brand-new, big-selling, mid-sized model along every year, how easy it must have been for besuited salesmen in shiny showrooms, over a couple of phone calls and meetings, to manoeuvre a regular client from A4 to A5, from A5 Sportback to A4 Avant, and then into a Q5; each time squeezing just a little more monthly bunce out of a customer who likes the brand, always wants the latest thing, and has the disposable income to change their car like some of us buy shoes. That, folks, is how you grow a premium car brand in the modern world: with fresh product along every five minutes.
And now? Well, that product expansion plan has played itself out to the point that new arrivals are Sportback versions of Q-car SUVs (and that gigantic product strategy Venn diagram on the office wall in Ingolstadt can’t have much vacant space left on it). Eighteen months ago, along came the first – the Q3 Sportback – and now we’ve got a bigger Q5 take on the concept.