It seems record-breaking sales aren’t enough for Audi: the upmarket brand is on the hunt for yet another niche. Sources say Audi is closely investigating a more practical A4-based MPV crossover – and our exclusive pictures give the best idea yet of how it could look.
Dubbed ‘SuperAvant’, after Audi’s well known estate range, it will offer more interior space than the current A4 Avant while avoiding the handling and fuel efficiency compromises of a Q5-sized SUV.
It’ll also occupy a new class in the market, above premium mini-MPVs like the Mercedes B-Class. The SuperAvant will offer more space and versatility for a starting price of around £30,000.
Marking the car out is a raised roof that allows more headroom without ruining the looks. Inside, it’s set to be extremely flexible, with a wide variety of seating options similar to the Vauxhall Zafira or the Ford Grand C-MAX. For example, the middle bench could feature a central seat that folds away, allowing the outer seats to slide back and create a luxurious space for two.
There would also be a pair of fold-out seats in the third row, making the SuperAvant a genuine seven-seater.
The car will be powered by a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, including some hybrids. Audi’s hope is that the SuperAvant will be the first of a family of similar cars that could stretch up to the A6 and down to the A3.
However, some problems lie ahead for the new model. Internal backers of the MPV plan are rumoured to be having a tough time convincing Audi’s board that such a car could maintain the brand’s upmarket image. Sources report that the problems largely stem from Audi’s Roadjet concept car that was seen at the 2006 Detroit Motor Show. It offered the same practical benefits that the SuperAvant proposes.
“The trouble with the Roadjet concept was nobody understood it,” explained a source. “Instead we decided the A5 Sportback was better for the brand.”
Other plans on the drawing board include a stretched A4 Avant with a longer wheelbase to give buyers more space in a familiar estate-car package. While the A4 SuperAvant’s advocates are fighting their corner, another Audi crossover is definitely getting the green light: the Q6. This sporty SUV rival to the BMW X6 is already said to have the backing of Audi chairman Rupert Stadler and engineering boss Michael Dick.
“The next Q7 [due in 2014] is very important, and a sexy version of the standard model is definitely planned,” our source told us. “If we do it, it will use the MLB platform, which will also underpin the next Porsche Cayenne and forthcoming SUVs from Lamborghini and Bentley.”
Update: This article was updated with the full story on 10 April 2012.