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Audi boss rules out RS Q models

Martin Sander, Audi UK UK director Martin Sander
Audi is unlikely to build RS versions of its Q models because it believes that would be at odds with what the performance brand stands for. Well, at least that’s the opinion of recently-appointed UK director Martin Sander.Sander explained that RS versions of its SUV models would certainly sell and could become potent rivals to BMW’s X6M and X5M, but he said he didn’t believe the two brands sat together comfortably.
“For me, RS stands for the most extreme models for the race track,” he explained. “An SUV has a high centre of gravity and that does not provide the same driving dynamics that our RS models usually have. This is a challenge for the RS philosophy.”

Sander said it was his job, as part of the management team, to consider what is right for the premium brand and that at the moment combining Q models and RS was too much of a contradiction.

“This is an interesting balancing act that we have to manage as a premium brand,” he explained.

“They would sell I’m sure. But then we could also easily sell 50,000 more cars a year simply by bringing the price down, but that is not a good business case.

“It is tempting to combine RS and Q, but we have to ask, is it right? These cars need to be emotional and aspirational and have racing performance.”

Sander said he is enjoying his new role as the head of Audi UK. He replaced Jeremy Hicks who departed for Jaguar Land Rover at the end of last year.

“I’ve been with the company for 17 years and I know the market,” he said. “There is so much more we can do to continue the success of Audi in the UK. We have not capitalised on all the opportunities that the new products offer yet.

“Our brand is also going from strength to strength. It is extremely strong and is driving demand.

Over the next couple of years you will really see a combination of a fantastic brand and a level of interest that will take our sales to the next level.”

Despite the economy looking tough and an expected flat new car sales market, Sander still believes Audi will grow in 2012.

“We expected the market to be a struggle,” he said. “But now sales in the first few months are up, order intake is strongly up for March. We will be growing our sales significantly this year.”

Audi Q3