With styling inspired by Marc Lichte’s Audi Prologue concept, the brand new A7 will be unveiled in end 2017 while the new A6 will follow soon after in 2018. Here’s a first look at what to expect.
Being a car designer can, at times, be a bit awkward. As soon as a designer takes charge of a new assignment, he or she is normally in a roaring hurry to express their vision for the brand with subsequent model launches. But, in the initial few years at least, they end up promoting models that have been developed by other designers. This tends to continue all the way till their own ideas start to finally materialise into production models. And it certainly appears as though Marc Lichte, chief designer at Audi since 2014, is no exception to this rule. While his first contribution at Audi came in the form of the aforementioned Prologue concept, he was forced to assume surrogate fatherhood of the A4 (2015) and A5 (2016). But, now his vision is ready to materialise in a series of achievements.
In Frankfurt, later this year, Audi will launch the next-generation A8, then the A7 will arrive by the end of the year, followed by A6 in the first half of 2018 (there will also be a couple of SUV launches in between). Drawing heavily on the Audi Prologue concept, this upcoming trio has been designed intensively to highlight the different personalities of each model as opposed to maintaining pure brand consistency.
Combining the practicality of a fast sedan with the sportiness of a coupe, the A7 remains a niche model with less than 26,000 units sold worldwide in 2016. The A6, on the contrary, is at the core of the Audi range with more than 276,000 units sold in sedan, Avant and All-road body styles.
The A6 is an important product. That said, it’s not Audi’s bestseller. It contributes only 15% to the brand’s global sales. However, it brings with it high profitability and it’s strategically placed. Not only does the A6 face stiff competition from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, but it also has to contend with its own SUV siblings, which nowadays contribute to more than a third of the company’s turnover. All of this means that the new A6 has absolutely no margin for error!
The fifth generation A6 adopts the MLB-Evo platform for longitudinal engines (shared with the Q7), making it up to 100kgs lighter – which means less consumption and emissions, as well as enhanced driving pleasure. Inside, the cabin will have fewer buttons and knobs. The dashboard will feature two touch screens (possibly with haptic feedback), while a touchpad will replace the control knob on the centre console.
In terms of autonomous technology, the new A6 will herald a semi-autonomous drive function that it’ll inherit from the upcoming A8 – which itself is expected to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year. Under the hood, there’ll be optimised versions of the current 2.0-litre TFSI and TDI motors, along with a V6 turbo-diesel. The latter will be fitted to the S6 and S7 and come strapped with two turbos, generating almost 500bhp. The more powerful RS6 and RS7 are expected to be launched between 2018 and 2019, and will retain the current V8 motor – generating a power output of around 600bhp. Automatic transmissions will feature both the S-tronic (dual-clutch auto) and the Tiptronic (torque converter), and, obviously, they’ll come paired with Quattro all-wheel drive.
The hybrid plug-in (e-Tron) is most likely to get a V6 engine coupled to an electric motor, like the Q7. There is also the possibility of using a smaller 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor as well mated to the hybrid powertrain.
Stay tuned for more later this year.
Dynamic, taut, light and refined – all thanks to the MLB Evo platform. On offer will be 4-cylinder and V6 motors. A hybrid plug-in e-Tron is also in the pipeline, followed by S6 and RS6 derivatives. But will there be a fully electric version? Well, you never know…
A7 late 2017
The A7 Sportback will arrive at dealerships before the sedan. It might even feature a 2.0-litre turbo motor as the default choice. Also confirmed are S7 and RS7 versions.
A6 Avant 2018
There’s no fixed launch date as of now for the Avant version – the station wagon. We may see this body-style come to India once again in the form of the RS6 at some point in the future.
FOUR MATERIALS FOR THE FLAGSHIP
Aluminium, steel, magnesium and plastic reinforced by carbon fibre will be used together for the first time to build the body structure of the fourth generation A8. The new A8 will be the first production model that’s entirely designed by Lichte. With an unprecedented mix of materials, the flagship car truly moves Audi’s famous Space Frame construction forward. Additional advancements have been achieved thanks to the use of new sheet metal welding technologies.
When the new A7 debuts later this year, it’ll have a lot of A8 in its appearance. Compared with the A6, though, it’ll have slimmer headlights and, of course, its signature fastback design.
Short overhangs, wide shoulders and prominent fenders are some of the key design highlights of the new A6.
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