Audi Relaunches Audi Sport GmbH, As Many As Eight Performance Models Are On Deck
Racing division and performance car division will fall under one roof nowby Kirby Garlitos, on
Audi’s involvement in endurance racing may have ended with the sudden closure of its Le Mans racing program, but the German automaker isn’t prepared to throw in the towel as far as its participation in motorsports is concerned. In fact, Audis’ other racing endeavors will go on as scheduled under the relaunched Audi Sport GmbH brand, which replaces Quattro GmbH as the go-to division for all of Audi’s performance vehicles and racing activities moving forward.
Former Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann will take charge of Audi Sport GmbH and all of its programs, including the aforementioned motor racing arm, as well as the Audi Exclusive program, Audi sport merchandise, and most importantly, the German automakers very own performance cars.
What this means is that Audi’s present and future performance road cars will now be under the Audi Sport GmbH umbrella. This includes the current lineup of R8 models, the S8 Plus performance models, and the five RS models - RS3 sedan, RS Q3 crossover, RS6 Avant, RS7 Sportback, and TT RS - currently being sold by the brand. The reshuffling itself is big news, one that could lead to future participation among the different programs under Audi Sport GmbH.
What’s also big news, at least pertaining to the performance road car division, is the confirmation that no less than eight new models are being planned for release over the next 18 months. Do the math and that timetable concludes sometime in the middle of 2018. So, between now and then, we can expect to see more performance Audis enter production.
The mystery at this point is what models they’re going to be. One of the most likely candidates is the RS5 coupe, which is due to make its own comeback. Beyond that though, there are a multitude of possibilities, including new versions of existing models or new versions altogether. Is it possible then that current Audi models like the A1, A4, Q2, and Q7 could get their own RS-badged models in the next 18 months?
It’s hard to tell at this point without more concrete details from Audi, but the important thing here is that Audi’s family of performance road cars will grow in the course of the next year and a half under the relaunched Audi Sport GmBh brand.
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Is there a bigger and more important reason behind the name switch?
That’s a good question, one that, quite frankly, I still don’t know the answer to. The broad strokes of it is Audi possibly trying to put all of its performance programs under one roof, which would be fine except that the previous set-up was fine by itself. Audi Sport served as Audi’s racing program and Quattro GmbH was its performance road car division. Why abolish the latter and put everything together under the Audi Sport name, effectively turning them into one family?
It’s possible that Audi’s just streamlining its businesses to make them leaner and tighter. It’s also possible that without the Le Mans program, Audi Sport’s other racing endeavors would be better suited if it was put together with the performance road car program. Seems like reasonable explanations, right?
It makes sense in that regard and the long term effects could lead to less confusion on what Audi’s doing with what program. Maybe this name-change is all part of a long-term play to establish some connections between the company’s performance road car division and its racing program. That possibility is admittedly exciting and one that I’m going to be eager to see down the road.
Without any specific reasons behind it, it’s hard to make any judgments on Audi’s move here. So in times like this, the wait-and-see approach might be the most logical play. Here’s to hoping that more clarity, other than the planned eight performance road cars (that’s awesome!), comes out of this decision.