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Audi A4 wagon plans

And for those seeking more power, there's a V8-packing S4 waiting in the wings. The wagon was expected to make its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show but Audi insiders say the Paris Motor Show in September is now a better bet, while the cabriolet version has been delayed until 2009.

In Europe, Audi has enjoyed huge success with the wagon, capturing a massive 70 per cent of the market in Germany alone.

“Of course we are going to make an S4 and an estate (wagon) version of the A4; the estate is a cornerstone of our product line-up and Australia will get it in the final quarter of next year,” product manager Wolfram Bauer said at the launch of the sedan in Sardinia.

Bauer, while guarded in his comments, also confirmed Audi was doing a feasibility study into adding a Sportback hatch to the A4 line-up, but quashed reports it would be based on Audi's Roadjet, a concept shown at the Detroit Motor Show last year.

Audi has gone cold on the Roadjet's tall roof profile, which allowed the seats to be mounted high to boost leg room because of a similar design concept in the Mercedes-Benz R-Class MPV, has had disappointing sales.

“Yes, we are talking about a Sportback but obviously buyers didn't warm to the design (of the R-Class),” Bauer says.

It is now likely Audi will use the existing A3 hatch to create a new A4 five-door. Meanwhile, Bauer says Audi will have a hot hatch to take on the likes of the Mini Cooper S before 2010.

Audi hasn't been in the premium small-class market after the expensive A2, designed to take on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, failed to win over the hearts of buyers in Europe.

But the futuristic A1 and S1, described by Audi designers as their best-looking models yet, and is expected to use VW's 1.4-litre TSI engine, as used in the Golf GT, which utilises both turbo and supercharger technology.