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Move over AMG and M-division; Audi's new performance sub-brand wants to be the global master of a four-ringed speed circus.
If you were to pinpoint the biggest improvements Audi has made over the last decade or so, it would surely be in the dynamic abilities of its performance models and its racing success.
The company now offers largely excellent RS variants across the greater part of its model range, while its dominance at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship has seen rivals crushed like bugs on a lightweight plexiglass windscreen.
What the company has not been so good at is consolidating this motorsport dominance and fine high-performance road-car range into one cohesive brand statement – particularly when compared to its German rivals.
To illustrate this, try a quick word (actually, letter) association exercise. BMW's high-performance division needs to draw on just a single consonant: it's all about M. Mercedes-Benz? Easy: it may require three letters – AMG – but the message they spell is clear to any car enthusiast.
But what about Audi? Is it RS? Actually no, that's a just a model prefix, and leaves out the all-important halo model, the brilliant mid-engined supercar called R8.
What the company needed was a tightly aligned, yet stand-alone entity
'Quattro GmbH' may ring a bell, but that's confusing, because isn't Quattro a drivetrain? Well, yes it is, but not when it has the GmbH suffix hung from it because then it becomes the company responsible for actually building the high-performance models.
You see the problem. What the company needed was a tightly aligned, yet stand-alone entity which could encapsulate everything related to its fast road cars and motor-racing interests.
It needed a sub-brand to reinforce the message of an exciting, dynamic car company, and provide a logical pathway through which to convert the lustful aspirations of would-be customers into cold hard currency. Hence the introduction of the seemingly obvious and simple-sounding Audi Sport.
It's a newly formed division of the business that, according to Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle is built on four 'pillars'. First and most obvious is the high-performance road-car division with its RS and R8 models.
In the instance of the RS cars, these will now arrive earlier, relative to their donor models, than previously, and will enjoy production runs that end later. In other words, you won't need to wait until 2018 for the RS version of next year's all-new A4, and you won't find it missing from the lineup if you're not ready to buy until 2019.
Obviously the Audi Sport banner will hang over all the company's corporate motorsport interests. Most important of these is its endurance racing program, but also its German DTM touring-car campaign, and the one-make curtain-raiser for the DTM championship, the Audi Sport TT Cup.
Audi Sport will even pair emerging and aspiring racers with a pro driver for coaching and pro-am events
However, another motorsport area has emerged as significantly lucrative for the company: the growth segment of customer motorsport. As the rich of the world get richer, it's not hard to see why. The pursuit of racing cars has always been seen as a glamorous and daring pursuit for the wealthy and successful, and now, particularly via China and the Middle East, owner-drivers who require no external sponsorship whatsoever are proliferating.
For these cashed-up enthusiasts (or fledgling teams), Audi Sport provides tuition through the Audi Race Experience, and will sell them a car like the R8 LMS Ultra (the new generation of which, incidentally, shares 90 percent of its components with the R8 V10 road car, unveiled recently and on sale next year) for a cool $800,000 plus spares and technical support. Audi Sport will even pair emerging and aspiring racers with a pro driver for coaching and pro-am events.
The final pillar in the Audi Sport pantheon is the retail element. It's here you'll hear all those slightly annoying marketing phrases like 'customer touch-points' and '360-degree experiences', which basically translate to a dedicated Audi Sport section of the retail showroom given over to the RS models, their expensive options, and the training and fashion accoutrements one needs to make the transition to full-blown four-ringed convert.
Two in Melbourne are already up and running, with more to be rolled out over the next 12 months. All will spill over with drool-worthy stuff, so approach with caution, folks...
When asked if the Audi Sport initiative is really just the Inglolstadt brand falling into line with its German rivals, Andrew Doyle is quick to draw distance and distinction: "Not at all," he says.
"It's all about a new emphasis on Audi performance. We've had great success in motorsport, while last year marked the 20th anniversary of the first Audi RS model; this is a strategy which helps leverage those achievements into something credible for our customers."
And plenty who aren't customers – yet.