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Audi's Oz attack

The German prestige brand already has its revitalised TT here, and the TT convertible and R8 supercar are coming next year.

But Audi believes it needs more new models to broaden its appeal and continue its attack on Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

It has just confirmed a $17 billion offensive that will put 10 more models into the Audi family by 2015, including the mid-sized A5 coupe.

The additions will also include an all-wheel-drive Q5 to sit below the Q7 off-road flagship.

"There are tremendous opportunities in segments that we have not been in before," Audi Australia managing director Joerg Hofmann says.

"Our company has a very long-term approach, and part of achieving 1.5 million cars by 2015 is to have a big product offensive.

"We are doing it to compete in every segment with our premium competitors. It's a combination of new variants and new models.

"I would definitely expect half a dozen new models. We already have the R8, which is the first mid-engined sports car, then the A5 and the Q5."

Audi will stretch its line-up from 22 models today to 40 by 2015. It will spend about $3.2 billion a year on research and development. Total spending on new models will be more than $11 billion.

Hofmann is in Germany for management conferences to discuss the newcomers. He is also pushing for extra cars for Australia and the early introduction of new models.

He has very high hopes for the A5, which will sit between the TT and the R8. It will go head to head with BMW's 3-Series coupe and the Mercedes CLK.

"It's a stand-alone, separate product," Hofmann says.

"It's bigger than the A4. This is one of the niches that Audi is finally filling.

"It is one of the most beautiful cars that Audi has ever done."

The A5 is not expected here before 2008.

"We will try to get it as soon as possible. I would be very happy if we have a few cars in the country before the end of next year."

Hofmann says the A5, and the smaller Q5 AWD cannot fail because they will be tapping areas where his company has not been able to compete.

He believes they will have a similar impact to the Q7, which has been a sellout Down Under.

"Look at the number of BMW 3-Series coupes they sell in Australia each year, and the X3. If you add up the BMW numbers, it is 6000-7000 cars just in Australia," he says.

"The Q7 is the best example. And the Q5 will be another. That will give us the volume to push us for further growth."