Audi have become increasingly competitive with the big boys of the German car manufacturing industry. This competitiveness has been predominantly gained through the release and development of the Audi A4 and the A8. These two cars form the core of the Audi range and as such have been important in courting business away from Mercedes and BMW, the current leaders in the saloon car market.
At the moment the Audi A4 makes up half of the cars made by Audi, and for the German company can be considered the most profitable of all the Audi range. Subsequently, work has been fervent in creating the A4, to compete with the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes C Class has been the mandate, and the designers have worked to match these two cars in terms of performance, luxury and style. The A4 is currently in its fourth generation and can be considered the bread and butter of the Audi range. The technology it contains is maybe a symptom of the current saloon car market, evidently executives like their gadgets.
The entire Audi range is packed full of technological advances to make life easier for the driver, and more comfortable for passengers, not to mention safer for travellers more generally. Audi in the past have been in the wake of Mercedes' technological department; this is however changing. The latest A4 model has an all encompassing airbag system that works towards protecting all of the passengers; it also has LED daylights that can be considered another safety feature. Technology 'borrowed' from Mercedes includes the impressive lane departure system warning drivers when they stray from their motorway lane. Although the more the car manufacturing industry helps the development of such safety measures, the better.
Like the 5 Series BMW the Audi utilises an advanced drive selection system giving the driver control over engine management, suspension settings and the responsiveness of the steering. This seems to be an increasing trend in the saloon car market that has taken advantage of new technology to give the driver more control than they have ever had before over the way the car handles and performs. For instance; adjusting the suspension from soft and comfortable to hard and unrelenting for extreme driving is now possible.
Along with the A4, the Audi range has a flagship in the A8, created to rival the BMW 7 Series. This car, like many of the prestige saloons on the market offers luxury and elegance combined with comfort thanks to its large size. The engine it utilises is not only powerful but also economical, especially in terms of the diesel model. This should be of especial importance as the current situation of super high fuel prices continues. Accompanying literature of the A8 claims the diesel car can travel nearly six hundred miles on a full tank.
BBC's Top Gear programme tested this claim when the show's presenter, Jeremy Clarkson drove the car powered by a diesel engine all the way to John O'Groates from London and back again without refuelling the car. This was taking frugal driving to the extreme including coasting down the larger hills but still acts as proof of the Audi engine's exemplary fuel economy.
The Audi range clearly has some fine examples of motor cars, while it is still behind its German rivals in terms of sales it is currently gaining on the industry giants. This attempt to carve a niche in the German saloon car market has led to improved fortunes for Audi more generally. The A3 is now a popular small car while the new R8 sports car is one of the most hotly desired cars on the planet. Because of the high levels of competition provided by BMW and Mercedes Audi have had to raise their game considerably; arguably they have done this through efficient design and excellent brand marketing.
Motoring expert Thomas Pretty looks into how the Audi range is increasingly competing with BMW and Mercedes.