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Car Confidential: Audi’s new model boost

If you think a German carmaker’s AGM is bound to be dull, then think again. If the suits aren’t at each other’s throats, they’re spilling the beans about forthcoming cars.

True to form, Martin Winterkorn name-checked three new models at Audi’s annual knees up last month. First is the S3, due mid-summer. Winterkorn only confirmed that the S3 would have three doors and a sporty engine. The flagship S3 will run a 2.0-litre four, with two fewer cylinders than the current top model, the 246bhp 3.2 V6.

Does not compute? It does when you hear that Audi has cranked up the turbocharger boost pressure to yield around 270bhp.

Winterkorn also confirmed that an A5 Coupé will join the range in 2007, as Car Confidential predicted back in January. This two-door wears the sexy skin previewed by the Nuvolari concept in 2003. It introduces the firm’s new, flexible architecture, which will underpin a host of front-drive and quattro models, including the next A4.

Insiders claim these cars will be the most dynamic Audis yet – V8, V6 and four-cylinder engines coupled to six-speed manual and a seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission.

The A5 will be built at the Ingolstadt factory, alongside the third of Winterkorn’s new boys, the Q5.

The location is no coincidence, because the Q5 is a crossover SUV spun off the same platform as the A5. The five-seater, due in 2008, will be pitched at the BMW X3 and Mercedes’ forthcoming baby ML. The look is sportier than an X3’s – the body will be jacked up to boost ground clearance, with air suspension optional. In the nose are 2.0-litre and V6 petrols, and diesels, coupled to a quattro drivetrain.

Winterkorn reiterated a target of 1.4m Audi sales by 2015, too. Today’s volume is 820,000, so the new model push won’t end there. Roll on 2007’s financial discussions for more news…

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