- Audi enters lifestyle pick up arena
- Expects impressive market penetration for premium product
- Ambitious plans may cause discomfort for other manufacturers
Audi's surprise from New York International Auto Show
Slipped into the press materials for the RS 5 Sportback, Audi also announced the release of the new 3X pick up. Designed for a rugged, yet professional and refined lifestyle, the light commercial vehicle aims to set a new benchmark for the class.
Drawing on the best the Volkswagen Audi Group has to offer, a platform derived from the successful Amarok has been extensively modified to suit a more road-focused buyer.
Head of Audi’s specialist recreational vehicle programme, Helmut Wagenknecht, explains the new nomenclature for the pick up. ‘We’re simply running out of numbers and letters. Even if it’s something that makes sense, some other firm has leapt on the letter-and-number bandwagon. So, we had to innovate.
‘We feel the number-and-letter scheme has immense potential for market visibility; the X designation for the new class of Sport Utility Cargo Recreational vehicles – SUCRs – emphasizes the way we’re magnifying our presence in an emerging global market. We expect to find many SUCRs around the world in the near future’.
S3X expected to appeal to hard working British drivers
Initially, the Audi 3X will be offered with a development of the North American 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. This deliberate move to forge a strong tie to the original Quattro is enhanced by a tuned exhaust system that emphasises the off-beat note of the engine. Ur-line will include distinctive faded Audi rings on the front doors, unique white paint and classic racing colours.
Audi UK anticipate their most popular model will be the S3X. ‘Extensive research indicates that the British will prefer the more intimate interior and thrusting powertrain of the S3X’, according to European marketing manager Ivana Zirgsap. Powered by the 3.2-litre TDi found in the current VW Amarok, this is tuned for 260hp and 600Nm. Suspension has been lowered by 30mm, and 21-inch wheels are standard equipment.
Audi will also be presenting the worlds’ first properly sporting pick up; the RS-3X. ‘We expect that the performance of the RS model will place many supercar manufacturers in an uncomfortable place’, said Chief Development Engineer Dr. Ivan Buddleigh. Significantly altered from the original 3X, the sporting model includes a triple-turbocharged evolution of the Porsche-built 2.9 V6, producing 475hp and 730Nm.
Underneath, the standard rear suspension has been replaced with a bespoke aluminium and carbon fibre independent setup featuring a transverse composite leaf spring and inboard dampers. Carbon fibre also features in the bodywork, providing the door skins, front wing and rear flares on the aluminium rear bed.
The weight reduction allows the RS-3X to achieve 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 130mph. ‘We have, however, struggled to control emissions from our RS; research suggests that buyers of this type of vehicle don’t care’.
No tax advantages to be had from RS-3X
Company car buyers will be disappointed to find that the chassis changes to the RS-3X mean it is not counted as a light commercial vehicle for tax, however, with a payload of just 800Kg and towing capacity of 2,800Kg. Audi are confident of the appeal. Ivana Zirgsap boldly states ‘we feel that the RS-3X has a tightly defined space in the market with performance to attract buyers regardless of taxation – in our range, if the 3X am a rock, the RS-3X am a diamond’.