The Audi R8 GT

Audi's sales grow thanks in part to a dirty word

Audi’s sales results show the A6 and A7 luxury sport sedans closing the gap in the executive sedan segment vs. rivals due in part to a body style that is a dirty word in the luxury car world.

Audi’s A6/A7 series are driving strong sales growth for the maker and seem to be capturing market share from rivals. The A6 is a favorite company car choice for many executives. It is more unique than the Mercedes E class and BMW 5 series. That is another way to say that Audi sells a lot less of them. It is sort of like the expression Yogi Berra made famous “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” Although Audi does not have the most sales volume among the German makers, the A6 and A7 combined have tripled sales YTD versus last year’s sales of the A6 alone. The A7 is a re-bodied A6 with nearly identical running gear. The A7 competes directly with the Mercedes CLS and it has outsold the Mercedes year to date (1227 to 1037). The A7 also edged out the rival Porsche Panamera in February. On its own the Audi A6 has increased its sales 77%. It is safe to say that the A6/A7 are heroes of the Audi line-up. The 3, 4, and 5 lines have been steady sellers holding their numbers well. Overall Audi’s luxury utility vehicles and low volume sports cars have also been steady. This allows Audi to enjoy a nice sales bump overall due to the success of the A6 and A7.

There have been a few things holding back the A6 in the past. The most significant single issue had been flair. The A6 is a “handsome” car. That would be like a gal describing her friend as having “nice hair.” Audi has made a brilliant move to address this by gambling on a hatchback. After you stop cringing at the dirty word hatchback, please take a look at the A7. It may be the world’s sexiest hatchback. In the marketing brochure for the car you will not see a single photo of the car with the trunk open. Not one in all 46 pages. You will not find the word hatchback being thrown around by Audi either. Rather the car is a “Sportback.” However, a car that has a trunk connected to its back glass that opens in one piece is a- don’t say it. The truth is the design is almost universally accepted as beautiful by the auto press and sales have proven buyers agree. Another truth is that hatchbacks offer better luggage access and can offer more room. Together the A6 and A7 offer buyers a very similar car and driving experience and the choice of a suit worn for clubbing, or a suit worn for a business meeting.

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Engines have always held back the A6 as well. Historically the base V6 lagged the competition in terms or performance. Audi has wisely improved the V6 to the point where it is just right and offers the company’s workhorse 2.0T for those who don’t care about thrust so much. Interiors for the A6 have always been the cars best feature and they have actually gotten even better.

In the push to match the German competitors Audi took a brave step in introducing a new A7 body style to augment the A6 and combined sales of the Audi A6 and A7 have driven strong growth for the brand.