By on June 10, 2017

2017 Audi Q7, Image: Audi AG

As Audi pushes new and refreshed product out the door in a mad rush, hoping to create the youngest lineup of any German automaker, it can’t ignore the requests of brand loyalists. In the United States, those buyers want one thing more anything else: a bigger SUV.

The three-row Q7 is nice, but in the land of Expeditions and Suburbans, it simply doesn’t measure up. Space-obsessed German vehicle aficionados can climb into a Mercedes-Benz GLS and enjoy more room. Naturally, Audi isn’t about to let an opportunity slip away.

It also wants to do something about those pesky buyers who want more cargo room, but won’t drive an SUV.

Speaking at the launch of the A5 and S5 Sportback in Seattle, Audi of America planning director Barry Hoch said the automaker’s lineup has plenty of room to expand — especially in the upward direction. According to Automotive News, Hoch claims the company’s American brass are busy pressuring Ingolstadt to give U.S. buyers what they want most.

“For us, obviously, one request from this side of the ocean is to have an even bigger SUV,” said Hoch. “That’s pure white space that’s out there for us. From an American perspective, that’s one we are pushing to get, and I think we’re getting some traction.”

While Audi has a coupe-like Q8 SUV in the works, the luxury-laden model won’t best the Q7 in terms of passenger or cargo space. The concept shown in Detroit this year only had four seats! That simply won’t do. Americans need space for dogs and muddy (but not too muddy) kids.

As it strong-arms its corporate overlords to green-light something huge, Audi has other customers to think about. Namely, those who think SUVs are crass.

Explaining that a segment of American Audi buyers remain staunchly “anti-SUV,” Hoch said he’d like to see more cargo-friendly offerings on the smaller end of the lineup. The automaker has already decided to hatchback all the things, but only one wagon exists stateside — the A4 Allroad.

There is a small group of aficionados who could benefit from an additional wagon from Audi,” Hoch said. “It’s certainly something that we see over in Europe, and I want it.”

European buyers can still buy an A6 wagon in Avant, Allroad, S6 and RS 6 guises, something American wagon snobs (or auto journos) can only dream of.

[Image: Audi AG]

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27 Comments on “Americans Want It Bigger, and Audi’s Working On It...”


  • avatar
    Ermel

    Here in Germany, I’ve found the following rule of thumb for identifying Audi SUVs (which I don’t care for enough to memorize their subtle design differences): If it looks normal-sized, it’s a Q3. If it looks huge, it’s a Q5. If it resembles a Microbus with a gigantic bonnet added on the front end, it’s a Q7.

    The potential US-sized one (Q9?) will probably most resemble a school bus or something. But then of course that’s its real-life purpose, too.

    Will it be four-row?

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      Your sensibilities echoes the non US experience except that I feel the Q3 is too small…. if I
      ‘m putting up with CUV quasi SUV pain then I need to haul 5 people plus luggage confortably… the Q3 doesnt do that.

      I do always marvel at the Q7 – its just so damn big. I believe its bigger than the early 2000s Suburban and unless you need to three rows a lot, why?

      I do recall the US has sizes bigger than a Suburban; the Ford Expedition sized SUVs, the Q9 wants to hit that market. I suppose a bigger Q7 is a low risk strategy.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        The Q3 is not a real SUV similar to the Subaru Crosstrek is not a real SUV. Yet both are extremely popular vehicles. Ask an Audi salesman and see how hard it is to sell a Q3 or Q5.

      • 0 avatar
        newenthusiast

        The first gen Q7 is not bigger than a Suburban. It is essentially as long as the Tahoe/Yukon twins of the early 2000’s (199.6 inches for the GM twins, 200 inches for the Audi). The Suburban was 220 inches for that era. It’s currently a shade under 225 inches. The Tahoe/Yukons are taller and boxier, even now, which makes sense since they are BOF SUVs vs a long, unibody crossover. They run 204 inches in their current form.

        The Expedition is also not as long as a Suburban. In its current form, its 206 inches.

        I own a first gen Q7, and third row room is fine for my needs (my oldest is in activities, and a few times a week, I taxi 4 or 5 pre-teens around). It is not good for adults for a long haul, though. And of course, with the third row up you sacrifice space. But it tows more than any minivan I looked at (6600lbs with the towing package. I have towed my father in law’s boat and trailer occasionally, and that is around 5,100 lbs). A minivan would not have been the right vehicle for me.

        Audi would not need to go as long as a Suburban. In the past year, family vacations have required a rental of a large vehicle at our destinations. With all of us and all of our luggage for a week or two, I found that the Chevy Traverse and the Infiniti QX80 have more third row leg room and still offer space for 5-6 pieces of smaller to mid-sized luggage behind the third row. The Traverse is 205 inches, I think, and the Infiniti is 208. This is right in line with the Ford Expedition, and a little larger than the GM twins.

        The only thing I am wondering about is that all the other vehicles listed here, excepting the Traverse, are BOF SUV’s. Would Audi produce a BOF SUV to be class competitive, or would they use unibody construction? Does VAG offer a BOF platform on any of their North American vehicles? Would Audi really do essentially a bespoke model just for this market? If not, would it just be an even further stretch of their MLB platform? (FYI, I was told by a poster here that T=the VW Atlas is MQB and they are different platforms with different costs and construction. The Atlas is not a stripped Q7).

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Ermel,
      There is a difference between a lower quality Expedition and even a Landcruiser wagon, let alone a large German SUV.

      We currently are using Expeditions and the vehicle is not prestigeous. Its like a cheap Mitsubishi on the inside.

      I do believe there is a global market for quality large SUVs.

      As Trump wants to export more vehicles, the Big Three need to produce higher quality SUVs, not pickup (commercial vehicle) quality products as SUVs.

      MB and BMW do build quality SUVs in the US that are exported.

      A larger Audi will have a market for the more discerning customer chasing quality.

      I really don’t see the connection between a Suburban/Expidition as the author does. I would own a prestige car, but not a car from a basic appliance manufacturer like GM or Ford.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    Americans want it bigger because, sad to say, Americans keep getting bigger. You can thank Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Agriculture, and the usual $$$$$$$$ trough-feeding cast of characters.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      It’s actually the “soccer-moms” who are driving the demand for full-size/3-row crossovers (as a minivan substitute).

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      All those great chemically induced foods also can decrease testosterone levels in turn makes males fatter. So now we have low testosterone fat males that need to compensate for those issues. Hence more and more Americans wanted bigger and bigger vehicles to make up for those issues. Similar to when lesbians drive a Corvette or Z28 which equal a phallic “male genitalia” symbol.

      Maybe this is why I’ve been researching quad cab long bed 4×4 Sierra 3500’s and Ram 3500”s.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I’ve heard that in Texas, gravy is considered a beverage. :)

      Just kidding guys… apologies to all Texans here.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      dates,
      I think a person chasing an Expidition is not in the market for a MB, Audi or BMW.

      An Expedition customer does want size, but this is a global trend, not just US, hence the increase in SUV, CUV and pickips globally.

      The difference is the US it is more affordable to maintain a large vehicle. This is the reason for the larger lower quality SUV market in the US.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    There is a season for all things, and the large SUV will have exhausted its moment on the stage at some point. Hopefully, Audi’s largest SUV won’t arrive just in time for the collapse.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The luxury end of the market, tends to follow quite a bit behind the mainstream. They’ve kept buying big american land yachts (with more fashionable foreign badges) for decades after they fell out of favor amongst most buyers. It’s only natural that they’ll keep buying Broncos and Suburbans, long after the mainstream has replaced those with a crewcab.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Stuki,
        Exactly. Suburban LTZs, their GMC equivalant, Jeep Cherokee Grand Wagoneers, Navigators/Excursions/Explorers; whatever will actually tow a horse trailer or boat. An Escalade could, but I’ve never seen one with a hitch/brake combo

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    It will be cool to see some A6 wagons again.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Absolutely, I’d love a A6 wagon. Though my wife test drove an Audi allroad last month and it was fantastic. Essentially it’s high an end version of an Subaru Outback with a sportier suspicion and $25,000 increase in price.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Looks like maybe there should be an Audi version of the VW Atlas with a more luxurious interior and Audi engines.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Gas prices, safety and fuel efficiency will continue to improve. I don’t blame folks for going bigger. A Honda Pilot is very big to me, even bigger from my Mazda3. Even with side airbags I want to get something bigger just to feel safe.
    CR-V or CX-5 are probably in my future. If only German cars had a better reputation for reliability, although I feel OK about an older X3 or X5.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      If you’re looking at a cr-v or cx-5 take a look at the Forester XT Touring. That vehicle destroys the cx-5 and CR-V in almost every category. Or just the Forester Touring 2.5. My wife has that cuv and we are averaging 29 mpg and we just got close to averaging 36 mpg on a 700 mile trip to Yellowstone. If you don’t like the Forester, go with the CX-5 especially if you want awd.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Does no one take notice at how boring Audi’s designs are? I’ve never seen anyone point it out but literally everything they make has that dumpy look.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I like the look of most Audis. The SUVs look dull, but all SUVs do. Among Sedans and coupes, I tend to prefer the traditional Audi look, to the more currently fashionable precrashed one.


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