Audi of America is lobbying Germany for another 'S' performance car and adding more horsepower to its 2001 TT Coupe and TT Roadster.
Both moves are part of Audi of America's strategy to increase performance across its product range.
When Audi of America in the fall added the S4 sports sedan to its A4 range of sedans and wagons, it anticipated selling about 200 a month. S4 sales have been selling at a clip of up to 500 a month.
'We've had a runaway success with the S4,' said Len Hunt, vice president of Audi of America. 'So we've talked to our German colleagues and we're looking to expand the S strategy in the United States.'
Hunt would not say which S car he is pursuing. Audi AG, the parent company in Ingolstadt, Germany, builds a full range of S cars - the S3, S4, S6 and S8 - for Europe and other markets.
The S6 is a likely S candidate for the United States. Audi AG unveiled the S6 with a 340-hp V-8 engine during the Frankfurt auto show in September.
The 2000 S4, a high-performance version of the A4 sedan, went on sale in the United States in September. The S4 has a 250-hp V-6 engine with two turbochargers, one for each bank of cylinders instead of a single, larger unit.
The S4 has become a sort of halo car for the brand, Hunt said.
Audi sold 1,932 S4 sports sedans in the United States during the final four months of 1999.
'Being in a position as export market No. 1, you can have a longer wish list than before,' said Walter Hanek, marketing director at Audi of America.
North America was Audi's top export market during 1998 and 1999. For the 2000 model year, Audi of America introduced two additional A6 models, one with a more powerful V-6 engine, the other with a V-8 engine.
Now the TT Coupe gets a power lift. The TT Coupe was introduced last May in the states with a 180-hp, turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. A 225-hp version will be available in the 2001 TT Coupe in May and in the 2001 TT Roadster, which arrives in the United States in May.
STRETCHING THE A8
Audi also has stretched its A8 sedan to better compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW premium luxury products, Hunt said.
'The A8 long wheelbase is a bloody important car for us,' he said. Audi will begin offering the 2000 A8 L this spring, as well as the original A8 model.
The A8 L has a 118.5-inch wheelbase, an increase of 5.1 inches. The added length provides 4 cubic feet more interior volume for rear-seat passengers, Hunt said.
Said Hunt: 'Research shows us that our competitors are selling about 80 percent of their top-line vehicles in a long wheelbase format here in the U.S.'