Audi's longtime U.S. bestseller, the A4 sedan, lost its crown to the Q5 crossover in 2013.
That was a sign of the times for fast-growing Audi, which sees crossovers and SUVs as its biggest growth opportunity in the U.S. and around the world. Audi's product cadence will accelerate over the next few years, with the brand more than doubling its crossover and SUV lineup by adding a subcompact Q1, compact Q3 and ultra-luxurious Q8 to join the midsize Q5 and full-size Q7. The Q5 and Q7 will get thorough redesigns as well.
But the A4 will hardly wither away. Starting in 2015, Audi will redesign the A4 family. Likely coming to the U.S. for the next product cycle are the A4 Avant station wagon and a plug-in hybrid called the A4 e-tron. The e-tron banner will be sprinkled across Audi's lineup as part of the brand's big push into electrification. The first to arrive in the U.S. will be the A3 e-tron, which goes on sale in early 2015.
Together, the new crossovers, variants and hybrids add still more metal to Audi's ballooning U.S. lineup, which also includes several convertibles and high-performance models bearing the "S" and "RS" badges.
Here are Audi's highlights for the 2015-17 model years.
A1: When it went on sale in 2010, Audi's smallest car was not meant for the U.S. market. That may change with the next iteration of the Mini Cooper competitor, which will go on sale in Europe in 2016 and could arrive in the U.S. by 2017 if it can be offered at a compelling price. No decision has been made.
A3: Audi is now rolling out a family of compact cars based on the redesigned A3, which went on sale in hatchback form in Europe in 2012.
The first to arrive in the U.S. was the new four-door sedan that was launched in March, followed this summer by a convertible and the high-performance S3. A five-door hatchback with a choice of diesel and e-tron plug-in hybrid powertrains will follow in early 2015. All offer Audi's latest MMI infotainment system and a 4G connection.
The A3 sedan will get a facelift in 2018 for the 2019 model year.
A4: A redesigned version of Audi's global best-seller -- based on Volkswagen Group's current-generation MLB toolkit -- is due in Europe in late 2014. It will grow larger but lighter, with more features and a bigger price tag to distance it from the A3.
The sedan is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in late 2015 or early 2016 as a 2016 model, with a 2-liter diesel engine offered. The sedan will get an updated version of the MMI infotainment system and will offer Apple Inc.'s CarPlay interface for the iPhone as well as Google Inc.'s Android Auto interface.
A plug-in hybrid A4 is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. about a year later.
A4 Avant: Audi plans to offer U.S. customers either the A4 Avant station wagon or the A4-based Allroad, which has a higher ground clearance and body cladding. A decision has not been made but the Avant is the odds-on favorite.
It is expected to arrive in 2016, a year after its European launch, as a 2017 model.
A5: Audi will redesign the A4's coupe cousin in Europe in late 2015. The coupe is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2016 as a 2017 model, with the convertible version arriving soon after that.
Audi could easily offer a diesel engine for the U.S. market because of the A5's similarity to the A4. No decision has been made. The company is watching diesel sales for the Volkswagen Beetle to see whether buyers of stylish coupes will pay an upfront premium for the fuel savings of diesel. An e-tron option is also being considered.
Audi may send U.S. dealers the A5 sportback, a four-door coupe that looks like a miniaturized A7. It could come to the U.S. in 2017 as a 2018 model.
A6: The midsize sedan is scheduled to get a mid-cycle refresh in the third quarter of 2015 for the 2016 model year, including a new fascia and the new MMI infotainment system.
The A6 will be redesigned in late 2017 in Europe, at which point it will grow larger and more luxurious to accommodate the upward shift of the A4. Audi plans to offer an e-tron version in the U.S. if the others do well.
A7: The four-door coupe-profile variant of the A6 is scheduled to get a similar update to its cousin at roughly the same time, currently scheduled for the third quarter of 2015. It is expected to be redesigned in early 2018 in Europe.
A8: Audi's flagship sedan got a facelift in 2014, featuring a new fascia and lighting updates. The first cars arrived in U.S. dealerships this summer.
A full redesign will take place in 2017, when Audi is expected to push the car further upscale with cutting-edge technology, including autonomous driving features. It will offer an e-tron powertrain; the one in development is a plug-in diesel hybrid with wireless charging. The flagship sedan will also debut a new styling direction for the Audi brand, which will be evolutionary due to the success of the current styling.