What Car? met with Audi CEO Rupert Stadler at the launch of the new Audi A8 in Miami, Florida, and took the opportunity to put your questions to him and his team.
Here's what he had to say
Why is so little information available on the upcoming A1 that is apparently due out in the next three months? When can we expect more details, prices, specs, pictures?
When will the Audi A1 hybrid be available and what are the performance details: how far on a charge; acceleration; typical mpg etc?
When does the new Audi A1 go on sale in the UK?
The new Audi A1 goes on sale next September in the UK (we should see official first pics early in the new year ed). _It'll be priced close to the Mini when spec is taken into account, but it will be specced in a way that an Audi should be specced.
It will be the right product to wear the Audi badge and it will be different to rivals in terms of quality, design, touch and style. We'll be treating the customers well and see it as a good opportunity to get younger buyers into the Audi brand.
An A1 hybrid should be launched prior to 2015._
Off-set pedals and Audi ride
Why are the pedals on right-hand-drive A4/Q5 models offset so much to right, to the extent that the footrest gets in the way when you depress the clutch?
Why is Audi's Sport suspension set-up so hard, and why are the pedals of the A4/A5 offset on right-hand-drive models? I would probably buy an A5 Sportback except for these facts.
Why can't you make cars that ride smoothly?
_Like our competitors, we have offset pedals in some of our cars, but that offset isn't as severe as in some of our mainstream German competitors.
In some of our recent cars, the front axle sits ahead of the clutch (or torque converter in an automatic) and the passenger compartment is moved forward, too, so the footwell is sited near a wider part of the gearbox. We don't feel that the offset is unacceptable, but it is something we're looking to improve.
Regarding the ride, ride comfort is subjective. Testing cars in the UK is a regular part of Audi's new-car assessments and a judgement has to be made according to how Audi feels a car should be set up.
We have a low level of negative feedback on ride quality issues in the UK and that's in spite of a high proportion of Audis in the UK being bought with sports suspension and big wheels. We have no plans to have a UK suspension setting, but the UK feedback is considered when coming up with Audi's worldwide setting._
Audi makes great cars in terms of design, fit and finish. When will they improve the quality of the cars and reduce the number of faults. Newer cars such as the A5 appear to have poor reliability.
_There has been no change to the density of the plastics used in the A4 and A5 from previous models, but the surface of the material has changed.
However, there will be improvements in the face-lifted A4, which will be seen before 2012. We mustn't let Audi customers believe that quality standards have slipped._
Audi A6, Q7 and A2
When will you be launching the new A6?
The new A6 will probably be seen before the end of next year, but will go on sale in the UK in early 2011. The new A6-based Audi A7 Sportback will precede the new A6 by a few months.
When will you fit a 'desperately' needed hybrid powertrain to the Q7 petrol and diesel engines to make it appeal specifically to the UK market (ie attractive tax bands)? And when will you compete with other small MPVs and re-fill the void within your company with the much-needed re-launch of the Audi A2?
Mr D Gohil
_There are no plans to bring a hybrid Q7 to the UK in the current car - it'll probably be in the next-generation Q7 that is some years away.
As for the A2, yes, we will make a new A2, but there is no time scale set as yet. When it does arrive, it will be similar in outlook to the old A2: it'll be very high-tech, a technology statement, a bit away from the mainstream and will be priced accordingly._
Could you please confirm the plans for new Q5 models with reduced CO2 emissions? Will there be models available next year with engine stop-start technology, for example ?
You'll be able to buy a Q5 with lower levels of CO2 and stop-start technology within the next 12 months.
Audi vs BMW
Why are BMWs consistently better than Audis in terms of engine CO2 output, quality and driving pleasure?
_Audi has taken a big step forward on CO2. We have announced an A3 with 99 g/km we haven't seen a BMW 1 Series with that level of CO2 output and we were first with a 119g/km car.
In real life, Audi is in better shape [CO2-wise], otherwise we wouldn't be the premium brand leader it must be something Audi is doing well.
We will stick to our Vorsprung Durch Technik philosophy, not have a catch-all marketing claim such as Efficient Dynamics. We're convinced in Vorsprung Durch Technik, we're a dynamic, sporty brand but not necessarily positioned as a green brand. That will come about as a matter of course._