When Stephan Winkelmann took over for Audi Sport, after leaving as the CEO of Lamborghini, we expected Audi Sport to start creating more exciting and dynamic cars. Coming from the most flamboyant supercar maker in automotive history, we thought Winkelmann would bring some of that to Audi Sport. However, he seems to be bringing a much more logical and tempered approach to the brand. He also seems to be focusing a lot on the brand itself, rather than just the cars.
“Someday, I want a customer to say “I’m buying an Audi Sport”, not “I’m buying an Audi RS car.” When we achieve that, we’re on the right track.” Winkelmann told Top Gear about making Audi Sport as big a name as Mercedes-AMG and BMW M.
To do so, Winkelmann wants to expand the lineup of Audi Sport. So expect some RS SUVs and electric cars to help round out the brand’s model portfolio. When asked about whether Audi Sport would be making an RS SUV or hardcore R8 first, Winkelmann claimed “The first one, and I’ll tell you why. Once you create a brand, you have to create a line-up. We have the R8, and we will do derivatives in different directions. But we have to create a line-up which is more worldwide-sellable than today’s.”
The latest Audi Sport model to debut was the Audi RS5 Coupe and it was met with different results than most journalists expected. However, Winkelmann says that Audi Sport listens to feedback from journalists when developing cars but focuses more on what it thinks customers will want later down the line. “For me, it’s both feedback and new development. We listen to what journalists write, but also the feedback from the market. Even if you criticize us, we might continue to do something not because we don’t think you have a point, but because the market says differently.”
“But we have to be ahead of what the people think. We are not thinking about what people want today – we’re thinking about what they’ll want five or ten years down the road.”
So expect some new models and exciting things to come from Audi Sport soon. While it won’t be exactly what you were hoping for, the brand is growing and will start growing its model portfolio.