Much like their German colleagues and rivals at Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Audi is also heading into a busy year riddled with complete overhauls and mid-cycle facelifts across its entire range. 2019 Audi models should help the brand establish a stronger foothold in the premium car market, especially since 2017 didn’t exactly fulfill their expectations. While all other German premium brands have recorded a strong single-digit increase in global sales for 2017, the Volkswagen Group’s division recorded a marginal increase of 0.6 percent. Their global sales grew from 1,871,350 units in 2016 to 1,878,100 in 2017. U.S. sales reflect the rising trend in Audi sales, just with a bit more vigor. The Germans have sold 210,213 units during 2016 and 226,511 models during 2017 in the U.S., which is an increase of 7.75 percent.
The Germans are hoping to surpass the 2 million units threshold by 2020 (which their main rivals have already done) and MY 2019 will be instrumental in that push. With new models just around the corner, here’s what to buy and what to stay away from when it comes to Audi in 2019. New and redesigned models have a clear advantage in our book, whereas it’s probably a smart move to skip their more outdated offerings. At least until they too receive their much-needed makeovers.
What’s Hot In the New 2019 Audi Lineup
The all-new fifth-generation Audi A6 is one of the most advertised new Audi cars for 2019. The 2019 Audi A6 is a vanguard of the fifth generation that’s supposed to define a new design language for the company. Although, to be honest, we don’t really see anything revolutionary here. We were able to discern that since the executive car’s presentation already took place. The next-gen A6 has made its world debut at the 2018 Geneva motor show, while its American debut took place at the 2018 New York auto show. Despite being built on the new MLB Evo architecture, the new A6 retains its predecessor’s dimensions, more or less. The car is only 0.5 inches (or less) larger in length, width, and height.
The U.S. market specs reveal only one available engine at the launch. Said powerplant will be a 3.0L turbocharged V6 capable of producing 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque paired with a 7-speed automatic. A smaller 2.0L turbo four should also join the lineup by the time the 2019 A6 gets into production, while other alternatives are still unconfirmed. What the Germans did confirm, is the fact the new A6 now sports a 48-volt mild hybrid system that should help save some fuel in the long run. The rest will likely be revealed as we zero-in on its market launch date later this year.
2019 RS5 Sportback
Instead of redesigning the A5 and S5 line of coupes and convertibles which have been on the market since 2016, the Germans have decided to give us something new. Enter the Audi RS5 Sportback – a high-performance 4-door fastback member of the family. The RS5 Sportback might not be a run-of-the-mill hatchback, but it still puts even the hottest of them to shame by delivering 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of twist thanks to a Porsche Panamera-sourced 2.9L twin-turbo V6 engine. Moreover, the RS5 costs more than your average hot hatch with stickers starting from around $75,000. The new Audi RS5 Sportback should be able to hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.6 seconds and max out at 174 mph if fitted with the optional Dynamic Plus package. Every model comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission and the Quattro all-wheel drive system.
The RS5 doesn’t differ that much from its 4-door S5 sportback and 2-door Rs5 Coupe donors with whom it shares chassis and powertrain respectively. It’s similar with design as the new model only differs in minor exterior details compared to the less powerful S5 fastback. These details include a slightly wider grille, 1.2 inches of additional width thanks to more pronounced wheel arches, and a number of blacked-out elements across the body. Compared to the coupe, on the other hand, it gains 2.4 inches in wheelbase and 1.1-inch of roofline. And, of course, an additional set of doors.
Although the compact Q3 made its global debut way back in 2011, the U.S.-spec model was revealed during MY 2015 at the same time the overseas models received their mid-cycle update. MY 2019 is finally bringing a long-awaited makeover as the second-generation Q3 has already been spotted testing multiple times. However, we shouldn’t expect a groundbreaking turn in design development from what’ll essentially be a scaled-down version of the larger Q5 that was launched in 2017. The new Q3 will instead be brought up to standards set by the latest Audi crossovers and SUVs.
The powertrain lineup will likely be carried over which basically means the U.S.-spec models will be limited to a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder with around 200 horsepower. This goes only for the conventional Audi Q3, but the lineup might be expanded by the time 2019 arrives. Overseas buyers enjoy the luxury of being able to order a more powerful RS Q3 model which currently makes up to 362 ponies. Needless to say, the RS Q3 would be a more-than-welcome addition to the underdeveloped U.S. lineup. There’s still plenty of time before the new Audi Q3 reaches North American dealerships in late 2018 or early 2019. Other info will likely be revealed closer to the release date.
The beloved sports car instantly became one of industry’s best offerings in the segment when it arrived in 2006. More than a decade and two generations later, it’s still going strong. The second generation, which was unveiled in 2015, is ripe for a mid-cycle makeover, and that’s exactly what’s happening for MY 2019. The sharp sports car will only receive some minor cosmetic changes to its front and rear fascias, and an updated interior with the stellar Audi Virtual Cockpit infotainment system. No powertrain updates are apparently planned, despite some strong rumors about the new R8 V6 flying around.
Although speculations about a 500-horsepower twin-turbo V6 version of the Audi R8 have been circulating for months, an Audi spokesperson recently told R&T that such a model isn’t in the company’s plans. Not yet, at least. This means the 533-horsepower R8 V10 and its 602-hp V10 Plus counterpart will remain the only two available models. There’s still no info on the possibility of the R8 packing more heat, which means the engines will likely remain intact. The V6 rumor doesn’t come as a surprise, though. Ever since the second generation arrived and discarded the V8 version of the sports car, people have been demanding a corresponding replacement. A twin-turbocharged V6 would certainly make sense economy-wise, but the Audi performance division already have their hands full at the moment.
The flagship model of the rich Audi lineup is yet another one of their fully redesigned vehicles for MY 2019. The fourth generation Audi A8 is actually already in production, and readily available overseas. The U.S.-spec A8, however, will only arrive during late 2018 as the 2019 model. As its flagship status mandates, the new A8 will stand out as the most technologically advanced Audi production vehicle yet. The Germans will fit it with nothing less than Level 3 autonomous capability which enables hands-free cruising at speeds up to 37 mph and self-parking. Needless to say, the 2017 infotainment system of the year winner – the Audi Virtual Cockpit – will be fully unlocked regardless of a choice of trim.
The next-gen Audi A8 is also 1.3 inches longer and 0.7 inches higher than its predecessor while shrinking marginally (0.1 inches) in width. Only a 340-horsepower 3.0L turbocharged V6 has been confirmed for the initial few weeks of production. A 460-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0L V8 will join it soon after and both engines will receive limited hybrid assistance via a 48-volt electrical system. Both powerplants will also share the same 8-speed ZF automatic with paddle shifters. Furthermore, the famous Quattro all-wheel drive configuration is standard across the lineup. Like before, the entry-level model will start from well-north of $80,000, while fully-stacked top tier units will crack the six-digit figure with ease. At least they’ll come with all the latest technology including the adaptive cruise control, and a number of advanced electronic safety gear.
Unlike the above-mentioned flagship sedan which was fully redesigned, Audi’s new flagship crossover is appearing for the very first time. The all-new Audi Q8 does share plenty of innards with the A8, however. Apart from sharing a very similar interior, the new Q8 will also incorporate some of A8’s exterior bits like its sharper headlights, grille, and tail-lights. Although it’ll be a couple of inches shorter than the current top dog Q7, the Q8 will still add as much as 3 inches in width. It’ll also discard the Q7’s third row of seats altogether, making it a dedicated luxury crossover with seating for four or five. In other words, despite being slightly shorter than the Q7, the Q8 will definitely serve as the German automaker’s flagship crossover from now on.
Set to debut in Hong Kong this June, the all-new Audi Q8 will likely rely on Q7’s engine range. This means that the base engine spot is likely reserved for a 252-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder. On the other hand, the next step up will likely be a 354-horsepower 3.0L turbocharged V6 instead of the Q7’s own 333-horsepower 3.0L supercharged V6. Later on, the Germans will also add a hybrid e-tron version of the crossover, whereas the performance-oriented SQ8 and RS Q8 still haven’t been announced. At least not for the U.S. market. Since the new Audi Q8 shares the same platform as the likes of the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga, and Porsche Cayenne, I wouldn’t exclude the possibility of it borrowing the Cayenne’s 4.0L twin-turbo V8 and fitting it under one of the aforementioned performance badges.
2019 e-tron Quattro
Not only will the 2019 Audi lineup be bolstered by the all-new flagship Q8 crossover, but by another fully electric and slightly smaller e-tron Quattro. First presented at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show, the e-tron Quattro Concept already looks like a solid foundation for a production car. In fact, the production version likely won’t wander too far from the initial concept design-wise. Moreover, it should borrow some cues from the aforementioned Q8. This goes for the interior as well. Even the name will remain intact even though initial reports suggested it’ll slot between the Q5 and Q7 with the Q6 being a perfect match considering existing Audi nomenclature.
As far as its powertrain goes – which is incidentally the e-tron Quattro’s main resource – the all-electric crossover will be powered by no fewer than three electric motors and a 95 kWh battery pack. The setup, which should generate up to 429 horsepower, should also provide around 300 miles of range on a single charge. All impressive figures at the moment, but considering how quickly things change in the auto industry these days, the final production version might offer even more than that. We shall soon find out.
What’s Not In the New 2019 Audi Lineup
The entry-level luxury car is enjoying its fifth generation as of 2017. With the Germans being busy redesigning their lineup on all fronts, the relatively fresh A4 will have to wait. The new model will likely share the flagship A8’s cues, but the new model almost certainly won’t arrive before 2020. That would make the upcoming Audi A4 the ultimate pre-facelift model and probably not the best of choices when it comes to compact executive cars. Especially considering all the upgrades its successor will most certainly bring.
Of course, a compact will never experience the full extent of tech available in flagship models. That way the A4 will never be on-par with the A8 in terms of available features. One could argue that a few additional advanced options coupled with updated design aren’t enough to justify the wait. Updated powertrains and new models, on the other hand, might just be. After it experiences a mid-cycle refresh, the A4’s lineup might be bolstered by a hybrid model. Even a mild-hybrid system found across the upcoming Audi range could be worth the wait.
The second-gen compact luxury crossover debuted in 2017 just like its platform-sharing sibling the A4/A5. Being practically almost new, it’s hard to build a case against buying one. Then again, MY 2019 will bring a number of updates to the Audi crossover/SUV lineup and the Q5 will fail to benefit from most of them. This is why a mid-cycle refresh might come early in Q5’s case, but still not early enough to affect the 2019 models. In other words, it’s probably better to wait if a new Audi Q5 is your vehicle of choice.
The Q5 powertrain lineup is very simple at the moment. In fact, it’s hardly a lineup at all since only a 252-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder is the only engine making it. This will almost certainly remain the case throughout MY 2019, so there’s nothing enticing on that front neither. An e-tron, diesel or even SQ5 would certainly stir things up a bit, but that’s not the Q5’s job, it would seem.
The second generation Audi Q7 arrived in 2016 overseas, while the U.S.-spec model followed a year later. It’s still too early for a revised model, and though the Q7 is a great crossover, the upcoming Q8 might still be a better choice. Being somewhat of a niche vehicle, the Q8 probably won’t water down the Q7’s sales too much, but it’ll still be interesting to see how many people decide to go with it at the expense of the Q7 simply because of its more advanced design and tech-savvy nature.
Unlike the smaller Q5, the Q7 does offer a couple of engine choices. A 252-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder is one, while a 333-horsepower 3.0L supercharged V6 is another. Both are offered with a mandatory all-wheel drive system. With the introduction of the e-tron Quattro in 2019, it’s unlikely that the Q7 will receive a hybrid option anytime soon. This renders its powertrain lineup pretty much complete at the moment. Without any major visual changes as well, it’ll practically become one of the most outdated Audi vehicles in 2019 which is beyond ironic since it’s only been on the market for a couple of years.