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The Best of Audi 2021

The Good and Bad of the 2021 Audi Lineup

Audi e-tron GT

Audi is the third-best among the well-established German luxury automakers in terms of sales, just behind its arch rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW in first and second spots respectively. Not counting 2018, Audi’s sales have been increasing year in, year out, however. In fact, unlike its rivals from Stuttgart and Munich, the Ingolstadt-based company’s U.S. sales have almost tripled over the last decade. The 2021 Audi lineup is expected to help the brand in catching up on its rivals.

Speaking of numbers, Audi’s U.S sales came to a stop at 223,323 units in 2018 which is an insignificant drop from their best-ever year on the U.S. market (2017) when they had marketed 226,511 vehicles. Judging by the first three quarters of 2019, Audi is in for another year of declining sales, and major changes might be necessary in 2020 and 2021 if they’re to reverse this newfound trend.

On a global scale, Audi has delivered 1,812,500 vehicles in 2018 which is also a slight 3.5 percent drop compared to 2017 when they had sold 1,878,105 cars. The biggest disappointment was their second largest and home market in Germany where sales plummeted by 11.5 percent. However, this downturn was more than offset in China which is the Bavarian company’s largest single market by far. Indeed, European sales in total dropped by no less than 13.5 percent helping reduce the gap between the entire European and Chinese market to only 80,000 units.

Here’s what to pay attention to when it comes to the 2021 Audi range.

What’s Hot in the New 2021 Audi Lineup

09. A3

The smallest Audi car on the U.S. market hasn’t been properly updated since the 2017 facelift and it’s been running on the same underpinnings since 2013. Audi has been pushing back the A3’s redesign for far too long in order to work on more important models but enough’s been enough. The 2021 Audi A3 will be completely redesigned and not a moment too soon as its rivals have already undergone the same process.

The redesigned 2021 Audi A3 sedan finally becomes a more stylish version of itself thanks to a larger and wider grill that now sits lower to the ground giving the car a sportier look overall. In fact, changes are similar to those seen on the redesigned A4 sedan and wagon. The A3 is also available in hatchback form overseas and there’s a slight possibility we’ll finally see it stateside albeit exclusively in a plug-in hybrid form.

Inside, the refreshed A3 also gets the next-gen Audi styling with a revised infotainment system and a larger touchscreen display, but the level of available equipment remains mostly unchanged. Although the A3 offers some advanced safety features from the get-go, most of them are reserved for higher grades.

Powertrains should once again be shared with the Volkswagen Golf- Mark 8 this time. A 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder provides the A3 with either 184 hp or 228 hp but the more potent S3 and RS 3 models will be capable of cranking up moch more than that. The former could be making around 300 horsepower while the latter shouldn’t be arriving with less than 400 ponies – courtesy of a larger 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine.

The redesigned Audi A3 should be available from the second part of 2020 as a 2021 model with initial prices starting from under $35,000. The most potent RS 3, on the other hand, likely won’t come much cheaper than $60,000.

Audi A3 test mule

08. 2021 e-tron Sportback

The first fully-electric SUV from Audi was expected to bring about an electric renaissance to the German luxury brand, but its sales have been dwindling ever since its inception back in mid-2019. Although that isn’t the reason for e-tron’s lineup expansion which was pre-planned, it clearly suggests that Audi’s conventional lineup gets much more credit in the U.S. than hybrids and EVs. In any case, the upcoming 2021 Audi e-tron Sportback should help the nameplate garner more sales going forward but probably not to the initially anticipated extent.

The coupe-like version of Audi’s first EV crossover sports a fastback roofline which renders it the A7’s look-alike, albeit with more ground clearance. Other than that, most of SUV model’s cues have been reused which doesn’t come as a surprise. Don’t expect any differences south of the beltline.

Interior too is largely shared between the two models. All the trims and design cues are the same including the Audi Virtual Cockpit display, and so are the available convenience and technology features. Advanced driver’s aids are offered in abundance and the only thing that’s in deficiency is the rear passenger headroom.

The Audi e-tron’s powertrain consists of two electric motors (one upon each axle) and a large 95-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that together provide 355 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque most of the time. The Sport mode, however, offers up to 402 ponies and 490 lb-ft of torque as a momentary boost. One of e-tron’s biggest disadvantages over its rivals is its mediocre range of just over 200 miles. This remains the case with the Sportback version too.

As mentioned above, the coupe-like Sportback version of the e-tron SUV is expected to reach the dealers no later than the Summer of 2020. It’ll be slightly more expensive than its SUV counterpart which itself starts from around $75,000. Expect up to $5,000 premium on that price tag.

Audi e-tron Sportback concept
Audi e-tron Sportback concept pictured

07. 2021 Q5

With just shy of 70,000 units sold in the U.S. during 2018, the compact luxury crossover makes up almost a third of company’s sales here. That itself is reason enough for constant updates as Audi can’t afford to let its best-selling model fall behind the competition in any aspect. The 2021 Audi Q5 will hence receive its first substantial facelift – exactly three years after the second generation models made their debut.

The refreshed Audi Q5 will be design in line with the remainder of updated Audi models which translates to sharper edges up front and around the back. Incidentally, frontal and rear fascias will be the two focal points of the upcoming facelift. Different grille, lights, and bumpers will be the first changes everyone will be able to notice.

Interior is remaining mostly unchanged, but the refreshed models do get a larger infotainment display. Moreover, infotainment’s touchpad controller is now gone hence the only way to interact with it is via the new touchscreen. The level of available advanced electronic safety gear will remain mostly unchanged as well and so should optional convenience and comfort features.

Nothing new is expected in the refreshed Q5’s powertrain department. The base models will carry over with their 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engines which yield a healthy 248 ponies and 273 lb-ft of torque. The more powerful Audi SQ5 uses a larger and more powerful 3.0L turbocharged V6 with 349 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque. Finally, the recently introduced Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid combines the smaller of two engines with a 14.1-kWh battery and an electric motor for a combined output of 367 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of twist.

The refreshed Audi Q5 should be presented at one of the upcoming auto shows and its prices are expected to remain intact. You’ll still need more than $43,000 for an entry-level model, while the performance-oriented SQ5 warrants an additional $10,000. The plug-in hybrid starts from the same region as the SQ5, but is eligible for a $6,712 federal tax credit and additional $1,500 in rebate if you’re living in California.

2021 Audi Q5

06. 2021 e-tron GT

Another one of fully-electric Audi models is arriving in time for MY 2021. The e-tron GT will, however, be a different kind of a beast compared to the e-tron SUV and Sportback. This 4-door fastback sedan has been developed alongside the Porsche Taycan and will have a lot in common with its stablemate. It’s actually one of the most exciting models to come from Audi in the last few years.

The 2021 Audi e-tron GT will sport the German company’s newest design language and of all Audi cars, should resemble the A7 the most. It, however, rides on the same chassis as the Porsche Taycan and has most in common with it. Being an all-electric car, it’ll sport a few design cues unique to it compared to the rest of the Audi range but we’ll have to wait for the official presentation in order to find out more about them.

Inside, the e-tron GT deviates slightly from company’s established theme, but yet again changes aren’t expected to be of a significant margin. A slightly different cabin layout with emphasis on digital gauges and displays is to be expected. Otherwise, its range of driving aids and advanced safety features should be on-par with that of the e-tron SUV.

Both the Porsche Taycan’s and the Audi e-tron GT concept car’s power comes from a 90-kWh battery pack and a duo of electric motors (one upon each axle). The mentioned concept car was more than happy to sqyeeze 590 horsepower out of the mentioned powertrain system and we haven’t got any doubts that the production model will be able to do the same. Also, the e-tron GT is capable of providing up to 248 miles of range on a single charge according to the new European WLTP standards which are more strict than the old NEDC cycle. Of course, much like its stablemate the Taycan, the Audi e-tron GT too will be 800-volt charging compatible.

The Audi e-tron GT’s production should commence later during 2020 with first deliveries likely to be completed early in 2021. Prices still haven’t been disclosed but expect them to be similar to those of the e-tron SUV which starts from around $75,000 as already mentioned above.

Audi e-tron GT

05. 2021 A8

The flagship Audi sedan’s fourth generation reached the U.S. shores during MY 2019 and isn’t expected to receive any substantial changes until at least 2022. However, the lineup is set for an expansion in 2021 with the all-new ultra-luxurious model entering the fray in order to fight the Mercedes-Benz Maybach S600. Unlike the Maybach, however, Audi’s take on the ultra-luxurious sedan won’t sport an additionally stretched wheelbase and could be adopting the Horch moniker.

Design-wise, the A8 for 2021 won’t differ at all compared to the currently available models. The aforementioned new range topper will obviously get larger unique wheels and a few unique details to differentiate it from the rest of the plebeian A8 range, but that’s about it.

The regular A8 models will continue to offer a luxurious interior with an emphasis on technology. They aren’t as lavish as the Mercedes-Benz S Class, but they are more affordable to begin with and offer the most advanced of active safety gear available at the moment. A remote parking mode is available as an option and so is night vision. Likewise, the all-new A8 Horch won’t be as lavish as the Maybach, but also shouldn’t be out of reach of as many buyers as the ultra-luxury S Class.

The powertrain lineup consists of 3.0L twin-turbo V6 and a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 mills – both of which are assisted by a mild-hybrid system. The former generates 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, while the latter cranks up 453 hp and 487 lb-ft. Also, both are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and come in a mandatory Quattro all-wheel drive configuration. The upcoming ultra-luxurious A8 could be adopting the VW Group’s 6.0L twin-turbo W12 straight from Bentleys which should help it raise close to 600 horsepower.

The Audi A8 will retain its prices going into 2021 with entry-level models starting from around $85,000. The optional V8 setup requires almost $12,000 more, and the ultra-luxurious models fitted with mighty W12’s will push the price deep into the six digit territory.

Audi A8

04. 2021 Q4 e-tron

The fact the e-tron moniker can be seen more and more often across the Audi range tells a lot about the German company’s plans for the future. Electrification is mandatory for every car maker that considers itself serious nowadays, and while the larger and more expensive models struggle to attract a significant number of buyers, the compact models shouldn’t have the same issue. The Q4 e-tron is one such relatively affordable compact luxury EV crossover.

From design’s standpoint, the Q4 e-tron is expected to be a scaled-down Audi e-tron SUV. At least the concept car follows in its larger sibling’s footsteps all the way down to the color. Expect different pillars and wheel arches, together with plastic cladding under the latter as it’s often the case with smaller crossovers.

Interior will also feature company’s hallmark theme with shifted emphasis towards digital gauges and touchscreen displays. Given it’s a slightly more affordable model than its bigger brother, the Q4 e-tron might not offer the full extent of advanced driver’s aids, however. At least not in entry-level trims. Interior space should be on-par with the Q5 which is more than comfortable for four adults and their possessions.

The Q4 e-tron’s powertrain pairs an 82-kWh lithium-ion battery with couple of electric motors driving each axle. The combined system output amounts to around 300 horsepower which, together with instantly available torque, enables the compact EV crossover to hit 60 mph from a standstill in 6.3 seconds. On top of that, Audi is promising up to 280 miles of range on a single charge together with fast charging capability.

The 2021 Audi Q4 e-tron should reach the dealerships in late 2020 or early 2021. Its prices haven’t been disclosed yet but considering it’ll compete with the Tesla Model Y among others, it’s fair to expect it’ll start somewhere in a region between $50,000 and $60,000. Also, don’t forget that, unlike Tesla, Audi is still eligible for a substantial federal tax credit.

2021 Audi Q4 e-tron concept

03. 2021 RS6 Avant

One of the best wagons money can buy is finally available for purchase in the U.S. The RS6 Avant has been a forbidden fruit for far too long prior to its late arrival to the U.S. market, but it’s better late than never. Come to think of it, the performance-oriented wagon comes at the both the worst possible and opportune moment. On the one hand, wagons are a dying segment these days, but on the other, the Avant is more powerful and better than ever before.

The RS6, of course, shares most of its underpinnings with the luxury A6 sedan but differs in many ways regardless. Even some of the exterior elements are different – not to mention the obvious design differences that stem from their respective body styles. Yet, the RS6 Avant is undoubtedly the next-gen Audi car judging by its large hexagonal mesh grille, thin headlamps, and large side air intakes.

Inside, the RS6 Avant offers up to 59 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. A standard list of safety and convenience features is quite long and includes ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, and adaptive cruise control among others. This doesn’t really come as a surprise considering its six-digit sticker.

The beating heart of the Audi RS6 Avant produces a hefty 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of rotational force. The 4.0L twin-turbo V8 mill has a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to thank for that. Furthermore, the 4,750-pound heavy wagon is more than capable of sprinting to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. All that power is being sent to the ground (all four corners) via an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

The Audi RS6 Avant should reach the dealerships by mid-2020 either as a late 2020 or an early 2021 model. In any case, it’ll be one of the best Audi vehicles money can buy in 2021 provided you’re able and willing to part with a hefty sum of $113,000 before delivery charges, insurance, and extras.

Audi RS6 Avant

02. 2021 A4

The compact luxury sedan’s fifth-generation has been with us since MY 2017 which means the time has come for a more substantial facelift than the one it’s received in 2019. This makeover will be carried away for MY 2021 when the entire A4 lineup (including the Allroad wagons and S4 models) is set to receive the next-gen Audi design language.

The above mentioned new design language entails a new grille that’s wider and lower than the one found in currently available models. Thea headlight graphics will also be changed but the layout will otherwise remain the same. Changes are more subtle around the back where tail-lights receive a thin chrome separator and diffuser gets integrated with reflectors.

Inside, the facelifted Audi A4 remains mostly intact but a new touchscreen display reminds us that the compact has actually undergone a mid-cycle refresh. The touchpad controller is gone and the screen itself has grown in size. Quality of materials remains high but some would argue that the real luxury lineup in Audi starts one step above the A4. That’s because the entry-level models aren’t as lavish as you’d expect them to be and neither do they come with the expected level of standard advanced safety features.

Most A4’s use a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine which returns either 188 or 248 horsepower but these outputs might be raised after the mid-term refresh when the mild-hybrid system finally makes its way to the compact executive car. The more powerful S4 models utilize a 3.0L turbocharged V6 with up to 349 ponies. After axing a manual gearbox, the Audi A4 now offers exclusively automatics.

The facelifted Audi A4 is expected to arrive as an early 2021 model with prices reflecting those of currently available models. The entry-level will require just under $40,000, while the S4 guise warrants at least $11,000 atop of that.

Audi A4

01. 2021 RS Q8

After introducing the diesel-powered RS7 and RS8 TDI models in overseas markets, the time has finally come for the Audi Sport division to treat its U.S. customers with a performance-oriented large SUV. The choice fell on the flagship RS Q8 which will undoubtedly give its competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz a run for their money.

Design-wise, the forthcoming RS Q8 retains the conventional Q8 SUV’s layout but gets the standard beefier wheels and brakes sticking from behind them, a revised splitter and diffuser, a hexagonal grille, larger air intakes, and different exhausts. Not to mention the RS Q8 badging which should point out what’s under the hood to unsuspecting passers by if all of the aforementioned hasn’t already.

The carryover them carries over inside as well but the ultimate performance version of the flagship Audi SUV still gets corresponding materials which include suede leather and metallic accents among others. Being a range-topper, the Audi RS Q8 will also sport a wide array of both convenience and tech features, most of which should be available from the get-go.

Nothing has been officially confirmed as of yet regarding the RS Q8’s engine. However, we’d be surprised if Audi offered anything but its currently most potent 4.0L twin-turbo V8 mill which is more than capable of putting up around 600 horsepower. Even the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid’s system with an electric motor shouldn’t be excluded but the former option is more likely at this point.

Expect the Audi RS Q8 to bow down within the next few months and arrive to dealerships at some point in 2020. It should be priced perilously close to the $100,000 mark but still on the right side of the psychological barrier.

Audi RS Q8 test mule

What’s Not in the New 2021 Audi Lineup

01. 2021 TT

The most affordable dedicated coupe and roadster lineup from Audi is nearing its end. At least in its current state as the next-gen models are expected to be replaced by an all-electric vehicle. This, however, won’t happen in time for model year 2021 which might just be the TT’s ultimate on this world. Although it might be our last chance to snag one, the compact coupe and roadster will be rather aged by then having last been redesigned back in 2014.

The Audi TT won’t be changed from design’s standpoint in its last year on the market – that much is clear. What Audi might do is to introduce a special edition model to commemorate its passing. This is still relatively far away and the Germans still haven’t disclosed any official details in that regard.

The compact luxury coupe and roadster will remain the same on the inside as well. One of its biggest downsides is a lack of any standard advanced safety gear. Blind-spot monitors and lane-keeping assist can be ordered, while only a rearview camera and parking sensors come as standard. That’s it, however, as the Audi TT doesn’t offer anything more advanced in terms of driving aids than that.

At least the TT comes in all three Audi sets of tunes. The base models use a 228-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, while the TTS units utilize a 280-horsepower version of the same engine. The most potent Audi TT RS, on the other hand, uses a larger 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine. This unit cranks up a hefty 394 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of rotational force. All models are paired with 7-speed dual-clutch automatics and come with mandatory all-wheel drive.

The base Audi TT coupe starts from $45,500, while the drop-top version requires $3,500 more. At the same time, the TTS and TT RS coupes cost $54,500 and $66,900 respectively but they cant be obtained in performance-oriented guises.

Audi TT

Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much!