Just like fellow German manufacturers Mercedes and BMW, Audi has an absolutely massive range these days. As well as the dizzying number of models, names like ‘Sportback,’ ‘Avant,’ and ‘S Line’ are thrown around with abandon, and matters aren’t exactly helped by the fact that a lot of the cars look rather similar.
However, there’s no need to worry. We’re here to steer you through the madness with this handy guide to the current Audi range!
If you want a properly hot version of a run-of-the-mill Audi, you want one of these. RS - which stands for Renn Sport (racing sport) - cars are produced by Audi subsidiary quattro GmbH at a factory in Neckarsulm. Once upon a time just one RS model of Audi was made at a time, making them more exclusive, but the German company has since changed this policy. The first RS model was the 80-based RS2 Avant, which was produced in conjunction with Porsche.
A tell-tale sign that you’re looking at an RS - other than the prolific badging - is the exhaust. RS cars tend to have twin oval tailpipes, apart from the RSQ3, which has a single oval pipe.
If you can’t stretch to an RS, you can always have the next best thing: an S. Unlike the RS cars, these are built in the same factory and on the same production line as ‘regular’ Audis, but they’re still very quick. The S3, for example, packs a 296bhp 2.0-litre TFSI engine.
As with RS cars, you can tell it’s an S by the exhaust. All current Audi S cars have a quad-exit exhaust, even the diesel SQ5 and the tiny S1.
Not to be confused with full-on S cars, S Line is merely a trim level which includes lots of sporty bits both inside and out, plus firmer suspension. Think of it as Audi’s equivelant of BMW M Sport or Merc’s AMG Line trim packages.
When it comes to Audis, one doesn’t buy a five-door hatch, one buys a Sportback. The A1 and A3 can be specced as Sportbacks, while the A7 - which looks like a swoopy saloon - is only available as a hatchback, therefore is dubbed the A7 Sportback.
When it comes to estates, Audi also has a fancy name in hand: Avant.
As you’ve probably gathered from the name, the A1 is the baby of the Audi range. It’s in the ‘supermini’ or ‘B-Segment,’ which means it’s about the size of a Fiesta, although with the upmarket Audi badge slapped on the front, it’s more of a rival for the Mini hatch. It sits on VW Group’s PQ25 platform, also used by the Polo and the Seat Ibiza, and is available as a three-door hatch, or a five-door Sportback. The hottest version is the S1 (below).
If you want something about the size of a Ford Focus or VW Golf, the A3 is your Audi. The current one sits on VW Group’s new MQB platform (Modularer Querbaukasten, which translates to modular transversal toolkit) which will eventually underpin almost every transverse-engined VAG product.
It’s available as a three-door, Sportback, cabriolet and now a saloon. The faster RS3 came as a Sportback only, but is expected in saloon form soon.
Arch rival to the BMW 3-series, the Audi A4 sits above the A3 saloon in the range. It’s available as a four-door saloon or five-door Avant, and if you fancy splashing out there are hot S and RS versions available with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 and naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 respectively. It has a longitudinally-mounted engine, so sits on VW’s MLB (Modularer Längsbaukasten, which translates as Modular Longitudinal Matrix) platform.
A4 saloon a bit boring? The A5 is its sexier coupe and convertible brother. To add a little extra confusion into the mix, this coupe version is also available with a few extra doors in the form of the five-door A5 Sportback. Like the BMW 3-series Gran Coupe, it’s a bit of a niche within a niche, the idea being that you get the prettier coupe lines of the A5 with a little more practicality. It has the same V6 and V8 S and RS options as the A4 in coupe and convertible form, while the Sportback has an S option but no RS.
For those after something a little larger and a little posher, Audi has the A6. It’s available as a saloon or Avant, as well as an S and RS with a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 (RS in Avant form only). It’s based on the same MLB platform as the A4, and is a rival for the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-Class.
So, if the A5 is a coupe version of the A4, the A7 must be a coupe version of the A6, right? Yes. Sort of. As mentioned earlier, the A7 is only available as a five-door Sportback, rather than the two-door bodystyle we’d normally associate with coupes. So when Audi say ‘coupe,’ what its really referring to is actually coupe-like styling. We can cope with Audi twisting the name ‘coupe’ a little, as the A7 is a stunner, particularly in twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 S and RS form. It rivals the likes of the Mercedes CLS and the BMW 6-series Gran Coupe
The largest car to sit on the MLB platform is Audi’s luxobarge, the A8. It’s available as a saloon only, and as an S with a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8. Think of it as Audi’s answer to the BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-Class.
The smallest vehicle in Audi’s SUV range, the Q3 sits on the PQ35 platform. Unlike most other Audis, it’s available as an RS with a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-pot, but not as an S model. It rivals the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA.
One size up from the Q3 is the Q5. Based on the MLB platform, it rivals the BMW X3 and Mercedes M Class. It’s available as an S, but unlike any other S Audi, the SQ5 is actually a diesel, packing a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 oil burner.
The Q7 is Audi’s gigantic flagship SUV. It sits on the VW PL71 platform, and is intended to tempt people away from the BMW X5 and Mercedes GL. There’s no S or RS version, but in some markets you can spec a 5.0-litre V12 diesel with a ridiculous 500bhp and 737lb ft of torque. Cripes.
Currently underpinned by the PQ35 platform, an entirely new MQB version of Audi’s sports car is about to be rolled out. It’ll be available as a two-door coupe and eventually a cabriolet, but Audi has hinted at other future variants. The hot TT S packs a 2.0-litre TFSI engine, while the hotter TT RS features a 2.5-litre turbo five-pot.
At the business end of the range is Audi’s mid-engined supercar: the R8. It shares underpinnings with the Lamborghini Gallardo, while the next generation R8 will be on the same platform as the Lamborghini Huracan. It comes with either a 4.2-litre V8, or a 5.2-litre V10.