Get ready for an onslaught of new vehicles from Audi in 2019
Manufacturers are rushing to electrify. While most have long been working on a transition to battery power, the push has intensified in the past five years.
For the Volkswagen group, the expedience in bringing the technology to market has been catalysed by a debacle that requires no elaboration. The smog of Dieselgate will hang over the automotive monolith for some time. But, to their credit, there is true intent to slowly but surely clear the air.
Audi appears to have taken the baton, tasked as the first in the stable to release a fully electric vehicle in the form of the e-tron - all lower-case, they insist, just as they have since their appropriation of "quattro" all those decades ago.
The model made its global debut at an event in San Francisco last month.
We had the opportunity to get closer to the model at a brand-experience event held by the company in Singapore two weeks ago.
The exhibition also afforded a chance to glean more about Audi's product plans for SA next year, putting an end to the drought it has experienced locally in 2018.
The e-tron is on the list. A driving range of over 400km on a full charge is purported by the carmaker. Dimensionally, the model closely resembles its sibling, the fossil-fuelled Q5. But electrification means a more spacious interior - and that interior, as expected, reflects the futuristic nature of the e-tron's make-up.
Shattering the silence of the battery-powered sport-utility vehicle is the RS4, a nameplate that enthusiasts will be happy to see back.
Except, it will only be available in Avant form - the brand's lingo for wagon. Despite South Africans' distaste for the estate car, we think more than a few are going to clamour for a slice of this practical performer.
The latest A6 will also rally for its share of followers, though they may struggle to distinguish the new car from the outgoing one.
In fairness, subtlety has always been an A6 hallmark - and indeed a hallmark of Audi design on the whole. But one wonders whether more could have been done here.
Then we have the A8, whose future-forward, autonomous capabilities will have Jason Statham out of a job. We witnessed first-hand how adept its electromechanical suspension system is at keeping the body entirely level over speed bumps.
But neither the e-tron, RS4, A6 or A8 are going to fatten the brand's bottom-line in SA. Instead, the model that looks poised to succeed at that task is the Q8 - and South Africans were given a brief glimpse of this at the recent Festival of Motoring.
The newcomer will battle against the likes of the X6 and GLE-Class in the ambit of sport-utility vehicles that also aspire to being coupés. That it looks like a variation of the Lamborghini Urus from some angles is probably no coincidence.