Published May 7, 2008

New Audi A4 makes a splash with $2m launch

Month-long event involves 1,500 prospective customers, owners


AUDI is unveiling the new A4 sedan in its biggest launch event here - a $2 million affair that will span four weeks and involve 1,500 owners and prospective customers.

Sleek: The new A4 is available with two engines, both of which have direct injection for improved fuel economy. Its unveiling at the Changi Exhibition Centre introduces the car to new customers, lets paying clients undergo a safety driving course and gives sales training for staff

The German carmaker is the world's fastest growing premium brand and the A4 is its best-selling model, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of sales. Last year, Audi Singapore registered 957 cars - up 47 per cent from 650 units the previous year.

The lavish launch at the Changi Exhibition Centre began on Monday and comprises three events - the A4 customer event, where owners and potential customers are given an introduction to the new car and its latest features; the Audi Driving Experience, in which customers who have paid $250 undergo a half-day safety driving course under the watchful eye of a group of 10 instructors from Germany; and Audi's regional sales training for staff from Asean countries, Australia, Korea and India.

The new A4 is available with two engines - an all-new 160 hp 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit and a 3.2-litre V6 with 265 hp.

Both engines have direct injection for improved fuel economy and the 1.8-litre gets an eight-speed continuously variable transmission. The V6, on the other hand, is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

'The Audi A4 is the best-selling model for the company, worldwide and in Singapore,' said Reinhold Carl, managing director of Audi Singapore. 'The A4 is a completely new car and for the launch, we wanted a platform for as many customers as possible to test drive the car.'

He added that having the event at a dedicated area with different exercises allow drivers to get a better feel of the car. At the same time, the huge interior of the Changi Exhibition Centre can be used for a presentation, complete with a light show and six cars speeding up and down.

'It is with this in mind that we worked to combine the regional training, customer and media events,' said Mr Carl.

The A4 launch is part of a massive marketing effort that the brand with the four interlocking rings kicked off last year since the arrival of Mr Carl.

In late November, Audi Singapore spent $500,000 on a media blitz to promote its R8 high-performance sports car. It included a high-profile Sunday drive down Orchard Road with three historic cars - an Auto Union Type C model from the 1930s, the Rallye Quattro A2 from the 1980s, and the R8 Le Mans Prototype endurance race car from this decade.

Audi dealer Premium Automobiles is also investing up to $5 million to refurbish its showroom on 9 Leng Kee Road.

When completed in the third quarter, it will sport the Audi corporate identity look and include features such as a fully customised all-glass car-lift, said to be a first in Singapore.

But the renovated building will still be an interim measure because Audi Singapore is intent on finding a bigger site for a new flagship showroom that incorporates the manufacturer's 'terminal architecture' design.

In 2008, Audi Singapore's sales target is 1,100 cars.

'Audi had a strong start with sales of 306 cars in Q1 - a 60 per cent increase over the same period last year,' said Mr Carl. 'So for the Singapore market, I am still optimistic especially with regard to the premium segment.'