Cars with four interlinked rings on the front grille are a pretty frequent sight on UK roads. Audi has been very successful in recent times at etching its brand identity on our national consciousness, helped by clever product placement.
When celebrities go to the Baftas or the Brit awards, or any of the other red carpet events that pepper the calendar and make the headlines, there is a fair chance that they will be wafted there in a chauffeur-driven Audi. The company keeps a special fleet of luxurious range-topping long-wheelbase A8s on call to be seen at all the publicity-worthy events.
This costly policy has paid off handsomely. Combined with a lavish surge of new models constantly being added to the Audi car range over recent years, it has helped the Bavarian brand to grow its following in the UK hugely. It is now comfortably up there with the two much longer established German car marques of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
When the first Audi model, codenamed F103 but known simply as ‘the Audi’, arrived in the UK way back in 1965, it attracted few customers. Just 32 of the cars were sold that year. Fifty years later, the brand has come such a long way that it has just celebrated its two millionth car sold here. Last year alone, sales of Audi cars to UK customers totalled 158,987.
The biggest growth was between 1991, when just 14,344 Audis were registered here, and 2007, when sales of the four-ringed brand topped 100,000 for the first time. The range has grown from the first ‘60s model to one of the biggest car line-ups on the market. It comprises the A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, TT, Q3, Q5, Q7, the exotic supercar R8, and variations of many of them, including Sportback, 4×4 allroad and higher performance S and RS models.
The two-millionth UK Audi is an A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid with a petrol engine and electric motor. It can run on battery power alone for up to 31 miles, or on engine power alone when the battery pack runs low. Using the two power sources combined, it has a range of nearly 600 miles. Recharging the battery pack, plugged into a home wall-box, takes around two and a quarter hours.
What is it like to drive? Pretty lively, with a top speed potential of 138 miles an hour if you’re anywhere near a derestricted German autobahn. The 0-62 mph acceleration time is a lively 7.6 seconds, but the car’s green credentials are impressive with a CO2 output at the tailpipe of just 37 g/km. The price? Fifty quid short of £30,000.