words and photos: George Achorn
Editor’s Note: This story originally ran in the Summer 2017 issue of the Audi Club North America quattro quarterly print magazine. This time around, we’ve added the entire collection of photography shot on site at the Audi Sport launch. If you don’t receive quattro quarterly and wish to subscribe, join the Audi Club North America HERE.
New York, NY – Highline Studios isn’t just a boastful moniker for a Manhattan-based video production company. Instead, it’s a functional name capturing the company’s location below the highline walking trail that sprawls over New York on a smartly repurposed section of New York Central Railroad. It seems appropriate then that Audi would use this aptly named venue in Manhattan’s hip Chelsea district to re-launch its newly and more aptly named performance sub-brand.
It’s not that there was a problem with the name “quattro”… as in quattro GmbH. The word is a staple at Audi, a keystone in the brand’s rich use technology since the four rings’ modern rebirth in the early 1980s. Even still, with 80-some percent of all Audi models sold in America equipped with quattro, the technology is fairly common across the four ring model range. In the meantime, Audi’s consistently dominant Audi Sport racing team efforts have built an incredible lineage in that same span of time, a body of work steeped in proving technology on track which filters down to production cars, high performance production cars most specifically.
On the night before the opening of the New York Auto Show, Audi invited visiting media and a select group of customers made up of RS-car and R8 owners from the New York market to get an early taste of the changes afoot in the brand’s performance unit.
For starters, the division now known as Audi Sport GmbH is rife with new product. Audi may have positioned cars such as the new TT RS and RS 3 near the hors d’oeuvres as they’re just the start of things to come. Expected here by summer, these hot new offerings greeted guests ahead of the main event.
Setting the stage for the transition was Audi of America President Scott Keogh, who explained the brand’s surging growth in the segment and pulled the wraps off of the new RS 5 coupé for its first official unveiling here in the USA.
The RS 5, RS 3 and TT RS join a growing mix of RS-model offerings on sale already in the USA. The trio joins the RS 7 and S8 plus in American dealerships that have been gearing up for a much larger family of Audi Sport models. Expect even more to come next year in that regard – both more Audi Sport dealerships and several new Audi Sport production models.
Following Keogh on stage was Audi Sport GmbH’s new boss and former Lamborghini President Stephan Winkelmann who also had a surprise to share. After making even more of a case for the division’s success and putting it also in the context of the brand’s on-track performance, Winkelmann pulled the final cover off of the new R8 LMS GT4. Though racing news websites had hinted at the car in the final days before the event when Audi AG teased the car on social media channels, the new racer was still a major surprise to the motor racing world. Rumor is that several may have even been sold that evening. The R8 GT4 LMS marks the third racecar offered by Audi Sport customer racing here in the USA and slots in alongside the R8 LMS GT3 and the RS 3 LMS TCR.