Estate cars are not popular in India. Since most owners are chauffeur driven, they either want limo-like sedans or SUVs. Audi, however, believes Indian customers have changed in the way that they look at them. The carmaker believes, "the younger generation's exposure to international markets has brought about a greater willingness to try something new". This, at least, is what a recently conducted survey seems to suggest.
As a result, the German luxury carmaker is testing the waters in India for its station wagons or Avants. Audi's approach to this niche segment is top down, with the RS6 Avant being the first car to be launched. The objective is pretty clear. The RS6 has both the firepower and sport/luxury trimming to be seriously alluring, and that's perfect for putting a sheen on all Avants.
Next in line is likely to be Audi's Allroad, a sligthly raised and generously clad off-road version of an A6 Avant. Whereas selling limited numbers of the over-500bhp RS6s will be relatively easy, getting the Allroad to shift seamlessly off the showroom floor will be a bit more difficult. This is because estate cars, though popular all around the world at one time, only really sell strongly in Europe today. If all goes to plan, Audi could eventually be looking at bringing Avant versions of both the A6 and the A4 to India, a huge step.
What makes the Avant plan especially challenging is that station wagons or estates have never really sold well in India. There have been a few along the way; Tata's eponymous Estate and Marina, the Octavia Combi, Opel Swing, Fiat Siena Weekend and Adventure and Maruti's Baleno-based Altura. But none of them really clicked. So, can Audi really open up a niche in the luxury end of the market? The odds are certainly stacked against it, but if anyone has the brand to make it work, it's Audi.