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Manufacturer of the Year - Audi

Date: 24 January 2007

Audi is the BusinessCar readers' Manufacturer of the Year.

Audi has grabbed this award from Ford - which had taken it on four of the previous six occasions - although the Blue Oval ran it close in what was the tightest BusinessCar awards category of all this year. But Audi came out on top, and a quick glance at the product line-up reveals why. Every car it sells is aspirational, from the A3 (that acts as an achievable goal to Ford Focus or VW Golf drivers), through the A4 (the first genuine rival the BMW 3-series has had to deal with in a while) to the A6 (which many see as the class leader in the executive market), the supremely capable luxury A8, the excellent new TT and the huge new Q7 off-roader.

Another key to Audi's success is the massive range of engine options, specifically the addition of a number of diesel units last year. The A3, A4 and A6 all stretch across most budgets, and there are no bad choices among them. Audi interiors are at least up with the class best, if not the best, too, no matter which model you're looking at, both in terms of design and quality.

More of the German brand's models were bought by the corporate sector last year than in any year previously, and businesses were obviously pleased with what they got.

With the exception of the TT, which was in its changeover year from old to new model, and a Roadster that doesn't launch until this spring, every Audi recorded double-digit fleet sales growth last year, compared with 2005. The A6 was particularly impressive, adding nearly 50% more sales than in 2005 and finishing the year top of its class.

This year looks likely to be another strong one for Audi, thanks to a number of new additions to the range. The A5 coupe will be here mid-year, while slightly further ahead is the Q5, aimed squarely at BMW's X3 small off-roader. And then there's the small matter of Audi taking on Porsche with the R8 supercar.