Audi – new direction

Posted on 6 November, 2012

Audi is taking its design in a new direction. First, there will be greater differentiation between the model series; second, future model generations will show more technical aspects in the design. Another important parameter of the new design strategy is that the exterior and interior form an even more cohesive unit. Just how this new strategic orientation can be implemented is demonstrated by the current show car, the Audi crosslane coupé.

Wolfgang Egger firmly believes that “good design must always express a vision.” The Head of Audi Design senses that automotive design is ready for a change. “We need something new without breaking with tradition.” Audi Design has been reorganized, and Egger and his team are redefining their focus. They are placing more emphasis on the creative process and are thus exerting a substantial influence on the design of future Audi products.

Technology integrated into design
The refined Audi design language and philosophy will focus on a strong link between technology and design. Egger’s credo: “Only when design and technology mesh perfectly does an automobile make a statement for the Audi brand.” Technology will therefore no longer be enclosed, but rather exposed. For the first time, the union of technology and design will emphasize internal technical elements so strongly that it will create a new dimension of product authenticity. Pure technology and innovative combinations of materials are reflected in the design of the Audi crosslane coupé. In particular the Multimaterial Space Frame – a joint development of designers and lightweight construction experts– is visible at multiple locations in the show car:  in the single-frame grille, through intakes in the engine hood, at the sills when opening the door, at the A-pillar and as a load-bearing element in the form of a functional carbon strip in the cockpit.

Interior and exterior intertwine
Thanks to the holistic design, the interior and exterior of future model generations are more closely intertwined than ever to create a seamless unity that makes it easier to distinguish the models by their interiors as well. This additional differentiation further accentuates the unique character of each model in the cabin. The stronger link between the exterior and interior is also visible from behind the wheel of the crosslane coupé. “The cabin opens in the direction of travel and continues as an unbroken line in the engine hood,” says Karl-Heinz Rothfuss, Head of Interior Design. Clear, clean surfaces and fewer control elements in the interior enable a greater concentration on the driving experience. The cabin design is focused on the driver. “Our refined strategy at Audi Design emphasizes clarity and a focus on the essentials,” says Egger in summary.

Wolfgang Egger introduces studio concept
The Concept Design Studio in Munich is showing the way and reflects the freedom in the work process of the creative talents. Automotive designers and product designers benefit from one another’s creative ideas. Designers give their ideas free reign where there was once a car workshop. This is where they go about turning visions into reality. The studio philosophy that has proved so effective at the Munich studio will now also make its way to the design studios in Ingolstadt. Thanks to Wolfgang Egger’s studio concept, the three segments of automotive design – Interior, Exterior and Color&Trim – will work more closely together at Audi headquarters in the future in order to design a car from a holistic perspective, particularly during the initial creative phase. “For our design studios in Ingolstadt, the Munich idea foundry is like a satellite that is allowed to provoke occasionally and thus stimulate the potential for innovation,” says Steve Lewis, Head of the Concept Design Studio in Munich. The new work philosophy gives rise to a constant stream of new nuances that a single design never could have come up with working alone. In terms of the structure of the work process, the studio format means that the first design phase takes place in small teams. “Teams come up with the best ideas,” says Egger. The crosslane coupé show car is the work of both the Munich design studio and the studios in Ingolstadt. It gives a taste of how the future models of the Audi Q family might look.

Model lines emphasize their unique personality
All of these factors will result in greater differentiation between the A, R and Q model lines in the future. Looking ahead, the design team is initially concentrating on the Q family. It embodies a robust, distinctive appearance. Audi Design is therefore making the single-frame grille more three-dimensional to support the powerful presence characterizing every Q model. Staged as an independent sculpture, the three-dimensional single-frame grille is the defining influence on the overall exterior design of the Q family.  This feature can be seen on the show car on display at this year’s Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris. Its removable center roof element of carbon is also distinctive. It transforms the urban SUV into an open-top all-arounder.