News - Audi
Audi's emotional rescue
Audi aims to tug at the heart-strings with more sporty designs
2 Jul 2001
By BRUCE NEWTON
AUDI is expected to reveal evidence of a more emotional and sporty design philosophy at this September's Frankfurt motor show.
The company will unveil the A4 cabriolet as well as some "surprises" which will give clues to the new styling steps, according to senior design executive Christian Labonte.
"I can tell you Frankfurt is a very important show for us," said Mr Labonte, in Australia last week for the launch of the new generation Audi A4 sedan.
"We will get more emotional in general. We have to get our customers on the emotional level, catch them in the heart.
"The emotion is one headline and our second headline or target is we want to get more sporty."Mr Labonte pointed to Mercedes-Benz as an example of the transition Audi had to make in its styling process to claim a new generation of customers.
"It turns from the conservative brand to more sporty brand, to more modern, stylish exterior design," Mr Labonte said.
"They have found the solution to hold the old customers - they have taken them with them. This is perfect, well done, really good."Mr Labonte also cited Alfa Romeo as a centre of strong design work that can inspire Audi.
"Look at Alfa, they have found a shape that looks like it goes ahead when it is standing still," he said.
Mr Labonte believes Audi has achieved this styling effect with the TT coupe, but the company now wants to spread it through more cars in the range.
"We want to develop this more in a formal way to bring it more to the surface, to make it more readable for everybody," he said.
Next year Audi unveils its second generation A3 compact and the A8 luxury sedan, while a new A6 is expected in 2004.
All-road derivatives of the A4 and A3 have been tipped while there should also be an expansion of the S and RS performance range. The Audi board is also considering a radical five-door A4 coupe design.
Audi has sustained some criticism for the conservative development of its current sedan range, the new A4 an evolution of the old car with close resemblance to the larger A6.
"Our concept for the A4 at the moment is more evolutionary, we want to hold old friends," Mr Labonte said.
"We don't want to break the friendship. That's the reason at this moment we are so evolutionary. For the future, wait and see."The hiring of former Toyota stylist Sotiris Kovos last year was externally seen as a search for a new direction, but Mr Kovos lasted just a few months at Audi.
"We are a German company with German structures and he came from a Japanese company and I think we have a completely different way of developing cars, and perhaps that was a problem," Mr Labonte said.
Also, Mr Labonte said the new generation A8 would present a technological alternative to the "iDrive" ergonomic driver control system recently shown in production form for the first time by BMW in its new 7 Series.
"I think it will outdo iDrive. It is similar, but with a different logic to the software design. It is really good," he said.
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