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Audi shakes up future model design

Q2 view: The Crosslane Coupe previews Audi’s next Q-series SUV family design that it promises will have more cohesion between the cabin and exterior, with a more three-dimensional grille the main focal point at the front end.

New design direction sees Audi work on greater differentiation between model lines

Audi logo15 Nov 2012

AUDI has vowed to build greater differentiation between its model lines and incorporate a more technological feel across the board with its next-generation vehicles.

The German luxury car marque’s head of design Wolfgang Egger admitted the company “needs something new” in terms of styling across its ever-expanding model range, although he hastened to add he would not break with tradition.

As a result, Audi is not about to abandon its trademark Russian doll styling approach, but promises significant differentiation between the mainstream ‘A’, high-performance ‘R’ and sport utility vehicle ‘Q’ model lines.

Under Mr Egger’s instruction, the company’s design operations will give next-generation products from each of these three divisions more of a standalone presence, backed by greater cohesion between the exterior and interior design that further sets each model line apart.

“Good design must always express a vision,” said Mr Egger, who in recent months has overseen the design studio’s reorganisation that has led to the team “redefining their focus” and “placing more emphasis on the creative process”.

“We need something new without breaking with tradition.”

 center imageFrom top: Audi head of design Wolfgang Egger Audi Crosslane Coupe.

To illustrate the point, Mr Egger highlighted the Crosslane Coupe concept which premiered at the Paris motor show in September and previewed the forthcoming ‘Q2’ compact SUV that is expected to reach the market by 2015.

Audi says the concept also provides a “foretaste” of the next-generation Q-series SUV family styling.

While the extent of differentiation between Audi’s model lines is still to materialise, the Crosslane is the first demonstration of the design path that emphasises the vehicle’s technology.

As GoAuto reported at its unveiling, the show car’s ‘Multimaterial Space Frame’ can be seen at various points across the body, including in the trademark single-frame grille, through the bonnet air intakes, and at the door sills and pillar posts.

It also doubles as a carbon strip and a load-bearing element in the cockpit.

For the production versions of the next-generation Q family currently in development, Audi says the SUVs will embody a more “robust, distinctive appearance” with a more three-dimensional grille – as seen on the Crosslane – acting as “the defining influence on the overall exterior design of the Q family”.

“Only when design and technology mesh perfectly does an automobile make a statement for the Audi brand,” Mr Egger declared.

“We are focused on authentic products and show technology intentionally.

“Technology will therefore no longer be enclosed, but rather exposed. For the first time, the union of technology and design will emphasise internal technical elements so strongly that it will create a new dimension of product authenticity.” Audi’s head of interior design Karl-Heinz Rothfuss also pointed to the Crosslane Coupe as an example of how the interior and exterior can intertwine, which will be a feature of all future production models.

The aim is to have model lines distinguished as much by their interior design as their external styling, which “further accentuates the unique character of each model”.

“The (Crosslane) cabin opens in the direction of travel and continues as an unbroken line in the engine hood,” said Mr Rothfuss.

While on the one hand highlighting the technological aspects of the car through its design, Audi says it is also moving toward clearer and cleaner surfaces in the cabin, with fewer control elements that serve to focus more on the driving experience.

Mr Egger said: “Our refined strategy at Audi Design emphasises clarity and a focus on the essentials.”The Crosslane Coupe was sculpted in Audi’s concept design studio in Munich, which was a former car workshop and, according to the company, has fostered creativity by allowing free reign of designers’ ideas.

Mr Egger said the philosophy had proven so effective at the Munich studio that the same approach will now be used in the design studios at the company’s head office in Ingolstadt.

He also said interior, exterior and colour and trim departments would work more closely together, particularly during early stages of development.

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