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Sedans tipped for comeback

Comeback: One of Audi's chief designers has said the humble sedan - such as the booted A3 concept to the left - could return to fashionable status.

Leading designer says traditional three-box sedan shape will come back in favour

Audi logo2 Apr 2012

ONE of the world’s leading car designers has predicted that the traditional three-box sedan will eventually return to favour, but that the process will probably take at least 10 years.

Audi head of exterior design Achim Badstuebner said the fashion for all car design is cyclical, and the time is approaching for the sedan to make a comeback on a global scale.

Speaking at the national launch of the Audi Q3 in Queensland last week, Mr Badstuebner said the popularity of SUVs would start to taper off as consumers tire of their ubiquity, particularly as this style of vehicle is fragmenting at an increasing rate.

This is evidenced by the Q3 being the third Audi SUV after the Q5 and Q7, while the long-rumoured Q6 and even a Q1 baby crossover further underline the SUV’s ever-growing reach.

Mr Badstuebner, who has been head of exterior design at Audi since 2008, also noted that younger buyers historically do not want to drive the same sort of vehicle that their parents drive.

He told Australian journalists that the strength of the sedan in the emerging power markets of China and India will also ensure its relevance to car-makers around the world.

“The sedan may become an ‘anti’ statement (in the coming few years),” he said.

“Everybody is now doing SUVs (so) sedans will definitely make a comeback. The younger generation will rebel against SUVs.”

Mr Badstuebner does not believe that the return of the sedan will be a retro statement in the future.

“I wouldn’t call it retro. Young people don’t see it as retro because (the sedan) will be new to them. It is a hedonistic thing – you don’t need a big trunk it’s all for appearance.”

The designer explained that the Audi directors have long predicted an upswing in the popularity of the sedan, from the time when he began working on the previous-generation (2004-2011 C6-series) Audi A6 more than a decade ago.

This followed the C5-series A6 (1997-2003), which garnered widespread acclaim for its progressive styling but in sedan form was considered a commercial failure in Europe against the BMW E39 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz W210 E-class, while the wagon version outsold it two-to-one in some markets.

As a result, there were orders from the top to make the replacement A6 sedan far more appealing to consumers so that Audi could “become a sedan brand again”.

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