Theme : Shutlines – Care and Discretion

Audi once understood subtlety. I’m not so sure they do any more.

Audi A2 Side View

Once upon a time, whilst Mercedes and BMW were attracting critical scorn for their new styling directions (some deserved, some not) over at Audi they couldn’t put a foot wrong. See how they treated the rear side shutlines on the A2. The front wheelarch blister is defined by an inset crease. The rear blister appears the same but, so as not to spoil the balance, the rear door shutline is continued all the way round the arch – the blister is a separate panel. See also how the A pillar flows all the way round to the rear without any door cutouts in it. All the side glasses have the same size border trims.

No car is perfect, but there are other little details here that, in less careful hands would have been compromised. The end result would have looked almost identical from the other side of the road, but it would never have impressed in the subconscious way the A2 does.

Audi Wheelarch

12 thoughts on “Theme : Shutlines – Care and Discretion”

  1. I have set myself in opposition before to the good burghers of this website regarding our appraisal of the A2. For me, it is a series of standard millennial Audi cues diligently applied to an unreceptive shape. It neither sites the car within the wider range nor offers a visual receipt for the car’s exotic specification. We can argue about the merits or otherwise of BMW’s styling for the i3, but at least it clearly delineates the car’s “otherness”. The A2 looks like an oddly shaped box with the Audi brand applied afterwards.

  2. That´s certainly grounds for a lively discussion. I would argue in response that the A2 was very distinctly different from other Audis by dint of its its profile and format. And they probably didn´t want to scream technical strangeness. That´s what Citroen did and look where it got them. It is ironic that Ford´s quite conventional Focus 1 looked so other-worldly and still does while Audi´s futuristically engineered car looks … still acceptable and correct. That said, chris´s view that the car doesn´t offer a visual receipt carries some weight. I might ask what else Audi could have done without compromising the weight and aerodynamics.
    This is another one of those cars that Paul Horrell raved about in Car and which was given a solid thumbs down by punters.

  3. I think that the concept and also the odd shape of the A2 lend themselves very well to Audi’s design of the time. This was a time when functionality and restraint were still the core of it, not single frame grilles and tornado lines. The only thing I can reproach the A2 are the wheelarches. Richard points out how carefully they are integrated, and he’s right. But I still think they unnecessarily conceded to the public’s taste there.

    Interestingly, when I mention to Audi drivers that this is the only Audi I’d be interested in, they often reply that it’s the only one they’re not. As so often, whenever a manufacturer manages to make a car pleasing for my taste, it seems to be doomed…

  4. I’ve found that problem too, Simon. Possibly we could seek employment. Run a design by both of us and if we both say YES!, then can it!

    As regards the wheelarches, I think their reason is less pandering to fashion, more a pragmatic use of fashion to prevent the car looking as though it’s teetering on tiny wheels. Personally I feel the A2 is the most interesting and carefully thought-out solution, but Chris is right that compared with Mercedes and Audi’s answers, the BMW 1 Series gave it its own distinct image, but still left it recognisably a BMW.

  5. Unusually, I am afraid I don’t agree with Chris on this one – I love the A2, although I admit to there being a few more that I like a lot (if not quite as much) too.

    1. Unfortunately for Audi, the car buying public probably agreed with me. Not that I or indeed the market are always right, of course.

  6. Despite what I might have said at the start of this piece (I was thinking of the saloons) I’ve always had a problem with another Audi, The TT Coupe. For me, this ‘iconic’ design is OK, but something about it reminds me of a baby guinea pig for some reason, which was hardly the intention I’m sure. The same applies to the Bentley Continental. There’s just something about the proportions of VAG coupes at that time which seems wrong to my eyes.

  7. C***son writes down similes and then finds things to which they vaguely apply. Here are some unused similes

    1) It looks like a horse with a bean bag strapped to its leg.
    2) It´s as fast a shoe falling down a stairs and about as predictable.
    3) It´s greener than Kermit the frog in snot factory explosion on the planet greeen.
    4) It´s thinnner than a piece of rice paper flattened by a nine billion tonne iron statue of a bombastic twat from television who likes to punch people and shoot his mouth off.

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