Space Oddity

Audi’s A2 confounded the buying public and lost its maker billions, but it was a stellar achievement nonetheless. 

(c) bilmodel

Carmakers are for the most part, pathologically averse to matters of risk – and for good reason. The costs of failure can be ruinous. For instance, a cogent argument could be made that Fiat Auto never recovered from the commercial failure of their 2003 Stilo programme, precipitating a decline from which they have never recovered.

Not so Audi, nestled safely within the VW Group mothership, and for decades now, a significant profit centre within the vast German multi-brand automotive titan. Nevertheless, the luxury carmaker is no stranger to the bitter tang of failure, or its financial cost.

Twenty years ago Audi announced the A2, a revolutionary and futuristically styled monopod aimed at elevating the Ingolstadt carmaker’s perception as technological pioneers. Six years later, it was summarily axed, following losses which amounted to around €1.3 bn*, having failed to Continue reading “Space Oddity”

Putting Out The Fire, Scattering The Ashes

Audi’s concept car for this year’s Shanghai motor show is an autonomous, electric homage to the brand’s legendary A2 model. Or so we’re told. 

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Audi AI:ME, photo (c) Audi AG

On the surface at least, there doesn’t appear to be much terribly wrong with Audi’s AI:ME concept car. It’s not an SUV for a start; its autonomous functions aren’t reflected by the lamest concept car trope of the past few years (swivelling seats), and it – supposedly – pays homage to no less than Audi’s bravest failure, the misunderstood A2.

However, as always, a surface is but a thin layer, whereas what lies beneath is an altogether more meaty matter. And the meat of this AI:ME is hardly scrumptious.

Take its overall appearance: It’s a rather generic EV compact concept car fare, to such an extent that nobody would bat an eyelid if it didn’t Continue reading “Putting Out The Fire, Scattering The Ashes”

Fly Me Down To The Moon

It’s another new year. What was happening 20 years ago? 

Rover R40 concept: Car Magazine, Jan 1998

At Gaydon, Rover’s engineers worked on the R55 (to be sold as the R40). Predictions suggested a vehicle with rounded windows like a 1992 Nissan Micra and an upright chrome grille with main body surfaces akin to the 75. Rover expected the launch to be in 1999 when the last of the Honda-based Rovers would be phased out.

Interestingly, it was expected that the R40 would be sold only a year from 1998 and that a mid-size executive car would Continue reading “Fly Me Down To The Moon”

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.

Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Care and Discretion”