Pun-tastic name aside, the new monster from Ingolstadt mainly serves to expose the car industry’s ignorance towards the social properties of the automobile.
It’s difficult to determine where to start with the Audi Q8. How about the name? Yes, there may be a ton of planet-saving batteries hidden underneath its gargantuan sheetmetal somewhere, but still: just the car’s appearance and its onomatopoeic, mineral oil-related name set a rather strange tone.
Further to Sean Patrick´s excellent idea about decals to give your boring car a more contemporary, fun and sporting look, I have shown three products in the upcoming range.
The decals make the car more premium, add a touch of dynamic flair and increase the perceived quality by accentuating the maturity of the style. Graphics and sculpting together produce a greater sense of athleticism while underlining the greater modernity of the cars.
The Detroit Auto show is over for another year. What caught our eye? What hurt our eye?
Audi showed the 3.0 TFSI SQ5: a CUV. They also showed the Q8 concept, some kind of crossover but sized extra-large. It’ll be ideal for bringing 17 kg children to kindergarten in Chelmsford. Notably the grille has burst out of its frame and now the silhouette of the lamps is involved in the party, as if the engine and lights are expanding out from under the bonnet like a weird blossoming mechanical monster. At the back the lamps stretch the full width across the car. Note the A-pillar to wing which is a decisively retrograde step. It’s not flush as on Audis of old. There’s a hint of a stump of a boot at the back and the wheel arches feature another little articulation in case you didn’t notice the massive wheels. Continue reading “Armchair Guide to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show”
This isn’t much of a Photo for Saturday** more of blue car by the side of the road. What is it?
It’s a very Was Then sort of car. From 2006 to 2008 BMW made this car in Regensburg. It’s a variant of the E85 Z4 which had a longer life. The Z4M had one engine, a 3.2 litre six cylinder unit and a six speed ‘box. In some ways you could call it an M3 wearing Z4 clothes. If you want a historical reference, it has the same relation to the Z4 as the Triumph GT6 to the mainstream Spitfire. It’s the kind of car that used to be quite common, a pure sports car which is now rather a freak. Continue reading “Automotive Mayfly”
There are some places you simply don’t want to go.
In his transgressive 1973 novel, ‘Crash’, novelist JG Ballard explored a netherworld where a group of symphorophiliasts play out their fetishes of eroticism and death amid the carnage of motor accidents. But while most of us might find ourselves staring luridly against our better instincts at some roadside crumplezone, we recoil in dread from the blood and the bone. It could after all so easily be ourselves trapped and lifeless inside some shattered hatchback. Continue reading “Theme: Places – Scene of the Accident”
While it might be culturally, and indeed physically a long way from the rest of South-America, the Falklands are part of the continent. What do they drive?
Outside of Port Stanley, the capital, most of the roads are gravelled and are described as tracks. Furthermore, there is not a very large road network (900 km) due to the island’s low population density: 3000 people reside there. It is tempting to say that the most popular vehicles thereabouts are boats since the Falklands are made up of two large islands and about 700 smaller ones. The road network is being upgraded to Continue reading “Theme: Sudamerica – +(500) Land of Bikes, Quads and Boats”
A while back I alleged that, if nothing else, the mainstream saloon had more visual variety than that found among C-class family hatches.
A recent bit of news concerning Volkswagen’s Phideon saloon led me to put that in with seven other medium sized cars. See how many you can identify. How different are they? And which one stands out? Doesn’t the Phideon look a lot like a BMW 5-series proposal? Can you tell which one is the Phideon?
Today we peer again into the world of marginal car makers. In this instalment we deal gently with Donkervoort.
There are 15 Donkervoort cars advertised at mobile.de and above, a 1981 S8 is the cheapest at €19,950 with a mere 52,000 km up. Next is a similar roadster from 1988 for €24,000. A 1998 2.0 Zetec-powered D8 costs €36,000. From 2001 an Audi-powered D8 costs nearly €50,000. So, who are Donkervoort? Continue reading “Far From the Mainstream: Donkervoort”
Audi found 800,000 customers for this car over its eight year production run. The first 500,000 customers paid up before 1971.
That means that for the next five years the Audi 100 trailed in the sales stakes. Audi attempted to keep it competitive by raising the power output of the engine and some modest restyling efforts. That it didn’t work is indicated by the 50,000 units sold per year between 71 and 76. The car had a lot of competition at that time which might go some way to explaining the later half of its sales career. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday: 1968-1976 Audi 100”
Cars start decaying the moment they are built. Some manage to accumulate character while most don’t. What do you do?
One response is obsessive polishing and maintenance. The other is stoic acceptance. For many the response is to oscillate in between the two, starting with careful stewardship of the new possession. Why do people fight physics? And why is it that cars don’t last longer? Continue reading “Theme: Material – Decay”
My casual analysis of the Italian fleet leads me to conclude Fiat, GM, Toyota and VW dominate the low to middle market and thereafter it’s Audi and Mercedes. The losers are Renault and Citroen at one end, Ford in the middle and Lexus and BMW at the top. Subaru, Mazda, Honda and Mitsubishi have no strong presence. Alfa aren’t even all that common. Continue reading “Micropost: The Italian Car Park”
In my survey of the values of the motoring manufacturing nations, we have touched on Italy, Britain and France. Now it is time to look at the nation that helped invent the motor car.
The present gets in the way of the past. Today Germany stands on an equal footing with Japan and the US as a powerhouse of car engineering, design and manufacturing. If we go back a hundred years the story would not have seemed so clear. Each car-building nation had a deluge of manufacturers and a certain sameness attached to all of them as they ploughed a vast array of technical furrows, hopeful minnows. Germany’s clever engineers and industrious entrepreneurs offered a wide range of types of car in the search to find something that matched German values and German conditions. Things became clearer in the 20s as most of the small makers died off. The Second World War acted as another selector. Mercedes managed to Continue reading “Theme: Values – Germany”
“Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation” – Edward Abbey.
17 years. You would think that was long enough to convince my girlfriend that a W126 is the ideal family car. It seems not. I’ve always loved the cars MB produced during Sacco’s time (I like to think he had called in sick the day they designed the W210) but his first S-Class (especially the coupe) is top of the heap for me. For some reason his theory of Vertical and Horizontal Affinity has always had a strong resonance. Continue reading “Cookie Cutter”
There was a time when I hoped that the premium German carmakers’ foray into SUVs would pass by like a bad dream, but with their sales of products categorised as crossovers sitting at over 50% of production, and sometimes more, we have to accept the current orthodoxy, and take an interest.
The Q2 is intriguing on several counts. It’s scarcely smaller than the Q3, but cheaper and lighter. Up front there’s a bit of a rethink of Audi’s “big face”, but it’s still strong on Autobahn presence. Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Audi Q2”
This is part of Driven To Write´s unique service. Normally colour analyses are expensive and hard-to-get proprietary information. We give it away for free.
It´s probably not comprehensive. Gizmag kindly put together a slide show of the most important cars and I added to the list with some Google image searches of brands they didn´t cover in their slide show. Did Cadillac really not show anything of note?
In December 2014 we ran an item about the changing styles of luxury car interiors.
A year or so later we find someone answering our calls.
In an article about how Lincoln do not want to copy the Germans, there is also discussion of the Lincoln Continental´s blue interior option. Here is a chance then to see if blue interiors are something that appeal to anyone other than automotive design commentators. My impression is that this is a welcome bit of bravery on the part of Lincoln. The all-blue colourway creates a very pleasant atmosphere that manages to Continue reading “Be careful what you wish for II”
Autocar have published a list of the new cars expected in the near future. Under “Audi” we find grounds to hope that Audi´s much-criticised, characterless design can be saved.
Well, I am being ironic of course.
This is what Autocar says about the 2017 Audi A6 “A more stylish look is promised for Audi’s next BMW 5-series competitor, designed under Marc Lichte”. You really have to wonder about the man who is heir to a long tradition of studiously composed designs from the Ingolstadt firm. What is he thinking? Remember Walter da Silva who was charged with adding faszination to VAG´s cars. He tentatively added a “storm line” to some Audi models which seemed as breathtakingly out of place as putting a clown nose on Heidi Klum´s face. One wonders what Mr Lichte is planning and what that will look like. Audi’s are stylish in the sense of having a clear, defined and consistent appearance. It’s eye-catchingly restrained.
What we have here, in addition to the usual dreary imperative of design spokespeople to talk up forthcoming cars, is an inherent tension in modernism with or without a capital M. You see, the idea with modernism (and Audi demonstrates some form of this mentality) is that by eschewing decorative flourishes one can Continue reading “That´s what Audi is missing”
Here is this revised or updated Audi A4 for your consideration. I have marked in red all the areas that look identical with the outgoing car.
I conclude the glasshouse is the same and the bodysides to halfway down the doors are the same geometry. They have replaced the pronounced upward curving swoosh groove with a scalloped indent and the lower bumpers have been tweaked. There´s nothing wrong with this as such. It is however what looks incredibly like a mild facelift. It is not a new car.
Here is the new (or revised?) Audi A4. Audi stresses the car´s athletic proportions which you´ll need a measuring tape to determine for yourselves.
The Avant is keeping its raked D-pillars to deter Volvo customers (or Skoda Superb customers). The vehicle is 4.73 metres long and has a 2.82 metre wheelbase. I will have to do a comparison later. The vehicle is a modest 15 kilos lighter, or about as much as a person can carry home by hand from the supermarket. Not much at all. Audi claim a cD of 0.23 which is the best in the class, with knock on benefits for interior peace. Continue reading “The 2016 Audi A4 revealed”
The linear, full-width grille was a staple of production car design for years. Always incorporating the headlamps, often sidelights and indicators, it was a logical reduction. The idea can be seen appearing in the States at the start of the 60s with the Ford Falcon, but where do we first see it in Europe? I’d propose the Glas 1004, introduced in 1961.
The rest of the car deserves consideration too. Its proportions are slightly odd, in part due to the cost saving carry-over of the previous model’s floorpan, but there is a lot to be seen here that we also see in the better-known products of other manufacturers that followed, in particular Audi, who stayed faithful to the full width grille for nearly 40 years.
This is a good one: cherishably bad photos from the school of Douglas Land-Windermere. The car itself is going for 40,000 kr or about €5400 and seems to be in good condition. The question is…
…why the oddly cropped photos? You don´t see very many of these 70s Audis and the price being asked is on the high side for what is a quite uninteresting car. You´d think they would do more to sell its limited charms.
The Audi 80 existed as a competitor for the Opel Ascona and Ford Taunus. While it seems visually innocuous and rather unexciting technically, it managed to gain the European Car of the Year award in 1973. That was the same year Alfa Romeo offered the technically advanced Alfetta which had legendary handling to
The A2 wasn’t just the most intelligently wrought Audi ever. It was also their most expensive sales flop. We tell its story.
History marks the Audi A2 as a failure, and with vast commercial losses incurred during a six year lifespan, it’s convenient to imagine this. Since 2005, the party line has been that Audi took a brave, risky and ultimately doomed gamble into the unknown; one which was studiously ignored by the buying public. But did they? Continue reading “Benchmarks: Audi’s Monospace Capsule”
Recently I noticed a nice looking Audi saloon outside a super-market near where I live. That A4 looks pleasing, I thought. Except it was no A4 at all but the A3 saloon, on sale since early last year. In what way does the A3 differ from its bigger sibling?
The A3 saloon´s price list begins at £23,295 and for that you get a neatly styled boot holding 425 litres of air along with a rather handsome exterior. For an extra £1390 you can get the “entry-level” A4 and 480 litres of space in the equally nicely shaped trunk. That´s £25.77 per extra litre of luggage carrying capacity which is a lot less per litre than Mercedes asks for when you choose a C-class saloon over a CLA, by the way. Another difference is Continue reading “What´s the difference between an Audi A3 saloon and an Audi A4 saloon? Calendula Yellow.”
What is a concept car? What was its past like and how did its future evolve? Why do we have concept cars at all?
We are late in the automobile era. It is ending as cars become banalities and as the illusion of mass personal transportation dissolves. Consequently, the car´s future might even be over already. In 1971 the future was staggeringly unlike the present. In a properly realised future all signs of the present are gone. A 1971 concept car shared only wheels with the cars on sale at the time. To judge by the work of designers and students now tasked with imagining the future, the future looks a lot like now. In contrast, the further back we go, the more improbable concept cars seemed to be in comparison with the vehicles customers could buy. Compare the two Buicks (below) for example. If we go even longer into the past, before the year 1938, then it was only necessary for the car to be better than the fore-runner, the horse-and-carriage. There was no need of a future as the present was advanced enough.
Concept cars are designs that exist to be compared to something else. They are as much an element of marketing as expressions of intent about directions in which aesthetics and engineering can go. For this essay I shall consider Continue reading “Theme: Concepts – Introduction”
When Sir John Hegarty; doyen of UK advertising (and co-founder of renowned ad-agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty) took on the Audi creative account back in 1982 the Ingolstadt marque’s image was somewhat woolly.
“Marketing is what you do when your product is no good, ” said Edwin H. Land. David Foster Wallace said of an ad: “It did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase.”
This month´s theme is the about the ephemeral products of automotive advertising. As long as cars have been available, there have been people making money trying to help manufacturers get yours.
At first, the main theme of car advertising was to explain the advantages of a car over the other ways of getting around. The 1898 Winton ad devotes its energy to the money-saving attributes of their car compared to owning a horse. It might not have been strictly true but the message could be clearly understood as a rational proposition. A Winton cost only half a cent a mile to run though they didn´t say Continue reading “Theme of the Month : Advertising – Introduction”
It’s hard to explain this to people who view cars as polluting, selfish devices, that kill, maim and generally mess up lives. And it’s equally hard to explain it to people who see cars as pure, powerful pieces of engineering, that mainly offer them control and prestige. But the car is a flawed but hugely romantic device, and that has been its true enduring strength.
What defines a car? For some it’s outright speed, or acceleration. For some status. For some it’s sheer practicality, for others it’s individuality. For some it’s handling, steering feel, lightness of touch, whilst others want weight, bling and intimidation. There are so many criteria for what makes a good car and, if you are trying to explain why you like a car to someone else, it’s tricky. Watch their eyes glaze as you lasciviously trace the curve as the C pillar kinks round the inset vent to join the rear wing. See them shuffle with embarrassment as you present one fisherman’s yarn too many about lifting the front wheel in Tesco’s car park. Risk them questioning your manhood as you mime the ingenious folding mechanism of the rear seats in your MPV.
You’ve come a long way, baby. So goes the cliche. How far then?
Glostrup Cars in Denmark are selling this two-stroke body-on-frame fossil for just under €10,000. Introduced in 1959, the Juniors (renamed F11 or F12) were discontinued in 1965 when VW bought the firm, ending DKW’s post-war association with Mercedes*. These diminutive DKWs were built in Ingolstadt, at a new factory. The car´s run ended when it became clear that it was just not up to facing the competition presented by VW’s Beetle and Opel´s smaller cars (possibly the 1962 Kadett). Interestingly, the Junior was a cut above the Beetle, offering a bigger boot and faster cabin heating than the people´s car but it cost that bit more. In one sense you can see Audi´s precursor being a slightly more prestigious product than its peers. Yet, even taking into account the technology of the day, the Junior looks a lot more toy-like and agricultural than similar cars at this price. The two-stroke engine, in particular, was even rougher, noisier and smellier than VW´s air-cooled nail though. It´s hard to see where this car lies in Audi´s product evolution but perhaps we can say it was the precursor of the current A3, in which case we can say that a lot has happened to Audi in the intervening period but some things have stayed the same.
And What Is Wrong With Putting the Engine in Front of the Wheels?
Audi are in danger of becoming the Phil Collins of the petrolhead world, an act that even people who know little about music like to cite as being a bit off. Speaking as someone who can, hand on heart, swear that he has no murky Genesis related skeletons in his youthful musical vinyl rack and hopes he’ll never hear Against All Odds on the radio again, I’d judge that Mr Collins is no worse than many, and better than scores. Changing fashion means that he has just become a lazy symbol for bad comedians and the generally undiscerning to latch on to in order to suggest, quite undeservedly, their musical connoisseurship. Likewise Audi. In bars and on motoring websites everywhere, you will hear the drone of “overrated and overpriced …. style over content …. they’re all designed on a photocopier …. no driver involvement ….. they’ll never really be premier league until they go rear drive”. Is any of this justified?