01 November 2011

Are Audi playing it too safe?

Audi is highly regarded for building high quality and desirable cars. But is the German brand afraid of taking risks when designing their cars?

JEREMY CLARKSON infamously slated Porsche with their “lazy designs” on Top Gear. I can see what he means with the 911, the Boxster and the Cayman sports cars. With them looking virtually identical in all but size that distinguish each model.

But with Porsche though, their entire line-up of cars don’t look similar. For example, look at the Cayenne, the Panamera and the 911 as they are very different looking cars. Many can spot out which car that is in Porsche’s line up when seeing one from a distance. As there's quite a stark contrast between the cars.

Have you seen Audi's designs of their cars? Don't get me wrong, their cars aren't ugly but they're not gonna batter eye lids. Barring the TT and R8, their entire line-up of cars are virtually identical in appearance with their lazy designs.

From A1 to A8, you can tell these cars have been designed using a pencil on tracing paper. In some cases, sections have been rubbed out, re-designed to transform a saloon to a hatch or estate. Then measurements are made for the next car. This also applies to the Q5 and Q7.

Audi arguably have lazier car designs than those by Porsche. But, this is a big but, with its high value and prestige with Audi being a strong brand. Their designs on their cars are recognisable to everyone as the German manufacturer carries a strong identity. That's also helped by Audi building quality cars to very high standards, on which is why many private buyers and fleet companies get them.

Even if Audi have a strong identity, their cars are very much fit into Audi's branding guidelines with their designs. Barring the TT and R8, each model in the range don't have an identity or individual characteristic of their own.

Where many accuse of every new and upcoming car from them of looking the same as every other Audi, with the same old, boring designs. For example, Audi's marketing men will have to point it out to the public that this is an all-new A6. Which will look very similar to the outgoing car.

When you compare Audi's designs to those by other manufacturers. Take Jaguar for example. They have a strong brand identity and with cars like the XF and XJ are individual cars; whilst still having the Jaguar family look and feel. Audi's cars looks very corporate compared to those by Jaguar. The A6 and A8 look pretty much identical in appearance in all but size and what badges are on the bootlids to distinguish the cars.

Looking at another perspective, Audi don't need to be adventurous in designing their cars. The amount of kudos the four rings gets, you could argue on the case being if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Whatever way you look at it, Audi's cars are penned by lazy designers.

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