Does Audi’s subtle evolutionary design make its cars age better?

Much has been said about Audi’s rather evolutionary approach to design. For the past few decades, each Audi model has looked almost identical to its fellow stable mates of its time, just different sizes. Enthusiasts and journalists alike seem to poke fun at this concept, the idea that Audis are basically Russian Nesting Dolls, different sized versions of the same thing. However, maybe Audi is on to something because it seems that they’re aging really well.

I saw a C6-generation Audi A6 today and I thought to myself, “Damn, that still looks good”. It’s surprising how attractive and handsome the car really is, even after all these years. Admittedly, it’s not that old, as the C6-gen A6 didn’t end production until 2011. But it went on sale in 2004, so the design is over a decade old and it’s still good looking.

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A lot of that has to do with its subtlety, I think. Cars with busy, flamboyant designs tend to look ugly over the years. Take the first-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. When that car first came out, people’s jaw dropped as it drove down the street. It was the first car to really start that high-end four-door coupe look and it seemed as if it was the most special car on the road, with all of its swoops and lines. Now, it looks gross and sloppy.

But Audi’s are simple, they’re subtle and they’re smart looking. They’re tidied up and neat but not flashy or dramatic. And that keeps they’re design fresh, even after a decade or so. I constantly see older Audis driving around and think to myself that they still look great, even after years and years. Cars like the B6 and B7 Audi A4, C5 and C6 Audi A6 and even the first-gen D2 Audi A8 all look great. It’s the lack of fuss, the lack of drama.

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It wasn’t always just reserved to Audi, though. BMWs of the same period have been aging very well, too. The E38 7 Series, E46 3 Series and even the much newer E92 3 Series all still look great. The E92 will still look great in twenty years. The reason for that is that their designs are simple and handsome, rather than flashy and flamboyant. But now, BMW’s designs are getting a bit messier and flashier while Audi’s are staying simple. While this is mocked now, it should lead to Audi’s always having great looking, timeless cars.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.