Recently, Audi has been criticized for not being aggressive or adventurous enough with its styling. The upcoming B9 A4 is an attractive car, but it’s a bit staid and maybe even a bit boring. When shown to the public, people were almost unanimous in saying that it needed a bit more zing. Now, this may sound a bit harsh, but I think I want Walter de Silva back as head of design.
Marc Lichte is the current design leader at Audi, with de Silva designing VWs now. Lichte is not bad designer by any means, and these new staid designs may not even be his fault, but I feel like when de Silva was in charge Audi was making some beautiful cars. The new direction Audi is heading in seems to be focused on futuristic, scientific designs wrapped around the idea of fresh technology. This is understandable, as car technology is advancing so quickly and cars should reflect that. But, in doing so, Audi is creating cars that are cold and lifeless and, while good looking, just don’t excite much.
When de Silva was around, cars like the R8, A5 and A7 were made. These were cars that had real emotion to their designs. They excited and enticed a bit of fizz, if you know what I’m saying. Lichte’s new designs are very clean, attractive and a bit cold. Lichte’s new designs are cars like the new Audi TT, R8, A3 and now A4, with replacements for the the rest of the lineup on the way. These cars are all good looking, but just a bit boring. It’s especially a shame for the R8, which used to be such beautiful design and now is a bit more angular and robotic looking. The basis of all of these designs is the Audi Prologue Concept, which debuted in 2014. So we can see the design language coming into form.
Now, maybe this new design style is the direction Audi wants to go in, maybe the shareholders want this and Lichte’s hand is forced. Or maybe this truly his vision for the future of Audi cars. Either way, Lichte’s designs aren’t bad at all, just a bit cold. They need some more excitement, like they had when Walter de Silva was in charge. Maybe Lichte will prove us wrong and start pumping out some great looking cars, but until then I kind of wish de Silva was back in the designers chair. Maybe it’s just an Italian thing.