Top Gear interviews Marc Lichte, Audi’s Design Boss

When Marc Lichte first became the head of design for Audi, replacing the brilliant Walter de Silva, many Audi fans were worried about the future of Audi design. Then the Audi Prologue debuted and showed off some very impressive concepts and design elements that Lichte wanted to use in future Audis. Now that more and more concepts are rolling out, we can see Lichte’s Prologue design themes coming to life and it’s most evident in the brand-new Audi Q8.

Top Gear recently sat down with Lichte to discuss the Audi Q8 and the future of Audi’s design.

Lichte explains that he wants Audi’s design to be more progressive in the future. He notes that both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have their main design themes, with BMW being sportier and Mercedes being more sophisticated. Audi, he notes, wants to be more progressive. “If you look at our competitors, you’d say that you have to be sophisticated too. BMW and Mercedes are very sophisticated. BMW, I would say, is very sporty, but Audi is becoming more and more so. The differentiation is being progressive.” Lichte told Top Gear.

He also admits that Audi’s design language has been a bit stale in the past decade. It’s something he wants to change and is currently in the process of doing so. “The products, when I arrived here, were maybe too conservative. In the past, Audi had been very progressive – take the TT, or the Ur-Quattro. This is something I wanted to figure out in every future Audi. The second thing I wanted to do is visualize Audi’s technology. Audi stands for Quattro, and today, it’s just a badge. BMW and Mercedes have rear-drive, so they have a cab-back, short front overhang design, lots of prestige, but Audi is different because we have the engine in front of the front wheels, so we will never have proportions like this. Then you have VW cars like the Scirocco which are cab-forward, front-drive, and everything is leaning forward. Audi is about having balanced weight over the front and rear wheels.”

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But Audi’s biggest design flaw by far is that all of its models look the same. It’s almost impossible to distinguish an A4 from an A6 or an A8 from a quick glance. However, Lichte want to change that. “In future, each Audi will have its own character. Each will visualize Quattro, but say, an A6 or A8 will have a very different character. In detail, the next A6, A7, A8 and so on will all be very different in muscularity. Immediately you will see the difference. A car is in production for maybe six or seven years. I think it’s dangerous to have all of our cars based around one design [in different scales].”

It’s a great interview and it shows that Marc Lichte seems to be the right man for the job. His enthusiasm and excitement for the brand and its future seems genuine and his ideas seem great. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of these cars. Check out the interview at Top Gear.

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.