What is going on with German luxury car strategy? Barely a week after the forgettable BM 5 was shown Audi have been unveiling their flagship A8, and I’m sorry to say it ain’t a looker. What was once an athletic and sophisticated car has gained some serious middle-aged spread, and even the obligatory LED lights can’t distract from the fact that it’s a bit of a brute;
There’s a fairly severe transition between bodyside and headlamp cluster, while at the rear there’s a similar feature which wraps into perhaps the most surprising area; a heavily-curved trunklid profile.
Being a bit unkind it reminds me of the Renault Safrane….
The rot set in with the previous D3 A8 which introduced the barn-door grille, which so dominated the car it kind of lead with its chin, but it did have tasty wheels;
So take a look at the original D2 A8 – there’s a simplicity to its style; a bodyside uncluttered by swage-lines or diverting detail. Audi cleverly communicated the cars’ lightweight aluminium construction with ultra clean design and minimal clutter… Look at the tiny front grille, the epitome of subtlety next to the gaping hole which adorns the latest car;
What I really liked about this car was Audi designers realised that the status and gravitas demanded with this class of car is not dependent on exaggerated grilles and visual bulk.
It’s not all bad, there are some exquisite details which Audi do as well as anybody. Check the LED signature lighting; almost menacing, damn cool..
Funky T-bar gearshift..
Ok, so I can see Audi are introducing elements of ‘edgy’ surfacing into the A8, but I’m struggling to see where the progress over the older model is. I’m sure the biggest A8 market is North America, and it’s possible that Audi’s core customer is more conservative than, say, Jaguar’s. I’m no Jag fanboy, but they took a risk with the XJ – a big, potentially customer-alienating risk, and ultimately the proof will be in the sales figures. But park an XJ next to this A8, and the Audi looks like it’s from a different era.