Audi’s Design Guidelines – The Mobile Sculpture

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September 29, 2008

Source: Audi AG

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Text: The Beauty of TechnologyAudi Design IconsAudi’s Design GuidelinesAudi Concept Design

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Audi design is unmistakable, clothing superior technology in sporty elegance. The brand’s rich and clear design language operates within clear guidelines. They ensure that every model conveys the strong identity of Audi.

“The most important expression of our identity is the face of our vehicles,” says Wolfgang Egger, “and in this context the single-frame grille is the defining element.” The Head of Design for the Audi Group distinguishes three different categories of Audi vehicles: “The cars in our A family, from the A3 to the A8, exhibit a single-frame grille which is classically wide. As for the models in the Q series, the Audi Q5 and Audi Q7, the single-frame grille appears considerably higher. And on sports cars such as the R8 and the TT, it is particularly flat in execution and takes up a position low in the face.”

In addition to this fundamental shape, there are numerous details which allow Audi designers to modify the single-frame grille’s impact: the placement of the license plate, for example, or the width of the chrome frame, or the design of the rods and their chrome supports. Emphatic horizontal lines impart an elegant look, for example to the A models; markedly vertical lines, as in the case of the Q family, make a vigorously powerful impression; twin spokes equate with dynamism, as on the RS.

Creative leeway: the headlights

A vehicle’s headlights similarly afford the creative geniuses at Audi a considerable degree of latitude. A hood which cuts just slightly from above into the edge – as on the Q5 – invigorates a vehicle’s appearance. A wavy lower outline, as on the A4, makes an especially lively impression. And the light-emitting diodes – which Audi frequently incorporates as daytime running lights – express bold determination when they traverse, as an arc, the bottom edge of the headlights. If, however, the diodes are – as on the Audi Q5 – closer to the upper edge, then they result in a more relaxed look.

The third key design element of a vehicle’s nose are the air inlets. They determine whether the vehicle’s face “smiles” or not, depending on whether their corners face upward or downward. Parallelograms seem more authoritarian than trapezoids. Furthermore, a prominently three-dimensional and sharp-edged rendition of the air inlets’ edges and of the front spoiler intensifies sportiness. Wolfgang Egger sums it up: “We concentrate on the three-dimensionality, which gives the face character and symbolizes the power of the engine.”

Every Audi’s engine hood also comes off as three-dimensional; the hood’s beads extend the single frame’s key facet. The hood is an integral component of the vehicle’s body; as Egger puts it: “We enclose taut surfaces with precise lines; we mold hoods out of the material. As for some details, we are talking about tenths of a millimeter. It then comes down to a matter of sheer instinct – as with a work of art. We designers all make use of our creative leeway – and the Audi brand flows through our veins.”

Along a vehicle’s side you will find additional fundamental lines. Prominent, accentuated wheel arches accommodate large wheels, which allow the car to truly hug the pavement. On the Q models, the wheel arches are especially pronounced. “The proper representation of the relationship to the road significantly affects the proportions,” explains Wolfgang Egger. “We dream up cars with the open road in mind.”

Two light-refracting edges divide the side

Every body side on every Audi has two light-refracting edges. The upper edge is the pronounced shoulder, which comes into sharp focus in the tornado line. From this slightly overlapping line, which divides the sheet surfaces above the wheel arches, the sheet sweeps concavely downward; along the bottom of the doors and fenders, the sheet bulges convexly outward, accentuated by the dynamic line above the sills. The dynamic line generally rises toward the vehicle’s tail end; the tornado line, conversely, tailors its appearance to a given vehicle: upward in a wedge-like fashion on the A3, elegantly sweeping on the A5, or calmly strung in the horizontal plane on the A4 Avant.

Every Audi’s body comprises about two thirds of the vehicle’s height; the greenhouse the remaining third. Its curved roof is a “classic curve,” explains Egger: “It is an assured stroke – a flourish which simply flows out of the hand.” Be it the R8 or the Audi Q7: on every model, the roof line looks light and coupe-like – near the front, it begins to gently slope by means of long, smooth columns toward the tail end. This arch gives birth to the characteristic Audi layout of the window strip, with a rear window which tapers to a point and is split on most models by an additional strip.

Audi design symbolizes acceleration and is free of elements which could imply the opposite. It also makes function visible, managing just fine without artificial décor. Audi design is authentic. And it is the sum of attention to detail and technical precision. This is every bit as evident in the delicate interplay between vigor and its echoes as it is in the uncompromisingly exact gap widths between an Audi’s metal panels – in the seemingly invisible laser-welded roof seams on the latest models. This philosophy makes it possible for Audi design to perfectly express the brand’s character.

Horizontal lines accentuate the width

At a vehicle’s tail end, Audi designers underscore the width of its body by emphasizing the horizontal lines. This is true not only of the fundamental shape of the taillights, but also the concave surface underneath them which houses the license plate on most models. The taillights themselves constitute an additional canvas for creative designers: with the help of LED technology, they can conjure up distinctive lighting frames. On the TT, reflectors create an amazing optical illusion of three-dimensionality.

The Audi Q5 and the Q7 have a very special feature – the wraparound tailgate, which makes the tail end appear even wider and concludes in an S-shaped line at the D-posts. Large and prominent exhaust pipes hint at the power of any Audi’s engine; diffuser inserts on sporty models emphasize the dynamic character.

Every Audi is a unified work of art – and the interior design is no exception. Audi interiors echo the lines of the exterior; the cockpit accentuates the horizontal lines and is low-slung. The interior architecture orients itself to the driver; in most models, when seen from above, it is reminiscent of a cascading wave. “We transform function into an elegant experience,” says Wolfgang Egger. “Every Audi is a mobile sculpture.”

Article Index:

Text: The Beauty of TechnologyAudi Design IconsAudi’s Design GuidelinesAudi Concept Design

Photo Gallery: Audi Design

Link: AudiWorld Video Gallery

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