Design boss hints at new luxury coupé to take on forthcoming BMW halo model
Audi design boss Marc Lichte is eager for the brand to produce a luxury coupé to rival the upcoming BMW 8 Series, but does not believe that market demand is currently strong enough to justify such a model.
When asked about Audi’s lack of presence in the segment, Lichte said: “I love the shape of a two-door coupé, but it is also true that the [sales] volumes [for them] are much lower than for four-doors. In the future, who knows? We have many ideas in this direction.”
The luxury coupés sector has enjoyed a resurgence with the forthcoming 8 Series, which will go head to head with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé, as well as the new Polestar 1, which will be the first model from Volvo’s new performance sub-brand.
I love the shape of a two-door coupé but the volumes are lower
Audi has shifted its attention away from two-doors in recent years, but the Prologue concept car, revealed at the Los Angeles motor show in 2014, hinted at how a range-topping coupé from Ingolstadt might look. The Prologue, one of Lichte’s first designs for the company, was ostensibly a car to preview Audi’s then-new design language, but could yet be the inspiration for the oft-mooted A9 two-door flagship.
The Prologue concept was pitched as a potential sister car to the current A8, which was still in development at the time. At 5100mm in length, 1950mm in width and 1390mm in height, the show car is 35mm shorter, 1mm narrower and 70mm lower than the A8.
Despite the growing number of luxury coupé offerings from rival manufacturers, a Lichte-penned two-door is unlikely to arrive before 2019, because Audi’s current model schedule features four fast-approaching new arrivals.
When asked when a coupé might arrive, Lichte said: “First we must launch the A6, then we have the Q8 next year, A1 and Q3.
“We won’t do anything before this. It’s step by step.”
AUDI’S NEW DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
Audi is ditching the ‘Russian doll’ design philosophy it has become synonymous with in order to give upcoming models more defined looks.
Like its German rivals Mercedes and BMW, the Ingolstadt car maker’s designers have in recent years employed a technique of consistency across the bulk of its line-up. However, since the launch of the Q2, model designs have become more varied.
“This [repetition] design process was used to make Audis more recognisable in newer and emerging markets like China,” explained the company’s chief executive, Rupert Stadler. “Now we are well known in China, we can begin to change this philosophy and give each car its own look.”
Design boss Marc Lichte added: “We recognise that there is a place for more differentiation now. Since our cars are in production for a minimum of six years, in today’s world I think each model should have its own design to be attractive for this long time.”
Lichte believes the biggest step forward for design at Audi will come when the marque launches more electric cars after the E-tron quattro SUV, which is due on roads next year.
He said that the more compact dimensions of electric powertrains means “proportions can change” for the better.
“Design will go in a very different way,” Lichte continued. “[Designers] will have more material space to play with, so we’ll be able to produce [vehicles with] shorter overhangs and lower bonnets. It makes for a more attractive design overall.”