What's Wrong With This Picture: Back Like That Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
what s wrong with this picture back like that edition

Just as Toyota has coasted in recent years on a reputation built some time ago, Audi’s latest round of interior-cheapening has gone largely unremarked-upon in the motoring press. Sitting in the new A4, I don’t find myself thinking, as Motor Trend did, that its “high-quality materials and clean, attractive design continue to live up to Audi’s stellar reputation as the industry benchmark.” In fact, the interiors of nearly every current Audi (except the A8 and TT) strike me as cheap, disappointing and monumentally uninspired. In other words, the opposite of living up to Audi’s reputation.

Good thing the reviewers haven’t noticed, because this picture of the next-generation A6 [via Auto Motor und Sport print edition] seems to indicate that the current batch of dreary interiors was a fluke. If the production model [on sale in Germany in early 2011] comes anywhere close to this A8-inspired vision, with its stripped-down, yet distinctive aesthetic (complete with wood finish apparently borrowed from the Phantom Drophead Coupe’s rear deck), we’ll all be able to pretend that Audi never lost its way. Which, frankly, is a lot easier than figuring out a new consensus for best interiors in the industry.

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  • Z9 Z9 on Mar 16, 2010

    I have to concur with those who complain about Audi interiors falling apart. Here is an incomplete list of the pieces of plastic that fell off my 2002 Allroad during the 87,000 miles we owned it: - cover on both driver and passenger seat motors (or something) -- fell off almost immediately, never stayed on, ever. Just threw them away. - passenger side power seat fore-aft switch button (fortunately it was set at a decent position at time of death); due to stupid design involving tiny metal pins that disappeared once the button fell off, required a $400 replacement part as well as removing the entire seat since the part installed into the seat from the inside - cargo area cover (retaining thingies broke almost immediately) - all four cup holders (over-engineered nightmares) -- breakage of the cute pop-up center console cup holder took many other stupid little pieces of plastic with it into the abyss - rear lid release switch button on driver-side door sill -- just popped out and disappeared - both rear ashtrays - front ashtray / coin holder complex - over-engineered weird rotating cover on 12V power receptacle in cargo area - fuzzy-covered panel on inside of rear lid - warning triangle retainer above aforementioned fuzzy-covered panel - most of the pieces of the back end of the center console including two round covers on either side of the center armrest hiding an incredible solid machined aluminum hinge assembly that permitted the armrest to rotate 90 degrees - radio power button / volume knob; fortunately it could be swapped with the tuning knob - and of course ever Audi of this vintage has obscured the meaning of various buttons coated in heat-shrunk rubbery plastic (for example the + and - buttons for the climate control become undifferentiated blobs of white), replacement involves removal of the radio and lots more All of this -- that I felt like replacing anyway -- came to well over $2000 in parts alone. Essentially, most of the breakages related to the use of little plastic tabs that were not up to the forces they were being asked to carry, or should never have been interacting with the metal underneath them. The mechanical integrity of the car was not much better and a lot of the common problems were due to a similar misguided use of materials -- the air suspension air bags that would puncture from normal road dirt, the original 2.7T water pump with the plastic impeller, etc.

  • William442 William442 on Mar 16, 2010

    Agreed. Where are the underseat drawers, the slot for the owner's manual, among many other missing items?

  • Jeff Waingrow Jeff Waingrow on Mar 16, 2010

    I must be easy on interiors. My last A4 (2006) never had anything break, wear out or fall off. My current A4 with 20,000 miles, is the same story. In fact, the two cars, with a combined 69,000 miles, have never had a repair done except for those problematic lower control arms on the current one. As for comparing the two models, there's no question that the '06 had better materials quality, though the styling was overly dull. Now the styling is better but the plastics in particular are cheaper looking and more prevalent. As for an overall comparison of the two, the newer model is far better in most every respect. My current 4 cylinder is considerably faster than the previous one, and it rides better and handles much better. However, it maybe be slightly noisier, though not by much. It's also roomier inside, though some might prefer a smaller car. To me, the most unforgiveable thing they did was put a silver painted piece of plastic across the driver's side of the dash surrounding the gauges. Would it have cost so much to use aluminum or stainless steel in such a prominent spot? I think they even do this in the upmarket models. A dumb misstep. Conclusion though is that it's still a very satisfying car and I'd almost certainly get another if I needed to.

  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Mar 16, 2010

    Anybody else get an early 80s deja vu looking at that ad? Perhaps a Pioneer ad?