The essence of Gran Tourismo

The shapely contours of the Audi A5 are considered a masterpiece — which only makes the challenge facing the Audi team designing the second-generation Gran Turismo all the more daunting.
Audi Magazin Spotify-Playlist Audi A5


The essence of Gran Turismo

  • Chet Faker - No Diggity
  • Melissa Laveaux - Crazy In Love
  • Sainte Etienne - Only Love Can Break
  • Your HeartNostalgia 77 vs. Alive Russell - Seven
  • Nation ArmyGrace Mitchell - ManeaterAztec
  • Camera - JumpPomplamoose - Like A Prayer
  • Feist - Inside And Out
  • Sia - California Dreamin´
  • Eden xo - Hold Me Now
  • Kygo Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing (Kygo Remix)
  • Florance + The Machine - You´ve Got The Love
  • Chromatics - Girls Just Want To Have Fun 
  • Tiga - Hot In Herre
  • Senor Coconut - Around The World (Intro)
  • The Mike Flowers Pops - Wonderwall
  • Cake - I Will Survive
  • Nouvelle Vague - Just Cant Get Enough
  • Gardiner Sisters - Happy
  • Hot Chip - Dancing In The Dark
  • Grace Jones - La vie en rose



Audi Magazine Spotify playlist Audi A5  

When the Audi A5 was launched in 2007, it didn’t just bowl the public over. Even its creator, usually a man more inclined to understatement, reached for superlatives: “It’s the most beautiful car that I have ever designed,” said Walter de Silva, head of Audi design at the time. And industry experts were no less effusive about the new coupé’s elegantly sporty design. It’s unanimous — the Audi A5 is probably one of the most magnificent grand tourers ever to be built. Today, the model is regarded as a momentous milestone in the development of the four rings’ aesthetic.

The privilege of shaping the second-generation Audi A5 exterior went to a team of three designers — Frank Lamberty, Jakob Hirzel and Stephan Fahr-Becker. In an in-house competition, their vision of the new Gran Turismo proved the most compelling. “An assignment like this is both a blessing and a curse. After all, the car is nothing short of an icon. Which meant that we had a conceptual decision to make — do we treat it with the greatest of deference, putting on the kid gloves, or should the new version make an equally fresh, distinctive statement?” says Frank Lamberty. “To have a hand in creating the new Audi A5 was a great honor,” adds Jakob Hirzel.

Four years ago, the team set to work on lending new shape to a contemporary classic. Right from the start, the exterior designer trio’s concept envisaged retaining the coupé’s iconic elements but further magnifying them to meaningful effect. This was above all the intention with the signature wave that sweeps over the wheel arches — something first seen when the Audi A5 premiered. Even today, this is instrumental to the car’s sporty, emotionally charged aura. To further accentuate the body’s three-dimensional muscularity side on, Hirzel and his colleagues added a bone — a rounded ridge below the wave — that creates an exciting shift in the play of light over the body. As Jakob Hirzel explains, “Below the ridge, the metal sheeting looks darker; above, it appears lighter. This produces a striking effect because it lends the entire car a brawnier, more athletic look.” An added upshot is that the eye is drawn to a lower focal point, making the coupé appear to crouch down closer to the tarmac.

Another hallmark of the Audi A5 is the triangular C-pillar, which this time breaks the mold by not melting softly into the body as might be expected. Jakob Hirzel admits, “We intentionally introduced a clean break between the surfaces so that the cabin rests as a three-dimensional entity on top of the body.” This means the angle of the rear side window’s upper edge may, at first glance, seem purely incidental — which couldn’t be further from the truth. “It creates the impression that the C-pillar originates well forward. This is decisive because it positions the pillar directly over the wheel arch, generating the desired dynamism,” says Hirzel. After all, design should always take its cue from those areas where Audi is a technology frontrunner. And since quattro permanent all-wheel drive is available as an optional extra with the new Audi A5, all four wheels deserve equal emphasis. This equilibrium is not only evident in the side view but also from above. The car’s body is broader at both the nose and tail — where the beginning and end of the wave cause the surface to bulge — than in the middle.

One notable formal detail lies below the shoulder line, where the fender and door hinge meet. A small chrome element not only echoes the air vents on classic GT cars, but also serves to visually extend the hood. Viewed head on, the second-generation Audi A5 model’s status as a modern take on the Gran Turismo — a coupé whose elegance is matched only by its sportiness — is especially striking. The bulge of a power dome beneath the stretched engine hood testifies to the mighty beast beneath. As if there were any doubt, the radiator grille’s proportions drive the message home. Compared to the previous model, the grille has gained in
more than mere width. The backward tilt of the grille’s upper edge means that the headlights appear to be positioned over it, spotlighting its commanding presence. Frank Lamberty describes it as “giving the car a very different character. What sets the new Audi A5 apart from the Audi A4 is its profoundly sports-car-like flair. There’s nothing aggressive about it, just infinitely poised.” This is in no small part attributable to the headlights themselves, which merge seamlessly with the hood, pointing up one of Audi design’s great strengths: “For evidence of the exemplary quality and attention to detail in both design and functionality, look no further than the barely-there joins between the headlights and hood. It’s virtually impossible to get a closer fit between components,” says Stephan Fahr-Becker.  

This exacting craftsmanship also extends to the rear of the new Audi A5, where precision joins skirt the sharp lateral separation edge that borders the forward-leaning tail. Again, this underscores the design’s sculptural quality. Jakob Hirzel explains, “The payoff is that all surfaces appear to strain under a kind of internal pressure, as if tensed like muscles — adding once more to the car’s beefy look and feel.” The compelling rear view also owes much to the slim lighting units. With their clear separation of light from shadow, the taillights capture the gaze. The third brake light is a particularly standout feature. Instead of being installed behind the rear window as usual, it’s fitted in a narrow notch under the lip of the roof and runs the entire breadth of the rear windscreen, in turn emphasizing the car’s width. As an added bonus resulting from this compact installation, the designers were able to lower the roof by five millimeters. That might not sound like much, but it’s further testimony to the systematic pursuit of another of the A5 designers’ self-imposed goals. “We guarded fiercely against the car appearing bloated in any way,” says Stephan Fahr-Becker.

It can already be declared with confidence that the challenge exterior team originally took on has been mastered with finesse. They’ve pulled off the balancing act between preserving and progressing, between retaining original shapes and pushing the envelope in all the right places. Looking back, Stephan Fahr-Becker remarks, “To work on the creation of a new Audi model is always daunting. With the Audi A5, perhaps even more so than usual.”


Hermann J. Müller (copy), Tobias Hutzler (photos)

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