Finally, at Audi you can now also dream

On the stage of Theater Amsterdam, Humberto Tan interviews Bram Schot in front of an audience of 800 badly fitting salesman’s jackets, Audi bobos and a pinch of newsreel. Schot is the new Dutch CEO of Audi, who flew to his country of origin to present the Audi E-tron. The weight of its presence is desirable, because that plug-in SUV should make it like lightning. Otherwise, the folks will buy even more fanatical Teslas for the at least 84 grand that Audi asks and we really can’t have that.

Tesla was a wake-up call, Schot rightly says after all his European colleagues. Tan asks Schot what he plans to do with that brand. Well, he has explained to his people that they can organize their day more efficiently. Then they have time to dream. There he says something, Audi could use some imagination. In the impact resistance of the slogan advantage through technology had some wear and tear in recent years. Now, instead of wing mirrors, the E-tron has cameras that project their images onto displays in the doors. If those aren’t steps! They want to see that adventure more often in Ingolstadt, so that all the big boys will soon catch on with an Audi like Tan on this one. Wet dream, he beeps a little too excitedly to the timid designer who explains the car in endearing German-English. That is of course also because he himself has an E-tron on order and is supposed to be paid hurrah by Audi, but he skillfully configures the desired wow effect; a car that excites the men.

It must. Audi makes good to very good cars. But either they stand at right angles to the times like the feudally pompous top models, or they don’t look good, or they are, like the new A1 Sportback, priceless variations on existing cars that you buy from group members Volkswagen and Seat for much less. Glitzy touchscreen and safety technology masks a fundamentally anachronistic attitude about the car’s place in society. Those armored Audi grilles calibrate the bet: to impress.

The penny dropped during a flight to Switzerland. I flew to Zurich with Easyjet. This is now practically free. But 37 euros cost my contribution to the poisoning of the atmosphere for which the good Dutch motorist is allowed to bleed fiscally. It was a wonderful trip. For the coffee bend that you don’t even drink at KLM with a victim compensation, Easyjet asks sensible misery surcharge, but you fly just as pleasantly and the flight attendants smile heavenly in the same aircraft of the same year.

Foot too big

In short, here lies the subsistence problem of small Audis. Within the VW group, KLM must excel above the Seat Ibiza Ryanair and the VW Polo Easyjet. An Audi, however small, must be an exclusive proposition. There is something to be done about it. An own style, an own shape, own technique, higher prices. But this time, Operation Upgrade was not to cost the world. VW is forced to live on too much. The fines for cheating diesels and billions in investments in electric cars weigh heavily on the budget. So the new A1 arose on the platform of the popular sisters. Same engines, same technology, higher prices. Nor does he look three strokes more special. If you could give the previous A1 some personality, the new one is a neatly taut Polo and Ibiza derivative with VIP surcharge and premium make-up that seems semi-sophisticated as it tries to sell. The racy cooling slots above the single-frame grille and the copper-colored 17-inch rims disguise three timid VW cylinders. He is a girl from Zeeland after a smeared lubrication at the make-up artist. The digital dashboard, in premium Esperanto ‘virtual cockpit’, is also available for the Polo. One one. Until the checkout.

With a little bit of this and that you can shoot over 40,000 euros. For that you have mind you, already a great electric Kia or Hyundai with a greater range than the E-tron of 84 – that’s how the proportions are these days. How much better can the Audi be than the excellent Seat and VW confection that will cost you ten to fifteen thousand less, depending on the finery? Voilà, there we go. He sets the bar too high to jump over it almighty with the given resources. I praised the Ibiza and the Polo, I am forced to praise the A1 three times over. Great little car. But heaven.