Audi, well known for creating some of the most desired automotive interiors in the business, is looking to push the boundaries of personalization and further increase the levels of quality of interior design in its vehicles.
The first vehicle to benefit from this will be the new Q3, revealed at the Shanghai motor show in April. Its interior contains a new style of inlays made from larch wood and aluminum, a range of interior colors and an optional LED interior light package.
Audi's new crossover offers potential buyers four more material options than other models in the range, including two new ones developed by Rosalie Schrader, a designer working in Audi's Color and Trim team, led by Susanne Stöbe.
"We want to give the exterior and the interior a strong aesthetic – its very own soul," Schrader says.
The standard inlays within the Q3 – which come in platinum or truffle beige, dependent on the interior color – are designed to appear more metallic and robust compared to their predecessors as the Audi design team continues to seek new ideas.
One such design is a dark brown, open-pored inlay made of larch wood. The inlay has retained its natural wood structure and slightly rough surface feel as the Audi team has largely avoided the application of varnish. The manufacturing process, developed in partnership with a supplier, enables the inlay to appear more three-dimensional and more natural.
The manufacturing process aims to highlight the growth phases of the wood, with slightly raised stripes in the soft structure the result of the fast growth stage. The late wood that grows in summer condenses into a harder structure in the wood relief, making these stripes deeper.
Another new feature is a 3D aluminum mesh material constructed from two components. A honeycomb pattern emerges when the surface of finely brushed aluminum is stamped out, with each hexagon having a diameter of 2.5mm – 12 of them fit within a square centimeter. A holographic white surface with a three-dimensional appearance lies under the aluminum mesh.
"We wanted to combine two technically sophisticated surfaces in order to produce a completely new look," says Stöbe.
The steering wheel and gearshift are finished in leather, while many of the controls feature an aluminum-look finish. The upholstery is offered in two standard and two optional materials, along with Milano and Fine Nappa leather as well as a combination of leather and Alcantara.
The Audi Q3's instrument panel is offered in two colors, while five color combinations are possible within the car – black/black, black/chestnut brown, black/chennai brown, black/titanium gray and truffle beige/pistachio beige. The S line sport package transforms the vehicle's interior entirely to black.
"The color palette ranges from opaque colors to cool, technical gray and black tones, to expressive interior colors," Schrader points out. "The natural colors allow us to underscore the off-road character of the car especially well."
The optional interior LED light package provides interior and reading light by illuminating the doors, headlining, footwells, vanity mirrors, storage compartments and even the cupholders. The lights have also been designed for low energy consumption. The Bose surround sound system is another optional extra, and the frames of the woofer and mid-range speakers in the front doors form rings of white light.
Other extras designed for the Q3 include a hard-drive-based navigation system that operates alongside a seven-inch color screen, on-board Internet access and a parallel parking assistant that uses 12 ultrasonic sensors to help when maneuvering in narrow spaces.