Just as the nascent Audi A5 was about to be signed off, Walter de’ Silva asked the management for a little more time. Not much more, just another month, but decisive in getting the design right. “The car was virtually the same as it is now”, he explains today, describing the evolution of the project, “but to my eyes and touch, it didn’t express the kind of elegance I was looking for. It didn’t feel completely finished to me.”

De’ Silva can thank design director for the entire Volkswagen group Martin Winterkorn for giving him that precious extra time and Audi’s executives for cooperating by delaying the launch of the car. “This has been a significant experience for me, because I believe that design is not just about creativity and intuition but also finessing. Every object must be honed and perfected up until the last possible moment.”

De’ Silva and his team had a precise goal for their work – a return to formal purity. In recent years, there has been a tendency to over-design in the international scenario, often producing a strained originality with exaggerated lines and a contrived aggressiveness. In short, little more than a shouting match. “In the true GT cars of the past, on the other hand, you just see elegance and balance. This was the spirit of the magnificent Italian GTs of the 1950s and 1960s”, says de’ Silva. “We decided to go against this trend, which is followed by those who only listen to what marketing says, and worked rather on Audi values – sportiness, elegance and great quality.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 165

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