Marketing a motor car, or brand, is not a job for the faint of heart, for these days the market is more competitive than ever before. The opportunity to get your car seen by massive numbers of people is one that all manufacturers will jump at, so when the Hollywood film industry came calling it was no surprise that Audi, eager to boost its image as a major player in the luxury sporting car market, jumped at the chance.
The film in question was ‘iRobot’, a futuristic science fiction movie released as long ago as 2004 that went on to massive box office success. Featuring box office A-lister Will Smith, Audi could not have wished for a better vehicle for its concept design. It’s worth noting that the Audi RSQ was the first car designed specifically for a movie, rather than being an existing concept requested for use by the directors. It is, of course, every bit as futuristic as an Isaac Asimov influenced movie would allow.
Fantastic & Futuristic Audi RSQ
Audi rose to the occasion with aplomb, creating a car – with specific design features suggested by the director of the film, Alex Proyas, that were intended to portray the typical automobile of 2035 – that is simply out of this world. The interesting thing is that, while it is so outrageously futuristic, it is still very much recognizable as an Audi.
The most notable feature of the Audi RSQ is that it does not run on conventional wheels. Instead it runs on ‘spheres’, a design feature that makes it every bit as fantastic as you would expect a 2035 future car to be. The butterfly hinged doors – a feature borrowed directly from Audi’s sister company Lamborghini – are also surprisingly future specific.
The RSQ is depicted as a police department vehicle in Chicago, driven by Smith as he pursues the errant criminal factions of the time, and yet – despite being a movie prop – Audi put a great deal of effort into making sure the car was as genuine as possible.
The engineers ensured that the Audi RSQ looked as Audi-like as could be and, notably, the company also supplied a variety of other vehicles, heavily disguised, for use in the film.
Audi RSQ – Quick Design and Detail
The whole concept is said to have come together in just ten weeks, an amazing achievement. That certain elements of the RSQ are carried over from existing Audi’s of the time is not denied – the family resemblance is obvious – and also, it is worth noting that certain features of the car were included in the later R8 and TT2 designs. This was another clever move by Audi, who deliberately focused on using the car as a marketing tool for future models.
The designers found the incorporation of spheres where wheels should have been to be a difficult part of the process, but also that it influenced the overall look of the car in the long run. It is not explained why spheres have replaced wheels by 2035 – and the logistical problems that would accompany such a move are too detailed to be discussed here – it is simply intended to be different and futuristic. It works, too, as anyone who has seen the film will tell you!
One interesting note is that there have been suggestions that Audi used the hub-less wheel concept, designed and developed by Swiss engineer and innovator Franco Sbarro, as an inspiration for the sphere’s design. The inherent problems with that design are equally convoluted and protracted, making it a wonder why anyone considers replacing the trusty wheel!
The overall design of the Audi RSQ is somewhat bullish in character, and when it came to the road going R8 much had been done to soften the design. The most notable influence from the film car has to be the inclusion of Audi’s trademark grille, still a corporate feature today.
Audi RSQ – Interior Design
Oddly for a film-only concept the design team took a lot of time detailing the interior. It draws its influence from fighter plane cockpits, and is very much a functional place for Will Smith to be. Interesting is the fact that the car clearly utilises Audi’s real world Multi Media Interface (MMI) system which will be familiar to driver’s of the company’s products today.
All in all, the Audi RSQ was intended as a movie star, but it was designed with many concurrent Audi concepts in mind, and intended to portray the way the company would go in the future. This we have seen in the later, futuristic, and highly rated R8, perhaps the best value supercar on the market today, and also the revised and improved Audi TT2, a car that is infinitely better than its predecessor.
So, what does the future hold for motor manufacturers and the movies? We have already seen BMW take advantage of the i8 concept, and who can overlook the frequent product placement in the James Bond series which has featured Aston Martin, Lotus and BMW, plus many more, across the years?
It used to be that the motor show was the place where public opinion on concept cars was garnered, but it is obvious that putting a concept in a major league Hollywood movie, where it will be seen by millions of viewers across the world, is a sensible move that gets a great deal of exposure at very little cost.
Audi may have opened the floodgates for motor manufacturers flocking to Hollywood to see if there is room for their products in upcoming films. Who knows what comes next? Jason Bourne in a Ferrari FF? Or perhaps one of the many Tom Cruise franchises will see him in the next generation of Range Rover? The possibilities, as they say, are endless.