I don't know about you, but I think Freeman Thomas started a movement at Audi with the TT. What a fantastic design it was and remains. The guy is a genius. The lines of his designs have an elegant simplicity that belies the huge effort that must have gone into creating them. So Bauhaus and German, yet appealing, fresh and contemporary.
The TT led to the A2, B6 A4 and A8 while building nicely on the existing A6. In fact, while the TT was desirable in its own right, it made other cars in the Audi range desirable too. Suddenly Audi had a design language that was the talk of the Industry. Cool, understated and timeless. When the RS6 came out, it was THE car to have for all these reasons, not to mention that it also went like a bat out of hell.
Next thing we know, Freeman Thomas has shuffled off to Chrysler and is responsible for the deeply uninpressive Chrysler Crossfire. Even worse news is that Audi then brought in its own Chris Bangle: Walter da Silva, who incidently also cut his teeth designing Italian cars. Da Silva has since set about mending something that was never broken.
Maybe the gaping grille will ultimately make Audis look as distinctive as they were once attractive, but in the meantime, this process of gradual transition is driving Audiphiles nuts as well killing the values of existing models that haven't yet been facelfted.
I quite like the new TT, it is certainly one of the better incarnations of the new grille. But the detailing seems too fussy and less well resolved than the original. In short, new is not always better and I don't think the new TT will have the same appeal long-term as the original version.
Maybe I am unfair to critiicise Walter da Silva in this way, but I'd sure like to see Freeman Thomas back at Audi. I hope you agree.