Breathing life into automotive colours.
They often have ‘unusual’ names like ‘Quantum grey’ and ‘Dragon orange’ – but what do they mean and where do the names of Audi’s automotive colours come from?
3 February, 2022
Choosing just the right colour for a car is a deeply personal thing, influenced by a million different factors in each individual’s case. Colour choice and indeed paint finish have expanded exponentially over the years thanks to technological advances, and Audi has earned an enviable reputation for the exacting processes it employs to produce its lustrous paint finishes.
Certainly the demand for dramatic car paint finishes is on the rise and quite aside from the Audi exclusive service which offers bespoke colour finishes to the customer’s exact requirements, the list of available colours and finishes available across the model range is extensive to say the least.
The days of opting for say a ‘red’ car are long gone. Different shades or hues of a colour are given often exotic names to evoke a true sense of the colour – Matador red or Tango for example. Then there are differing finishes – metallic, pearl or even crystal effects like Sebring Black, where glass flakes are combined with metallic effects to create additional glitter points in the paint.
Coming up with colour suggestions for a new model is the job of the Colour & Trim team of Audi Design and the Product Marketing team, working closely together.
Different shades or hues of a colour are given often exotic names to evoke a true sense of the colour
To arrive at a new model colour, the teams first look at trends that are tracked by the design studios in Ingolstadt, Beijing, and Malibu
“Design remains the top reason for purchasing an Audi,” says Susan Nolte, responsible for exterior colours within the Product Marketing Special Equipment team at Audi.
“And the colour of the vehicle is extremely important, as it’s an expression of a driver’s personality.”
To arrive at a new colour, the teams first look at trends that are tracked by the design studios in Ingolstadt, Beijing, and Malibu. Myriad factors can influence the popularity of new colours or trending hues and yet its interesting to note that three out of four customers who purchase new vehicles in Germany currently prefer the more traditional white, black, grey or silver, followed by blue, which attracts 10 percent of German cutomers.
Of course the actual name of the colour plays a role in its acceptance as well and coming up with the right name that accurately describes the colour is an important part of the equation.
“What is particularly important here is that the names given to the colours describe each colour as precisely as possible,” says Nolte.
“The first part of the name is the creative element, but it also needs to evoke a connection with the colour,” she says.
Inspiration for names can come from anywhere, although Audi often uses terms inspired by the world of geography and from flora and fauna. Apple green for the revised Q2 or Python yellow are prime examples, but there is no shortage of others. Typhoon grey, Glacier white and Galaxy blue all fall into this category, while Dragon orange – the hero colour for the Audi Q8 drew more on mythology than than the natural world.
Not surprising for a brand with such a deep motorsport tradition, racetracks from around the world also play an important role in naming colours. Think Sonoma green, Suzuka grey, Daytona grey and Kyalami green to name just a few.
Some colours are used across all models while others are used for specific models, with Audi offering up to a dozen different colour choices for any given model – and that’s before factoring in the special colours for RS models.
At the end of the day though, it’s all a matter of personal preference. There is no evidence to support the old saying that red cars go fastest or that black vehicles actually have any ‘stealth’ properties – but every colour imparts a special character all its own.
Not surprising for a brand with such a deep motorsport tradition, racetracks from around the world also play an important role in naming colours
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