Walk along pretty much any high street in the UK, in almost any town, and you will instantly see sights that are familiar.
There will be a Greggs pie shop, a Starbucks, a golden arches perhaps, a Tesco Express and maybe a Subway. And the weird thing is, most of us feel subconsciously comfortable with such familiarity, because it’s been this way now for many years.
When it was first shown to the world at the 1995 Frankfurt motor show, the Audi TT was revolutionary. It looked fresh and exciting and different, and it made the local high street look more sophisticated and interesting somehow, merely by its very presence.
Now, though, the Audi TT has gone down the exact same route as our beloved high street. It’s become predictable and samey and safe. And for a car that was once so bold and brilliant and ground breaking, that’s almost unforgivable, is it not?
Unfortunately, I fear the answer is no; it’s not so much unforgivable as inevitable.
Audi knows what it is doing with the TT way more than the rest of us put together. Audi knows that the TT as a brand is far too precious and profitable to be mucked around with at this stage of its life. And so Audi knows that to veer off-piste with the car’s design would be tantamount to commercial suicide.
So Audi has played it safe with the TT. Of course, it will be a perfectly decent sports car. But it will also be a car that, I predict, will break no boundaries. It will tread no new ground.
The new TT will be as predictable to drive as it is to look at. And so in its own way it will be much like the next new local high street that gets built. It will be comfortably familiar but also, in its way, rather ordinary.
As long as customers keep aspiring to drink coffee at Starbucks and march like lemmings towards and beneath the golden arches, however, cars like the TT will continue to thrive. And they will continue to be reprocessed using the same old design templates.
But you can’t help but stop and wonder sometimes: will it always be like this from now on? Are we forever locked into a world of design that we can predict merely because the bottom line has become so vital? Or will one day some originality return to our lives, to our cars, and to our high streets?.
Who will come up with the next model as exciting and original as the first Audi TT, for instance, now that Audi itself appears to have given up trying?