Audi is celebrating its 100th birthday as a brand these days, with ceremonies that included the unveiling of a 32-foot-long, 10-ton model of the Audi TT sports car.
So there was much anticipation around a gala event held last night at the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt, at which the company promised to unveil two brand-new Audi models in the presence of German prime minister Angela Merkel, among others.
One was the much-teased 2010 Audi A5 Sportback, a five-door hatchback version of the sleek 2009 Audi A5 coupe. It's received widespread acclaim for its styling, though it apparently won't be sold in the US. That hatchback problem, you know.
But what could the other new model be? A new concept? The radical Audi A1 city car? An all-electric vehicle?
Nope. It was ... a grand piano.
Not just any piano, of course. The Audi Design Studio has partnered with Vienna piano maker Bösendorfer to reflect its design philosophy in a modern concert grand piano. The retail price is a cool 100,000 Euros (roughly $140,000).
To quote the company, "This musical instrument, with its characteristically curvaceous body, was designed by the Audi Design Studio in Munich and will be used as a concert piano for future prestigious musical events."
Chinese star pianist Lang Lang staged the very first public performance on the new piano, in front of an invited audience of 1,800. Other cultural highlights of the event included the illumination of the Audi Forum by light artist Gerry Hofstetter, and the first performance by the New Frankfurt Philharmonic of a symphony composed specially for the ceremony by music producer Leslie Mandoki.
So there you have it. Move over, Steinway; there's a new cowboy in town, and he's named Audi Design.
Audi A5 Sportback ConceptEnlarge Photo
[Audi press release]