• Word of Advice: Don’t Touch Concept Cars at Auto Shows

You could find yourself kicked out of the manufacturer’s booth, or the entire show!

When you go to an auto show as a member of the press, you’re there to take as many pictures as you can, but the job also comes with its perks. My favorite perk is that you’re allowed to enter and inspect vehicles that are normally blocked off or locked to the general public. Of course, automakers only keep the cars open for so long after their long-awaited debut, but it’s generally enough time to get whatever you need. Well, this year in Detroit, Audi was packed after its press event that debuted the new Audi S5 Cabriolet, the Audi SQ5 SUV, and the Audi Q8 Concept. Naturally, the Q8 concept got the most attention as it will serve as the basis for a new production model in the near future, so I didn’t get much of a chance to check it out in detail at first. Later in the day, however, I did, but I also got into trouble doing it.

See, once the press event is over, manufacturer representatives linger around to make sure you’re not doing anything you shouldn’t do. And, despite the fact that there was no velvet rope and the doors weren’t locked, Audi wasn’t exactly excited about letting me look inside the Q8 concept after the crowds dispersed. Generally, you’re allowed to walk up, open the doors, and get inside most models so, out of natural instinct, I tried the same with the Q8. It has the shaved door handles and touch panels linked to the automatic door poppers, so I was stoked to see how they worked, but my time was ultimately cut short. I started at the rear hatch to get a shot of the rear cargo area, but once the door was open, I had the chance to snap one picture before the rep came over, shut the hatch, and told me “no.”

“Fair Enough,” I thought, as I proceeded to the side of the Q8 and started to snap a few shots through the glass. I didn’t intend to do so, but I rubbed the little Audi logo on the front door with my arm, and the door opened. Being watched at that point, the rep came over and asked me to leave. Security then walked me out of Audi’s show floor and asked me not to return for the day. If I did, my credentials would be revoked, and I would be escorted out of the show. I returned the second day and got some more pictures, but I made it a point not to open the car again. My point here is that if they are that sensitive with members of the media, it’s probably best for you to avoid trying out those electric door poppers for yourself – you’ll probably find yourself escorted to the front door and unable to return.

And, for the record, I’m not bashing Audi at all – I get it. This is a concept car, there’s only one in existence, and they don’t want anything to happen to it. Believe me, just about everyone wanted to touch those electric door poppers. But, Audi was one of the few manufacturers that didn’t have their concept blocked off completely, so kudos to them. I couldn’t get within 20 feet of the Chrysler Portal or the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, for example, so the fact that I was able to get that close to the Q8 was actually quite surprising. Either way, it’s probably best to follow the rules, don’t crawl under the ropes, and don’t expect to sit inside any of the concepts.


Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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