We’re not really sure about the Mercedes Ener-G-force. On one hand we really like the fact Mercedes keeps doing these full size model/concepts for the LA Design Challenge. It brings the whole competition alive and makes it real (and if other manufacturers followed suit with some of their challenge concepts, LA would instantly become the most exciting show of the year). But we’re not really convinced about the G-wagen references – the old stager is a car that seems to actively resist replacement (like Land Rover’s Defender) and this is far away from being its spiritual successor. But there are things to like…
Such as these ‘G’ insignia lamps, which might be the coolest detail of the show. In theory, they sound cheesy. But in reality, there’s a subtlety and lightness of touch to them that’s been missing from some Mercedes designs recently. You only really read them when you get up close, but the detail execution’s really rather good.
by Joe Simpson
At first glance, there’s nothing much to see on the new Chevy Spark EV – complete with its electric range projection of 55 miles. But step inside and the interface for this new EV is actually quite pleasing and for what is an A-segment city car, you get some a very high-value set of displays. It’s interesting (if not entirely surprising) that Chevy has chosen to effectively use the Volt’s display for the main gauge pack in front of the driver.
But glance to the centre console, and it’s the parts bin of the European Opel Adam that’s been raided – the centre touchscreen the exact same one we were playing with in Paris a few weeks ago. Except that here it’s mounted higher up the IP and therefore easier to see. And it functions not just as an infotainment centre, but a high-resolution display for the electric power flow, range and driving information datasets. We were surprised and quietly impressed, until we noticed all the scratches on the gloss black surround of the centre screen display…
by Joe Simpson
Porsche has now launched a new 911, Boxster and Cayman in the last 15 months. A cynic would say that the evolutionary nature of the design changes means there’s very little for anyone in the design space to get excited about. You turn up knowing exactly what you’re going to see. Having seen the Boxster we were pretty sure we knew how the Cayman was going to look. Our greatest hope was that they might have re-worked the rear light treatment. No such luck.
But there’s a lot more to see than first meets the eye (especially when seen in photographs) with this new generation of Porsches. From 987 to 981 Boxster, there were some major proportional shifts. And so it proves with the new Cayman, too. From the front, it’s as expected, carrying over much of the new Boxster’s sheet metal and meaning it now has a fairly different (for Porsche) face to the 911.
But move round to the rear – and especially when seen from the rear three-quarters – and the Cayman has changed quite significantly. The volumes, forms and proportions are really quite different to the car that went before. Gone are those flying buttresses and the sense of an almost duck-tail. In its place is a much more stubby, fastback coupe-like rear end.
The volume swept by the fall of the roofline to the rear of the car has been increased. It’s pulled further backwards, such that there’s a greater volume of metal above the rear wheel than before. It could have been heavy and clunky, but as with other new members of this new generation of Porsche, it’s exceptionally well managed in terms of volumes and surface resolution. And the Cayman retains its distinct rear fender treatment, which gives it much of its personality and just enough differentiation that you’re not in danger of ‘small 911’ mistaken identity moments.
There are elements of the design that are less well resolved. It’s a shame, given the greater differentiation to the core product than before, that it shares some of its wheel designs with the 911 and the side air intakes seem overly soft in form. But overall it’s very well resolved, and this writer happens to think this is a very fine piece of design – a smart step on for the nameplate. But others we spoke to, including some members of the CDN editorial team, were less sure about it and were just a little bit disappointed, saying they thought it had lost some of the old car’s character. What do you think?
posted by Joe Simpson
We’ve been on the ground in LA since Monday, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying weather that’s a little less inclement than in our native London. With the press days of the LA show moving back, closer to Christmas this year – and the larger Detroit show being just six weeks away – you might have expected this to be a thin pickings kind of show.
But we’re expecting to bring you coverage of a new Porsche Cayman, Toyota RAV4 and Avalon and Subaru Forester production cars. Along with concept debuts of BMW’s i3 coupe (moving the i brand ever closer to a production form), Mercedes Ener-G-force, Smart’s For Jeremy (yes, seriously) and, as we always hope, one or two surprises.
Whether, reviewing that list, you still think it counts as slim pickings, we’ll let you decide. But along with the cars, LA brings us the added interest of the design challenge, the car culture of California and a host of local design studios for whom this is a local show. We always enjoy it over here – there’s a very design-led vibe, even if there aren’t world debuts a plenty. So stay tuned for all the insight, comment and analysis from the CDN team here on the west coast over the next two days.
by Joe Simpson