Back at the Geneva motor show, we were subtly impressed with Laurens van den Acker’s custom Adidas tennis shoes that paid homage to the DeZir concept. Fast forward to Frankfurt and yet another pair of custom three-stripes have been rolled out. Suitably finished in three shades of green, the ‘Z27 Work’ shoes are a worthy successor to the red items he sported back in March.
The Opel is the third of three urban mobility concepts on show in Frankfurt. While the VW Nils follows a spare, glider-like product aesthetic and the Audi Urban Concept has a minature race car feel, the Opel is more like the kind of thing one might expect when someone mentions the words ‘urban’, ‘mobility’ and ‘concept together in the same sentence. Developed with Kiska, there are some clever, logical elements to its design. We were particularly impressed with the interior package and layout. But as a vision of the future of mobility, its aesthetic is a little too reminiscent of projects we’ve been seeing in this space for the last 10 years or so.
The new Fiat Panda is a deeply impressive step up in perceived quality over its predecessor, yet the most alluring part of the display (for me, at least) is the very early Giugiaro Panda 30 looking down on its bigger, more refined yet less pure forebear.
The new Fiat Panda has caused a bit of a stir here in Frankfurt. There’s a split view on the exterior design. Some designers we’ve spoken to have bemoaned the loss of the pure, utilitarian form of the previous generation car. Others, however, think it’s an intelligent update, one that brings a more high quality feel without sacrificing any of the last car’s charm.
One thing they all agree on is the impressiveness of the interior design. The Panda is the most obvious example in car design today of taking a theme, the squircle (a slightly rounded-edge square or squashed circle) and simply running with it. Nowhere is this more evident than in the interior, which is an absolute joy to behold by small car standards. The squircle shape is everywhere – it forms the door pull, the HVAC controls, the gauge pack instrument surrounds, even the seat height adjustor.
You get in and just smile. That’s before you notice little details – like the plastic grain on the door tops, whose graining actually spells out Panda in miniature.
The VW Up may have taken small car quality, in a Germanic sense, to a new level, but the Panda shows that the Italians can still teach the world a thing or too about how you do small cars on a budget. Bravo!
Amidst the furor of the new 991 launch was a small reminder of the origins of the car. Neatly juxtaposed against a series of new blue and silver 911s was an elegant and effortlessly cool 1963 Typ901. There may have been a rush to see the latest 911, but it was the car launched at this motor show 48 years ago that stopped me in my tracks.