Posts Tagged "2011"

Detail: Zagato 500

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

Sitting next door to a Lancia stand, where Lancias were badged as Chryslers, and Chryslers as Lancias (yes – we’re confused too) the Zagato 500 coupe struggled for attention. And while the trademark Zagato double bubble roof-line didn’t really work on the diminutive form of the 500, overall this was a quietly impressive and appealing piece of work. Of particular appeal is this plastic window surround, which I thought was an eye-catching detail, and creates an interesting surface break between C-pillar and roofline.

Joe Simpson

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Comment + gallery: Toyota’s Yaris HSD concept

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

The HSD concept previews the design direction for the next generation Yaris, but there’s nothing groundbreaking here…

Showcasing Toyota’s proprietary hybrid technology in a B-segment package, the monovolume exterior design features some hybrid-specific styling cues previously seen on the Prius and Lexus RX450h. These visual identifiers include the LED headlamps and taillamps and blue Toyota badges.

Within compact exterior dimensions is a ‘spacious practical interior’, Toyota claims. We would have liked to see this for ourselves, but the blacked-out windows of the show car demonstrate that it’s not yet been finished.

Eric Gallina

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Comment: Volkswagen Bulli – the surfaces, the scowl and the lie flat bed

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

The Bulli has proven to be a conversation-provoking concept in Geneva this year. Not all are impressed with it, something we suspect is due to fond memories of the MicroBus concept from 2001 and the fact that it references the original microbus in a more conscious and obvious manner than the previous SpaceUp! Concept.

Nevertheless, this is yet another impressive Up! platform variant, and – perhaps most excitingly from the consumer’s perspective – appears to be 85 percent production ready. The pressings, door cards, secondary lamp units that provide mandatory illumination for when the tailgate is lifted at night, and the mouldings and seals all speak real road more than show stand.

Surfacing impresses – note how the outer surface runs out of the flipped hockey-stick graphic inside the taillamp

One aspect that deeply impresses is the simple, elegantly resolved tailgate surfaces you can see in the picture above. A beautiful, undercut bevel surface which marks the colourway division and runs continuously around the car also impresses, yet it creates the biggest design detraction as it runs into the DRG.

The issue is caused by this bevel line turning down to form the edge of a positive surface between the lamps, on which sits a huge VW logo. The overall impression of the DRG references the original Microbus, but looks oddly aggressive. The problem is that, as the bevel surface turns from horizontal to vertical, it overcuts above the lamps, turning the Bulli’s DRG expression into a scowl.



Bevel surface (seen running at the junction of the colour ways, runs around the car but turns down  at the inner edge of the lights, creating a scowl

It’s an appearance that’s completely at odds with the ethos of the rest of the car, which features a show-stoppingly cool interior, complete with iPad interface and two rows of three-abreast bench seats, which fold out to create a double bed. It’s a lovely reference to the past, but more importantly, this too appears close to production – it’s similar to the system used in the bigger California.

(Top) iPad slots into a on the IP, which swivels on an arm that – iconically – seems similar to the one used in the previous generation iMac. (Bottom) Owen Ready of Car Design News helps put the Bulli’s interior into its double bed configuration

If this car does make production relatively intact, VW could have a huge hit on its hands. It’s easy and obvious to see how vehicle this would appeal to the empty-nesting baby boomer generation who remember the original with such fondness. Yet it’s also easy to see it tugging at the at-once emotional and rational-thinking Gen-Y, that’s otherwise falling out of love with the car and also to young families looking for space and practicality without sacrificing style. But what really sets the Bulli apart is a sense of light-hearted fun and freedom of movement, that’s straight from the copy book of the original. As a riposte to the current atmosphere of austerity, it is a perfect antidote and a real breath of fresh air.

Joe Simpson

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Comment: Italdesign Giugiaro’s VWs (Tex and Go!)

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

The Go!

This is the first show at which ItalDesign Giugiaro has exhibited since the Carrozzeria became part of the Volkswagen group. It was slightly odd to see Giugiaro away from its traditional home on the other side of hall 2: it’s now relocated to a position opposite the Teutonic, bright-white environs of the VW stand.

Most designers we spoke to at the show felt that the two Volkswagen-badged designs felt slightly dated and ultimately offered little new. It might sound clichéd, but we couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed there wasn’t something more distinct or groundbreaking, especially given Giugiaro’s VW history with the first Golf not to mention its rich history of concept design.

The Tex

The Tex’s overall form is reminiscent of some of the work ItalDesign Giugiaro has previously done for the Italian brands and it may have worked better as a Seat than a Volkswagen. The interior shows both a theme and detail design elements we’ve seen on previous Volkswagen pre-production concepts.

The Go! is in many ways the more intriguing and appealing piece of design. It appears to be based on the forthcoming VW Up! platform, and shows a somewhat different aesthetic direction to the one VW has been pursuing with the line to date. The high roofline combines with the dropped belt-line of the DLO (itself divided into two distinct sections by a running bar which carries the rear view camera) to evoke a graphic element reminiscent of some of the most famous Carrozzeria concept cars of the 1970s.

Combined with the glass roof this feature creates an interior ambience of incredible airiness. The seat design and light beige upholstery exaggerates this sensation and gives the interior of this VW-branded concept real southern European warmth.

While VW has only recently settled on a DRG that it is quickly applying across its entire range, these concepts illustrate a potential alternative future direction for the face of VW. It manages to still speak of the brand but is friendlier and less stark.

It’s easy to criticise many aspects of these designs, but at least they avoid the surface language and sharp shut-line intersection points that creates a ‘guess the VW group brand’ design appearance that afflicts the Seat and Skoda concepts seen nearby. As a counterpoint to VW’s main studios’ refined – often very strategic work – these concepts appear to illustrate the usefulness of having a separate, yet in-house consultancy, to provide a counter-point to work done in the primary design studios.

It’s just a shame that they lack the consistency and exquisite execution that has been a characteristic of many recent Volkswagen concepts, a sense exacerbated by the beautifully resolved Bulli, which glowers at these cars from across the walkway.

Joe Simpson

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Details: Show stands

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

It’s easy to be completely engrossed by the cars at the motorshow. Clearly, they should be the number one priority but, increasingly, stand design is important too, not only influencing how the cars themselves are perceived, but as a way of communicating brand values. Here are a few of my favourites stand details from this year:

Joe Simpson

VW’s Bulli is an exceptionally well-executed piece of design, evoking a spirit of a by-gone era. It’s especially impressive to see VW’s modern twist on the petrol pump with this electric charging unit that stands alongside the car, topped with a vast VW roundel. The petrol pump and station has formed such a strong part of the automotive-inspired architecture of the last century that it’d be sad to think we will lose that with the onset of the electric car. VW shows it needn’t be so…

Continuing the propulsion theme, Porsche chose to show what (isn’t technically) their oldest car, but one that makes a good story all the same. The first hybrid vehicle ever built, stood proudly on Porsche’s stand next to the company’s newest hybrid, the Panamera. Though many observers seemed to prefer its looks to those of the more modern car…

Seat showed off a simple, eye-catching way to display their range of colours, in this circle of mirrors. It’s not a new idea, but the bright and bold Seat palette was more notable for being somewhat more visually arresting than the IBx concept that can be seen behind…

Volvo’s accessories and stand displays often impress, and Geneva 2011 proved no different. Showing the company’s exterior colour range as a display of ‘jeans cut-outs’ made for a sweet and original display in the corner of the Volvo booth…

Audi is a master of stand design. This is a detail shot from the accessory range for the A1. Is it just us or is that checker-pattern reminiscent of fashion brand Burberry?

Elsewhere, the company’s quattro ice-block might be familiar to those who’ve visited an Audi stand before, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive…

We thought one Vision ConnectedDrive concept would have been enough, but BMW brought two Geneva 2011, fixing one to the wall of their stand. The display features a screen that rolls open or shut, depending on what aspect of the car’s technological aspects is being demonstrated…

We featured it in a previous post, but couldn’t resist sneaking in that half of a Renault 4 display again

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Comment + photo gallery: Morgan Three Wheeler

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

The little Morgan Three Wheeler was causing an unexpected stir in the corner of hall six, attracting a constant stream of intrigued and bewildered admirers amongst the designers we spoke to.

The rebirth of the iconic bathtub-style Morgan is a stark and somewhat refreshing vision amidst a sea of ever-more complex surfaces and increasing wheel size. Its dimensions are hard to gauge through photographs, but sitting atop skinny wire wheels and with the V-Twin engine way out front for the world to see, it certainly won’t be mistaken for anything else at the show.

Beneath the pastiche retro exterior nestles a modern engine and gearbox, as well as a sumptuous leather-lined interior, sporting a central aircraft-style dial binnacle. With the exterior adorned in a matte green paint and complete with WWII graphics, you feel compelled to don a sheep-skinned leather jacket just to look at the car. However this convincing fusion of old and new, the simple beauty and eccentric demeanour of the Three Wheeler places it firmly as one of my favourite cars of the show.

John O’Brien

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Image: Renault wishes the 4 a happy 50th Birthday…

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

…by cutting it in half. In its lime green paint, fixed to the wall of the Renault stand, this 4L struck an arresting visual image as you made your way up the stairs between halls one and two. And as Renault ‘drives the change’, we suspect there’s still much the company can take in inspiration from this innovative small car.

Joe Simpson

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Quiz: Name that VW Group detail

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

Observers of the VW Group’s broad range of new cars in Geneva may well have noticed a convergence of design execution across their respective brands. This has manifested itself in the extremely sharp-edged, tightly-radiused execution of key graphic elements, to such an extent that it could be argued they are in danger of overlapping onto each other’s turf.

This development is something we intend to investigate further in the coming weeks but to demonstrate the point (if you pardon the pun), we’ve gathered these four sample images of VW Group design details all displayed on different stands. Can you identify them?

Owen Ready

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Comment: Should Toyota have left the FT-86 alone?

Posted by cdnlive March 3rd, 2011

Toyota FT-86 II concept

The FT-86 II is the latest interpretation of the much-lauded FT-86 concept originally shown at the 2009 Tokyo motor show. But, as the design nears production (or – given Toyota’s reticence to name an on-sale date – should that be creeps towards?), the no-nonsense sports car from the Japanese automaker appears to be becoming much more compromised in terms of its design.

The original showcar had massive appeal – thanks largely to its elegant proportions and exquisite detailing, particularly in the interior. However, this latest variant is devoid of an interior and features a slew of what almost feel like Lexus LFA-referencing elements that have not transitioned well. At the front, the LED strips in the lower bumper are met by LFA-style headlamps, which aren’t as successful as the original, simpler units. Meanwhile, the gaping-mouth grille gives the car the appearance of something you’re more likely to find feeding close to the bottom of a murky sea-bed.

Fender blisters appear at the front and a pronounced air inlet adorns the bodyside. Yet more changes have been made to the rear, where the haunches appear just aft of the crude shoulder that disappears incongruously into the DLO. LFA-like taillamps also adorn the truncated rear end, whilst further addendum – such as a large, tuning-style decklid spoiler and an aggressive diffuser – shout its sporting intent. These are necessary as this latest version has even less tumblehome than the original.

The elegant lines of the original FT-86 didn’t require such ‘go-faster’ bits; the design was much more successful for the lack of them. This car may, perhaps, be more production ready, but the FT-86 II concept regrettably lacks the appeal of its Tokyo forebear. As such, it leaves us wishing that Toyota had left the design alone, and appears to prove true that – as far as FT-86 designs are concerned – less truly does equal more.

Eric Gallina

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Laurens van den Acker wears heart on feet

Posted by cdnlive March 2nd, 2011

As many of you will no doubt know, Laurens van den Acker’s mission for his tenure of Renault design is to make people fall in love with the brand again. The DeZir (Z24) concept from last year’s Paris show was the first of six design steps to ensure this.

However, Laurens has gone one step further than most by also displaying his passion through his footwear. His ‘Z24 LOVE’ three-stripes are certainly eye-catching and with the new Captur and R-Space concepts making such a great impression, we may be ordering a pair too.

Owen Ready

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