The Volvo V40 has caused a fair amount of discussion in Geneva, mostly for being surprisingly more likable in the metal than it was in the press photos. But one of its design details has us discussing a new trend as well – the cupshoulder.
Previously seen on the Citroen DS5, the cupshoulder is a gratuitous “swirl” at the end of the shoulder line, coming back towards to the front of the car and allowing for an abrupt surface change that moves towards the rear of the car. This creates a small flat spot that seems like a perfect place to set down your roadside double espresso while making a cross-country (or cross-town) trip.
The cupshoulder on the Citroen DS5
On the Citroen, the swirl visually connects the shoulder crease to the C-pillar. On the Volvo, the swirl tenuously ties to the chrome-tipped tail fins of the P1800ES shooting brake. On both, we find it to be overly ornamental on designs that are otherwise quite well executed.
After a long day walking around the Palexpo floor, I finally got my chance to track down the last of the bikes on show by a major manufacturer, the RADe from Opel. In the style of the Smart/Brabus bikes, the Opel is also a battery-powered two wheeler, although in a more sporting style that seems to be slightly contradictory to me.
Beautifully designed, the RADe is an extremely modern and sleek bike, with a more mountain bike layout than the others we’ve seen, but also cleverly integrating a plug-in battery pack and electric motor. I have to admit that this combination is a bit confusing to me, as electric-assisted bikes are typically more common for city riders lugging groceries or those in need of extra assistance, but the execution is flawless, bringing Opel’s design language into a vastly different format.
Although we’ll be doing a full design review after the show, we can’t let a new Ferrari launch go without a mention. The new F12 Berlinetta showcases the first project with Flavio Manzoni at the helm of Ferrari’s internal design studio, as well as a return to cooperation with longtime design partner Pininfarina.
The car is utterly striking in its modernity and clear deference to the aerodynamic needs of a car capable of unprecedented performance. With a familiar front-engined V12, 2-seat layout, the F12 Berlinetta nonetheless ushers in a new era of Ferrari design, characterized here by the massive sculpted doors and the and aerodynamic “aerobridge” front fenders that create a dynamic and dramatic interplay of volumes and shapes that seems to be polarizing many of the designers I’ve spoken with. Size and proportion are beautifully resolved however, looking much more agile and athletic than its predecessor, and in the rear we have a proper hatch that sits over a rear “T” graphic that is reminiscent of past Ferraris, then gracefully transitions into an F1-inspired diffuser (complete with a fog lamp that appears to have been lifted straight off the F2012).
It is a bold statement of intent from Ferrari that design will not be sacrificed for the wind tunnel, but rather integrated into the process. It’s a rejection of retro thinking and style at Ferrari and a clear planting of Manzoni’s flag in the ground.
As promised, I’ve discovered another couple of bikes on show this morning. These two sibling bikes come from Smart and Brabus and are packing a little extra punch in the form of a plug-in electric motor.
The Smart version is a polished-looking city bike with the battery pack neatly integrated into the frame, while Brabus have done their usual tricks turning the same basic bike into a “city racer”, complete with slick tires, no mudguards, a flat black and eye-searing green paintjob, and the resulting decreased usefulness.
The appearance of these bikes in prominent locations is a sure indicator that the young urban buyer is keenly eyeing alternative transport with style that the automakers are keen to cash in on, much like the mountain bike craze of a few years ago.
I’m a big fan of seeing more of these stylish bikes as part of generalized urban mobility “solution”, and hope we’ll see more at shows to come. I hear there’s one more at Opel, but if I’ve missed one tucked away in a corner of the Palexpo, be sure to tell us in the comments.
It’s easy to forget that Peugeot was originally, and is still, a bicycle manufacturer. As a resident of the Netherlands, I’m quick to notice a clever and nicely designed two wheeler such as this one nestled in between the 208s on Peugeot’s stand.
Combining a laminated wood frame with a neatly designed aluminum rear fork and pedal assembly, this tiny-wheeled city bike avoids the clown-like stance of the commuter friendly bikes of Amsterdam, while also giving you a neat place to stash your briefcase. It also shows that Peugeot’s new design language can easily extend beyond the automotive world.
There are several more bikes that I’ve heard are hiding in the corners of the show, so I’ll be sure to hunt them down tomorrow and post them for contrast.
Although a bit of a sleeper concept here in Geneva, the Cambiano from Pininfarina has some delicious detailing that is certainly worth a mention. My particular favorite is the recycled wood used in the floor and door panels.
A gorgeous naturally stained oak, it’s full of character, including wormholes, streaks of color, and cracks from decades spent underwater in Venice harbor as piles. This lends them a rough quality that sits in stunning contrast to the immaculate leather and nubuck used in the rest of the interior. A beautiful and quintessentially Italian material that lends the Cambiano a human touch that many of the concepts at Geneva are lacking, and that shows Chief Designer Fabio Filippini’s experience in working on interiors at Renault.
We covered certain aspects of the Rocketman concept in our previous post, trend observation and photo gallery. Now it’s time to bring you the full video of new Design Director Anders Warming talking us around the car, highlighting not only the sense of occasion that comes with the simple act of opening the door, but also the rear drawer and tailgate. At 3400mm long, the Rocketman is a foot shorter than the Cooper, but has high levels of functionality and technical detailing to keep weight down.
Walking around the show floor and discussing various topics with the oft opinionated Chris Bangle opened our eyes to a number of issues currently existing in the automotive design industry. But one such conversation – featured in our earlier Supercars post – really resonated. Have supercars hit a design cul-de-sac?
With the obvious exception of the shooting brake Ferrari FF, the Aventador and Pagani feature the same proportions and cab-forward stance that has been used on exotic supercars dating back to the 1970s. But while the Aventador is a gentle evolution of Donckerwolke’s work, the Pagani pushes the generic sports car aesthetic by employing a multitude of lightweight and high-strength materials into its design.
“Since the 917 we’ve been treated to this sort of proportion,” Bangle said, looking at the car. “There’s been a subtle variation of it on a few and, if anything this is the most automotive looking.”
The Pagani’s design, however, appears to be playing second fiddle to the technological elements required in such a car. It graced the stand as a marvel of what can be done with carbon fiber, aluminum and super steels; the Pagani really is a technological showcase. But ultimately, as Bangle concludes: “This love affair with the plumbing locks you in to where we were in the last century, not where it’s going to go in the future.”
There’s no denying that vehicles which can travel at an alarmingly high rate of speed need to be aerodynamically optimized – and therefore adopt a similar form – but, besides what’s going on technically beneath the skin, there seems to be a lack of true innovation taking place at the supercar level.