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.
The cupshoulder on the Volvo V40
By Drew Meehan
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.
By Drew Meehan
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.
By Drew Meehan
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.
By Drew Meehan
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.
By Drew Meehan
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.
By Drew Meehan
The Minagi concept is the last vehicle to have been created under the direction of Laurens van den Acker, though Mazda’s new design boss, Ikuo Maeda, has also made his mark on the design.
Very near production ready, the five door crossover features a Z- shaped character line on the bodyside as well as a new front and rear end design, which incorporate many of the design elements first seen on the Shinari concept last year.
The concept’s interior is perhaps the most appealing. With a clear sports theme – again reminiscent of the interior design of the Shinari – the detailing is both elegant and technical.
Rich black leather and contrasting red stitching on the seats and IP combine with swathes of chrome and recessed lighting throughout the cabin, while transparent glass elements (through which the HVAC system is operated) adorn the center console.
Maeda’s sports car experience and enthusiasm for racing is showing through in this new crossover.
BMW’s Vision ConnectedDrive Concept is one of the real show stars in Geneva. BMW’s Director of Group Design, Adrian van Hooydonk talks more about the overall strategy behind the concept here. And Head of Interior Design at BMW, Marc Girard has talked us through the interior here and here.
This car had a tough act to follow in the form of the acclaimed Vision EfficientDynamics Concept shown at the IAA in Frankfurt in 2009. Based on pictures released some weeks before Geneva, some were also questioning whether this car would live up the high standards of design and originality set by that car. In photos, some of the resolution and surfacing made this car look a little slab-like. Yet in the flesh the car has a lithe, elegant form and a lightness of execution that belies its complex technology.
There is some surprisingly poor surfacing on show on other cars here in Geneva, but the BMW is not one of them . It might not have quite the level of originality the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept displayed, but it’s still an impressive piece of design in its own right and a logical evolution of a set of ideas. Along with the Mini Rocketman, it illustrates the depth of talent within design at BMW right now. Hidden throughout the concept are a series of incredibly complex, yet ultimately quite background technology features, which we’ll explore in greater depth in a longer design review. For now though, here are some of our favourite detail elements of the car, and our flickr photo gallery.
Judging by the design chatter, Renault’s two concepts are stars of the show. While most seem particularly taken with the Captur concept, a Crossover SUV rumored to be foreshadowing a Clio crossover sometime next year, the R-Space showcases some interesting design cues in a small MPV package.
Rear ‘seating’ area
On the inside, the rear seating area is a beautifully abstract cubist arrangement (apologies for the art-based contradiction in terms), which sharply contrasts with the modern front seating and dashboard layout featuring lots of white leather, aluminium, and long sweeping curves.
Front seat area
This contrast is meant to epitomize the differences in viewpoint between children and their parents, and as as a way of summing up the third in Renault’s circle-of-life stages, ‘family’, it works very well. It also more accurately reflects a growing trend at Renault towards strong graphics in unexpected places.
These graphics as design elements reach to the exterior of the car as well, with those same long sweeping curves of the interior cutting a swathe across the side of the car, creating the rear door shut line and a unique DLO at the same time. This use of looping curves continues across the now familiar ‘new’ Renault DRG, as well as through the door sills, the lighting details, and accent materials.
Although the Captur is perhaps the more refined concept from a form and development standpoint, the unique use of strong graphic elements on the R-Space seem likely to be showing up on Renault vehicles in the near future.
Andrew Meehan and Joe Simpson