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
Yesterday we reported on just how poor a reaction the Bentley Exp 9F concept was receiving here in Geneva. But everyone you speak to adds a caveat to their exterior loathing, reporting that “the interior’s rather nice though”. We’d agree – and when the split tailgate opens up, while it’s become a bit of a cliche in the luxury car space, we couldn’t help notice the rather nice picnic set.
The Germans must think the British spend the few days of summer we get on the grey and rainy island in a perpetual picnicking adventure. We can add the set in the 9 F to what Rolls-Royce showed in the Phantom a year and a half ago, and the series of ones that adorned a Mini Clubman concept or two that were shown in 2005/6. All ‘British’ brands, now under the direction of German firms. Now where did I put my Pimms and lemonade?
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
Back in the mid-noughties, what are now the previous generations of the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Mercedes A-Class (in 5 door format) were starkly different. Of course, the Audi and BMW had a degree of similarity, but the 1-Series was more compact than many would have liked in the rear and the trunk. Volvo’s C30 felt like a car from half a segment below and was hurt by its 3-door only format and tiny trunk.
Consequently, the Audi A3 Sportback (5dr) did extremely well in the market – and with a new generation of these products being present at the show, it’s notable how – give or take a few millimeters – BMW, Mercedes and now Volvo have all decided that where the Audi A3 Sportback was positioned, is a very good place for their new generation products to sit.
Essentially, that means a C-segment 5-door hatch, adopting a slightly ‘wagon’-esque rear end and/or roofline. We should probably add the Lexus CT200h to the list of cars in this space too, although in many aspects of design it lags behind.
Of course, Audi are only showing the 3-door A3 here, so we’ll have to wait to find out whether it plans to repositioning the next A3 Sportback. But we wouldn’t bet on that happening. For customers in the market, there are now several very competent and apparently very similar in format cars to choose from.
That’s probably good for sales, but from a design point of view, there’s arguably less variety of format choice now than there was before. The biggest surprise though is how close the V40 feels in terms of quality and premium-ness, to both the A-Class and 1-Series. It’s far from perfect, but it’s easy to see how this car could be a hit for Volvo in the market. It hits the market sweetspot – a quality that many recent Volvos have been missing.
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
There’s something endearing, romantic and entirely befitting of the ‘Italian way’ of crafting car design about a wooden buck. Fittingly then, Pininfarina will sell you a 10th scale one of either the Birdcage concept or a Dino for €500.
They sit alongside four of the coolest crash helmets we’ve seen recently.
Let’s just hope that when its Cambiano concept and the new Ferrari F12 are unveiled later on, they have the same ‘want one’ quality.
By Joe Simpson