It’s easy to be convinced by the Fiat-Chrysler group rhetoric about the future of brands, and what’s going on with badge engineering right now. Yes, we know that badging Chryslers as Lancias in Europe is an intermediary step. Yes, we know it’s needed to cover holes in the product portfolio. But at what cost to the brand? And why – if the company is going to pursue this – does it not have the confidence to bring the Lancia brand back to the UK? In a bizarre twist, the British market therefore gets a Chrsyler-badged Ypsilon. Confused yet? We are.
Lancia, like SAAB, has a small but loyal group of followers, to whom we suspect this will be a complete anathema. Brands can no longer pull the wool over the public’s eyes, and to attempt to do so risks doing untold damage to the brand. The 300C/Thema, we could perhaps just about have stomached. But a 200C, badged Flavia? It made some of the CDN team want to cry.
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.
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