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
It’s a difficult thing to judge, the 500L. The response of many at this show seems to be that this car is a jump too far for the 500 identity. But standing and really taking it in – and after talking extensively to Fiat Design Director Roberto Giolito – it certainly begins to make more sense. This is the first step in a wider strategy, that should lead to a much expanded 500 (and versatile Fiat) range. It also shows some of the first fruits (and logic) of the Fiat-Chrysler marriage.
Clearly, Fiat – like Mini – want a big share of the premium A/B/B+ market. And given the brand’s move back into the American market, a car with the 500′s identity but a lot more space is, as Giolito says the clinics confirmed, a bit of a no-brainer. Many designers we’ve spoken to quibbled with aspects of its execution though. It seems tall and teetering where the 500 hatch is planted and robust.
The volume over the rear wheel feels problematic, partly because the 17 inch wheels seem completely lost in the arch. Others felt that the robust, lower body qualities – which are reminiscent of the new Panda – didn’t work that well with the 500 facial graphics.
Yet when you understand that this platform will spawn Jeep derivatives and – more importantly a 4×4 Fiat variant, in the mold of an Audi Allroad – some of the design constraints become apparent.
Like the Mini Countryman, it’s one case where many designers will roll their eyes and talk wistfully of the model-line heritage… but where the market seems likely to lap up the product. It clearly makes good sense for the brand to use an identity which is seen as premium – and they can therefore charge more for.
We’ll reserve full judgement on the 500L then, until we understand it in the context of a wider strategy set to be unveiled over the next year. And until we’ve sat in and experienced the interior which was sadly locked on the second press day, because it’s not 100% production on the cars in Geneva.
By Joe Simpson
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
There are a few lovely details on the new Kia C’eed, which help to cement the car as a major player in the C-segment. The extruded chrome surrounds to the front fog lamps, the little horizontal bevel in the C-pillar as it joins the roof and the Citroen DS5/BMW e60 5-Series-like lamps are all great quality and endow a premium feel.
Yet overall, this new C’eed goes down as a slight disappointment given Kia’s recent high standards. Yes, from a surface and detailing perspective it now competes with the best in class. But overall and in terms of its position, it’s not a great step forward. If we look at what the leading – and more premium – players in this segment are doing, this car’s too cab-forward.
The front quarter-light endows it too much mono-volume and MPV-like quality, which the last generation of C-cars such as the Peugeot 308 went towards, but most are now trying to pull (their A-pillar) back from. And the overall form, particularly around the rear three-quarters is reminiscent of the Fiat Bravo – which we’re sure is not what Kia were aiming for. The interior feels like much less of a step forward than one might expect too. Of course, in the context of a car that’s like to undercut the European mainstream by a couple of thousand euros, it’s still very impressive, and let’s not be too critical – this car at least matches the Opel Astra, for instance, which must be a concern for Russelsheim.
But Peter Schreyer’s design leadership can clearly only take the brand only so far and ultimately this new C’eed is slightly hobbled by its package, which to us looks a generation behind the leaders of the class.
By Joe Simpson
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
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