Video: McLaren P1 with lead exterior designer Paul Howse

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

Drew Meehan

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Video: BMW Active Tourer concept with Marc Girard

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

Owen Ready

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Smart ForStars – Meet the bad boy of the Smart family

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

There seems to be a recurring theme this year in Paris, one that automotive journalists can’t help but notice; the general lack of new, exciting products. Cars and concepts revealed at Geneva and Beijing are still making the rounds, but at least Smart has made an effort by giving its ForUs concept from Detroit a makeover to create the ForStars.

Despite the fact it’s a rehashed ForUs, there are enough touches of interest here and there. Where the ForUs has a distinctly playful appearance, the ForStars looks like the “bad boy” of the brand thanks to its moody “eyebrows” and a hood air intake that hides a projector to create you own drive-in movie.

Aside from the glazed panel that creates a distinct coupe roofline and encloses the rear, the ForStars largely sticks to the ForUS’ architecture. A fun-looking car, sure, but can you just show us the new productions cars please, Smart?

Rufus Thompson

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McLaren P1 design is slightly off the pace

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

As McLaren Automotive attended its first international motor show, a huge crowd gathered on the first evening of the Paris show to see Ron Dennis unveil the new P1 for the first time. Reaction from the general public is predictably positive, but designers we’ve spoken to seem to share our opinion that the new form language – derived from the organic shapes of aero-influenced F1 cars – is not as successful as we’d hoped.

The overall form of the car is certainly dramatic and there’s little doubt that the car will make a staggering impression on the road, but on the show stand and in a not-so-complementary metallic burnt orange color and without visible interior or engine, the P1 seems like it’s trying a bit too hard.

The various scoops and cut-outs – especially the lacquered carbon side scoop – seem to distract from what is an otherwise sinuous, sexy, and original volume.

The impossibly low rear end sets it apart from any rivals it might have, while the tail lights that weave their way along the edge of the impossibly curvy engine venting are a great detail. For the most part, the details are the stars of the show here, with this prototype even having a bespoke titanium number plate. Not all are successful, however. The faux DLO graphic in particular is the very definition of form not following function, a far cry from McLaren’s usual no-nonsense approach.

Because the car was shown without access to the interior and engine bay, which meant many blocked-off exhaust outlets and vents, we’re going to withhold final judgement on the car until all is revealed in Geneva next March. Until then, we’ll let you enjoy a few photos and judge for yourselves.

Drew Meehan

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Toyota Auris – worst interior of 2012

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

That’s quite a bold statement but then again the new Auris’ interior is quite a bold step 180-degrees from the right direction. It’s unfortunate that here in Paris the new model sits opposite the superb new Golf that sets new benchmarks in perceived quality. Or maybe I should say it’s unfortunate that the Auris just isn’t better.

Step from the Golf to the Auris (as many potential customers will) and the gulf between them is so wide you have to wonder who would sign on the dotted line in a Toyota dealer.

The cacophony of hideous, hard plastics and vinyls don’t even have the decency to arrange themselves in a pleasant manner – the IP feeling like a vertical wall that plays host to yet more dreadful materials that form the dire switchgear. And don’t get me started on the Quartz digital clock. Or the nylon fabrics. Or the airbag warning lights. Or the…

You make cars of excellent mechanical integrity, Toyota, but you need to start communicating this quality through design. Until you do I’m afraid customers are going to take those short steps over to the VW (or indeed any number of brands) showroom on the other side of the street.

Owen Ready

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God is in the details: Rolls-Royce retro posters

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

While we question just how much Rolls-Royce’s bespoke cars in Paris truly represent the Art Deco movement they claim to be inspired by, there’s no doubt that these bespoke posters on the wall outside the stand are truly fantastic. Showing the three cars on display in Paris in a beautifully recreated vintage style , these posters would look very nice on my office wall and show Rolls-Royce’s continued attention to detail and understanding of the super-luxury market.

Drew Meehan

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The final frontier of honest design

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

While so many manufacturers are following a trend of busy detailing and extraneous graphics, there is one stand in Paris that’s flying under the radar with its consistently honest and cohesive design language—Dacia. While certainly not the stars of the show, we find the honesty and cleanliness of the Dacia range (now complete with the refreshed Sandero/Logan) to be a perfect antidote to the gratuitous surfacing and fussy DRGs that now dominate the stands from nearly every other manufacturer.

The simple creased lines and subtle-yet-full surfaces of the entire Dacia lineup have a solid assuredness that seems poised to take the place of Skoda in the marketplace as VW move that brand upmarket and more in line with the corporate style.

The new Sandero itself is a chunky 5-door car with a proportion reminiscent of the beloved but utilitarian Renault 4, and the Duster is consistently named among the favorites of designers show after show. They aren’t premium and don’t pretend to be, which leads to the obvious question in this economic climate—isn’t there space for honest, utilitarian cars with an unassuming but confident style?

We think there is.

By Drew Meehan

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Detail: Lexus goes Steampunk

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

The Lexus LF-CC concept is challenging, perception-challenging, exciting and, above all, distinctive. Take these bewinged projector lamps that bore their way into the distance like some mechanical Jules Verne deep sea monster. More like this please Lexus!

Owen Ready

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VW group: spot the difference game

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

These are photos from two new ‘MQB’ platform, VW-group C-segment products. One is supposed to be a spanish, fun brand. The other a German premium brand. But can you work out which car is which from this photo of the C-pillar, around the fuel filler door…? It leaves us asking the question: all conquering though VW is right now, isn’t there space for a little more bandwidth in the design language – particularly with brands like Seat and Skoda – which appear to be turning into clones of one another?

By Joe Simpson

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F-type: the car Jaguar needs?

Posted by cdnlive September 28th, 2012

Ian Callum believes the F-type can be the fulcrum of Jaguar’s range. In an interview with CDN, Callum described the F-Type as “the car we’ve needed for so long” because, in his view “Jaguar is fundamentally a sports car company.”

In many ways, the F-Type is an impressive sports car. The rear aspect looks particularly smart, elegant and clean. There’s some reference point to C-X75 here, which is nice to see. Proportionally, the car’s pretty exquisite too. And several design commentators we spoke to remarked on how refreshing it is to see clean, sculptural design – as opposed to something brutal or with hundreds of additive body crease lines.

Our questions of the F-Type concern its face, which still feels like a design weak point, and its positioning. Sized between a Boxster and a 911 (and priced accordingly) it doesn’t feel like the young, €35-€45k sports car many of us wanted Jaguar to make, to compete with high end TTs, Z4s and SLKs and gun straight for the Boxster.

As a slightly bigger car, its appeal is less youthful. Sit a 30 year old in it and it somehow manages to age them by 10 years. Perhaps that’s ok if Jaguar realises that the market for this car is genuinely a 50-60 year old. But we hope that, in time, Jaguar can still find the funds and space in its range to build a small roadster that can genuinely appeal to a younger and more female-biased market. Fine though the F-Type is, it doesn’t feel like that car. Which for some of us, is a bit of a disappointment.

by Joe Simpson

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