Theme: Concepts – 2012 Lada X-Ray by Steve Mattin

The 43rd Most Influential Briton in the Car Industry 2004 was Steve Mattin.

2012 Lada X-Ray concept
2012 Lada X-Ray concept

Formerly the senior design manager at Mercedes Benz until 2004, he moved to Volvo when it was under Ford’s management. I happen not to care a great deal for the Mercedes cars designed while Mattin was in Sindelfingen. And it surprises me very little that while at Volvo Mattin oversaw the creation of the Volvo S60, V60, and XC60 concept cars.

2012 lada-x-ray-koncepcija-503f8f35c8039

And I don’t like those either. Mattin ended his relationship with Volvo in 2009 and did some teaching at Umea in Sweden and also carried out consultancy work.

Steve Mattin and the 2012 Lada X-Ray
Steve Mattin and the 2012 Lada X-Ray

His latest design is the one that caught my attention, the 2012 Lada X-Ray. It is vastly more professional and believable than the rest of Lada’s range which includes vehicles such as the Kalina which dates from 2004. However, the X-Ray also has the look of a

2012 Lada Kalina
2012 Lada Kalina

design produced in an environment where the peer review process has exerted much less pressure than it might at GM, Ford, Renault or any other corporation anchored in 2012 Lada-XRAY-Concept-03-720x480western design norms. I don’t offer this as a criticism. It’s actually very revealing of the extent to which designers are a product of their environment and the culture of their

2013 Lada Kalina with a restyled front end by Steve Mattin.
2013 Lada Kalina with a restyled front end by Steve Mattin.

workplace. It is very likely that at Lada there is not the ingrained self-criticism (which might also be stultifying) that one might find inside BMW or VW or Jaguar. This peer-pressure is the kind that might deter a designer from a wilder flight of fancy or also make a gross mistake of taste.

The X-Ray is a design which has the air of a vehicle created in the absence of such restraint, making it both a more personal design and also possibly awkwardly idiosyncratic, as if the design team were missing some bearings. The bodyside sculpting and the odd shape of the door shutline are the features that both attract one’s attention but also make one doubt the judgement of the author.

On the plus side, the interior looks very believable but when rendered in Standard Customer Grey might lose the appeal of the striking colourway selected for the presentation photography.

Lada Kalina 1118 saloon specifications

Lada Kalina 1118 TechnicalSpecifications : Engine 1,6 l 8V Engine 1,6 l 16V
Dimensions mm
length 4040 4040
width 1670 1670
height 1500 1500
Track front / rear wheels mm 1430/1410 1430/1410
Ground clearance mm 160 160
Mass in running condition kg 1080 1080
Capacity kg 475 475
The luggage compartment, m 3 0,42 0,42
The payload, (including mass loaded with luggage on the roof), kg 425+50 425+50
Tank fuel litres. 50 50
Base engine 11183 Distributed fuel injection
8 valves
Distributed fuel injection
16 valves
Nr. kW / M. 58/5600 66
Displacement engine cm 1596 1596
Torque, Nm / M. 133/2800
Max speed km / h 170
Time to disperse track / h, s 13
Fuel consumption, litres/100 km
at 90 km / h 5,8
at 120 km / h 7,6
Remarks : 9,3
The tires 175/70SR13 175/65HR14 185/60HR14
The standards for toxicity EURO2, EURO3

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

4 thoughts on “Theme: Concepts – 2012 Lada X-Ray by Steve Mattin”

  1. Like you, Richard, I never was particularly fond of Mattin’s creations when he was at M-B, but in retrospect my view has somewhat mellowed.

    His W220 S-class was a very of-its-time piece of styling, featuring a plethora of very late 1990s styling cues that haven’t aged well (but that’s what we said about a great many ’70s and 80’s designs years ago), but he certainly got that car’s proportions right. So right, in fact, that I’d envisage the W220 as the better X350 XJ, with a few corrections, of course. But what it isn’t is a proper Mercedes. What elegance it possesses is too ethereal for a Benz, its ornamentation too flimsy. The fact that Mercedes’ cost cutting regime is becoming all too obvious as the cars age also isn’t helping.

    Yet the biggest argument in favour of Mattin’s oeuvre is what came after him. The W221/222 manage to combine the worst aspects of Mattin’s S-class with clumsy proportions. It’s a shame that they’re built so much sturdier and will probably remain on our roads in more plentiful numbers, and longer than those rattly W220s.

  2. And the shutline between the front wing and the front door is appalling as well. It shoots up vertically. Was this a problem that turned up at the end and surprised everyone.

    1. As I tried to state, the W220’s devil is in the details. The some of the shutlines are bad, just as the panel gaps were shocking, even more so at a point in time when “Fugen-Ferdl” Piech had established them as a clear indicator of quality/lack thereof. And the less we talk about the W220’s dreadful interior, the better. A BMW E38 seven series felt much more Mercedes-like in comparison, and still does.
      It is hard to believe that Bruno Sacco was still in charge of overlooking the design process of this car.

      That pervading sense of cheapness did its best to keep me disliking the W220 for years, but as I said, underneath all that sloppiness lies a car of fundamentally sound proportions. Which cannot be said about the majority of recent Mercedes models.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.