2016 Detroit Motor Show Colour Analysis

This is part of Driven To Write’s unique service. Normally colour analyses are expensive and hard-to-get proprietary information. We give it away for free. 

2016 Detroit Motor Show colour analysis
2016 Detroit Auto Show colour analysis

It’s probably not comprehensive. Gizmag kindly put together a slide show of the most important cars and I added to the list with some Google image searches of brands they didn’t cover in their slide show. Did Cadillac really not show anything of note? Hyundai isn’t on my chart. If they were, it would have been another white car. Toyota showed a beige vehicle, the Tacoma. Would I put that under white or the browns?

Audi, Buick Alfa Romeo Giulia and Fiat 124 went with metallic blues, most of which looked as if they had some red in there to give them vibrancy. Many firms chose metallic red which is fine for consumers but deadly conventional. It’s a real “I don’t want to scare the horses, John” colour but makes the vehicles look so much like real cars. And Mercedes and Porsche went with repmobile metallic greys. I really have to hand the best colour award to Chevrolet who chose a lovely orange metallic shade for their Bolt.

The Kia Telluride is one of my favourite designs of this show. It shows a chief designer with a very keen eye for surfaces and detailing. The rear lamps are lovely, hiding between panels rather than bolted on. The flanks are gorgeously surfaced and virtually every photo shows highlights running almost uninterrupted across shut lines. This is a virtuoso design that signals that the Telluride is robust vehicle of high quality.

The Genesis saloon ended up with a very conventional metallic grey. Hyundai needed to be more brave with this. It could carry a bright blue or even a flat colour. It has great proportions and details and need not hide itself with a me-too colour.

There was one green car, a Kia Sorrento Pac West. This car aimed to relate the vehicle to the outdoors by having landscapes painted across the body sides. Indeed. This is like putting a sheaf-of-corn motif on a white toaster.

Author: richard herriott

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

19 thoughts on “2016 Detroit Motor Show Colour Analysis”

  1. “Toyota showed a beige vehicle, the Tacoma. Would I put that under white or the browns?”


    1. The B-eige word or the B-rown word? Both have to be avoided on all cost for European buyers. Make whatever shade you like, but for heaven’s sake call it “Teak” or “Cappuccino”.

      However, it seems that green has become even more poisonous than any B-colour.

  2. Thanks everyone. I’ll go with “dark ivory”.
    And indeed: one green and then not a serious one. That red metallic range shows that manufacturers think it photographs well or does it disguise problems.
    Wherever future colours are tested it seems not to be at motorshows.

  3. Beige is not a shade of white (if there is any such thing as shades of white). Never was, never will be. Yellow maybe, but not white. Hence the connection with br*wn.

    In any case the Tacoma was launched at last year’s Detroit show, and the colour was discussed at length elsewhere:

    Here the author suggests alternative names such as ‘Desert Sand Mica, Special Forces Taupe, or Champagne Sunrise Orgasm’, before rightly pointing out that ‘beige is the colour of mud’…

    1. I thought as much. Being technical, white is just white. Being pragmatic, off-white and shades of white are a shorthand for pale, pale colours. They are seen as deviations from white rather than pale, pale variants of the shade. Does that help?

    2. Having a white car is an illusion, we all know that, even before one hits dusty, muddy or salty roads. Therefore I consider it OK to call anything white that is intended to be so, even if it’s a tad greenish, bluish or beigeish (e.g. with a pearl effect). It’s a question of simplicity and brevity as well.

      But proper beige (even a very pale one) is of course a different matter…

    3. “beigeish (e.g. with a pearl effect)”

      Surely that’s greyish?

    4. Most pearl whites have a warm tone, so for me it has a beigeish touch. In my colour perception, geyish applies for a colder shade.

  4. Car Colour Theory starts with variants of white and black and grudgingly brings in small amounts of colour. This is completely back to front, and is symptomatic of the general predominance of non-colours in the car world.

    Proper (reflected) colour theory starts with the Hue (red/green/yellow,etc), Saturation (how intense the colour is) and Value (how dark or light). We can also use the terms Shade (colour made darker with black) or Tint (colour made lighter with white) or Tone (a combination of the two – ie adding grey).

  5. Hue: brown
    Saturation: minimal
    Value: very light
    = Colour: beige

    It works. Have a thanks.

  6. To the point, I own two cars that can be described as br*wn. One – French – is “Ganache’ (and very interesting it is too, with pearlescent flakes that reflect “rust” (yes, very) and “chestnut” in certain sunlight); the other – Japanese – is “Titanium Flash Mica” (my Mum calls it “Mink” – I know, it’s generational) which is a kind of grey-brown colour and not as interesting in real metal than I’d originally hoped. I am fond of the former and think it was the best of the palette for the C6 (sorry Simon, please feel free to disagree). The latter is OK, a bit bland, and I kind of wish I’d found one that was in (sorry Richard) “Soul Red”, although that us very common, with the stone leather option to lighten the coal-hole interior (especially the in rear).

    1. Why disagree? Ganache comes second or third in the C6 palette, according to my taste (after my own Suroît). Great choice of yours! My other contender for second place is beige (the proper one…), as I feel that a light colour on a C6 is truly underrated.

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