About 15 years ago design rationalism enjoyed one of its occasional bouts of popularity. In a few cases the appliance of simple rules to simple shapes led to similar conclusions.

2004 Ford Fusion
2004 Ford Fusion: three sharp corners, neat work.

What we should be noticing in this slide show is the relation of the wing to the bumper and the treatment of the grille and bonnet. I noticed this originally because around about that time I occupied myself with a lamp design and without noticing how others did it arrived at something that looked very like the Fusion’s lamp.

If we look around at contemporary cars, I am sure there are some examples of convergent evolution. Off the top of my head I think that there are at least three versions of the type of C-pillar seen on the Opel Astra hatchback. First we have the 1999 Skoda Fabia and the 1999 VW Bora.

1999 Skoda Fabia
1999 Skoda Fabia

I had to triple check the date of the Fabia. It has aged well. Both VAG designs run the bumper to front wing panel gap to a point just before a radiused corner (the corner is on the bumper side of the gap). The lamp’s upper line meets the wing at right angles. The difference is that the Fabia has three sharp corners on the lamp while the Bora has two sharp and two round corners, diagonally opposed.

1999-2004 VW Bora

Then we turn to the 2000-2008 Suzuki Ignis which has three round corners but is schematically identical to the Bora. The bumper/wing panel gap meets above the radius. Its character comes from the big sweeping curve of the upper edge of the lamp. I like this one best of all.

2000 Suzuki Ignis

The 2002 Opel Vectra Series 1 (the hardest car to find for this series) is conceptually like the Ignis. It is not nearly so well done. The crease on the bonnet spoils the sweep from the top edge of the lamp as it flows done to meet the bumper. The lamp cuts into the wing. Notice that if you follow the wing shut line it meets the lamp and steps outboard with a small radius. The bumper to wing line meets at a sharp corner. Another feature interferes with the inboard lower corner. All in all, it’s not tidy work.

2002-2008 Opel Vectra

Last to this party is the 2004 Ford Focus, five years after the Bora.


The Focus has two rounder corners at the bottom of the lamp and the lamp silhouette is almost three-sided: the other two edges of the lamp are nearly one curve but aren’t. Again, note the bumper to wing line panel gap meet above the radius. Like the Ignis the bumper stretches up to meet the bonnet. Conceptually, it is closest to the Ignis.

What did a 2001 Mondeo look like? I did not photograph that for this series:

2001 Ford Mondeo estate:
2001 Ford Mondeo estate:

I call this kind of thing “tailoring”: how to neatly manage construction of elements. The surprise for me is how nicely the unregarded Ignis does this and how mediocre Opel’s effort was.

Author: richard herriott

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

11 thoughts on “Convergences”

  1. The 2004 Suzuki Swift does what the Vectra attempts with more aplomb. The inner edge of the quarter panel is not protected though, thus avoiding setting the lights too far inboard.

    1. I agree on the tidy car. Too bad its successor doesn’t bring anything new, but is just a bloated copy of this car.
      While the top of the A-pillar is way nicer than anything Citroën has done in a decade, the bottom for me looks quite messy. Too many features and intersecting lines.

    1. I agree – neat and clear.
      It seems to me that it’s important whether or not the lamp “cuts” into the wing panel. The Vectra and Swift do; the others don’t. Why would they do that? For a wider appearance.

    2. Was the final (1996) generation Honda Prelude the first production example of this style of headlamp treatment?

  2. Eoin: good thinking. Yes though it’s less clear than the Fords. I think the key to this design is the number of rounded corners and sharp ones. Also the extent to which the panel gap positions dominate the aperture for the lamp or vice versa.

  3. Interesting post. I think that the first generation of the EcoSport uses a similar resolution

    1. Look like pretty much the same car as the (European) Fusion…

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