Bottom Up, Top Down Or Whatever

A manufacturer’s range can draw its visual reference from either the smallest car or the largest.

2017 Opel Crossland X: source
Artist´s impression of 2017 Opel Crossland X: source

Peugeot is a famous case of its style being led by a car from the bottom of the range. The 1983 Peugeot 205 ended what was seen at the time as a rough period for the firm. Subsequent models referred to the 205 in the hope that 205 magic might rub off. Top down is the reverse: the big car leads. Yesterday the news wires burned incandescent with discussions and reports of Opel’s new Crossland X, a vehicle dimensionally very similar to the Mokka.

Visually, however, the Crossland X takes a notable percentage of its design themes from the lovely little Opel Adam. In some ways the theme has more space to breath. The base of the A-pillar, which is the Adam’s least satisfactory aspect is thematically similar yet can

2017 Opel Mokka X: source
2017 Opel Mokka X: source

extend more while still retaining the flow from side to front. The most evident shared feature is, of course, the roof and the brightwork around the top of the sideglass. The roof is blacked out and the brightwork shoots back parallel with the lamps, as the Adam does. The effect is of a scaled up Adam.

To some extent, the new Astra does something similar with its brightwork and so does the new Signum (especially on the estate version).

2012 Opel Adam
2012 Opel Adam

So, clearly Opel are pleased with the Adam’s style and are rolling-out some elements on their later cars. In this part of the text I am supposed to now say if this is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. These days I’d be reluctant to attempt to second guess the market. In some ways, customers seem quite indifferent to design details and mediocrity ought to be poison.

By the same token quite nice design is not consistently rewarded either. It seems that a bad design can be carried by a hot brand and a cold brand mostly doesn’t get far on the back of good looks. Exceptions abound and the explanations may lie in other cells on the spreadsheet. Hyundai have got a good reception for their design work and I think (without a shred of evidence, your honour) that customers like the tidy, slightly expressive design theme Hyundai is using.

Kia have done well with the Ceed 5-door but the very striking Ceed 3-door is a rarity and has done nothing to attract attention or change perceptions. Renault and Opel also carefully placed pearls (the Megane coupe and Astra coupe) before the swinish market and gained nothing.  And, as we have said here a lot, much of Mercedes design and latterly, Ford’s is quite ordinary (at best) but still shifts the metal (though less so for Ford).

Lots of lens flare. The actual car: source
Lots of lens flare. The actual car: source

So, the upshot of this is: does it matter so very much if the Crossland X looks like a car from lower down the price ladder? Does anyone think like that any more anyway? The simple truth might be: the Adam has nice roof and it works on the Crossland. There is nothing more complex to it either way.

Side note: Opel are, in my mind, notable for displaying really luscious interior colours in their brochures and publicity and for the public never to take them up. The Crossland visuals show lease-car grey from left to right and up to down. Have Opel finally given up on offering warm tan and creamy reds?  The first Meriva had a very distinctive interior and some eye-stroking colours. The Crossland, which replaces the Meriva does not (so far).

Author: richard herriott

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

9 thoughts on “Bottom Up, Top Down Or Whatever”

  1. I don’t mind design clues from small models spreading to the whole range, provided that it doesn’t look out of place. As you mentioned, the roof/brightwork theme also works on bigger models (although they have overdone it on the Astra estate, where the D-pillar/roof section looks three times as big as the rear side window).

    Other elements taken from small cars don’t easily work on bigger ones, I’m thinking of froggy/googly eyes for example. Good bad examples are Lancia Lybra or Alfa Giulietta.

    So, I’m absolutely fine with elements from smaller cars applied on bigger ones, and vice versa, as long as it fits. More important than the origin of a feature is, for me, that there remains enough visual difference between individual cars despite the family look – we have discussed the bad examples here.

  2. So, what do you make of what you see of the Crossland X – which is destined to replace the Meriva, so I believe.

    1. Free with the next issue of DTW magazine. A pair of vinyl ‘floating C pillar’ stick-on transfers. Trim to fit any car! Be in the trendy fashion groove. Order your copy now.

  3. I do not like this stylistic device on the Adam and it doesn’t look any better on this vehicle. They resemble what the American’s might call ‘Landau Irons’or to my eyes something akin to a perambulator. I would much prefer Opel to desist with all relevant haste.

    Other opinions are available, by the way.

    1. I had to google what a Landau Iron was, never heard of it! I wouldn’t say that the design gives it a simulated convertible look though.

    2. Took the words right out of my mouth! A pram with the top folded back. Also a feature of the otherwise ugly current Honda Odyssey, before the real drunken sailor new one marches onto forecourts later this year. However, Opel styling is far in advance of Honda in and by any metric.

      The little Mokka sells well here as the Buick Encore, slapped together at GM Korea, the plant formerly known as Daewoo. I say slapped together, as it is a porky little runt here, and no doubt the more subtle aspects of Opel engineering have been ditched by just not worrying about weight; the thing is full to the gills with sound-deadening mats, Buick’s real corporate secret weapon. The styling is also subtly altered for the worse, except for the grille which is just dreadful – the Buick waterfall. Oh dear, and the narrowness and height get emphasized, while inside occupants are charmed by plastic wood of the fake variety.

      It will be interesting to see if this new Crossland becomes the new Buick Encore/Chevy Trax, after Queen Mary Barra, head honcho of GM, gets back from feting Mr Trump. She is desperate to disguise the fact that a lot of the bailout money from GM’s bankruptcy went to build many factories in China and a couple in Mexico. So far, the charm offensive on GM’s behalf seems to be working, not surprising considering the Donald’s predilections, as she is pretty well styled herself, while the other brands seem to be getting a right bollocking in turn as the spotlight turns to them.

  4. European cars like this really don’t seem to be popular in the US, the Hatch really hasn’t taken off there. It has had a growing market share over the last few years though. It’s great to see vehicles in other markets.

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