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