Better By FAAR

Ignoring provisos about spin cycles, we report on some news.

2020 Corsa-e. (c) automotive news

Despite the question marks which remain poised above Groupe PSA’s revival under Carlos Tavares, one cannot deny that the French carmaking giant seems to be playing something of a blinder at present. Last week, following leaked photos which surfaced online, Opel released official images and some details of the forthcoming Corsa B-segment model, due to
go on sale later in the year.

Having initially been partially developed on a General Motors-sourced platform, in an remarkably swift turnaround following PSA’s acquisition of the German carmaker in 2017, the Corsa was fast-tracked onto the newly developed CMP shared-architecture which also underpins not only the curious-looking DS 3 Crossback but the new-generation and rather handsome Peugeot 208.

While the current GM-sourced Corsa is built both in Eisenach and Zaragosa, the new-generation model (will it be dubbed Corsa F, or is Opel’s naming system defunct now?) will be built exclusively in Spain and, like its PSA cousins, will come exclusively in a five-door bodystyle.

What we see before us is a tidy looking, well proportioned B-segment hatch, which contrives to appear slightly more graphically restrained than the Peugeot 208 it’s based upon, but is likely, according to PSA, to appeal to a different audience – we’ll have to see about that. But what it seems likely to do is transform Opel/ Vauxhall’s market fortunes in the wake of its lacklustre predecessor – a car which has been kept in production almost a decade later than by right it ought – something of a Corsa speciality under GME.

Don’t mention the Hof. (c) autocar

Also experiencing something of a creative outpouring of late is BMW, who yesterday revealed a new variation of their X2 crossover, offering customers not only a slightly lower hip-point, but in addition, an equally diminished price point. Like the new Corsa, the latest 1-Series hatchback is front driven, which allows the storied Bavarian carmaker to offer a more commodious cabin, although unlike the Rüsselsheim offering (said to be 48 mm lower than its predecessor), BMW make no mention of the 1-er’s centre of gravity.

Following the mainstream carmakers’ lead, BMW it seems have chosen not to build the new 1-Series in three-door format. Nevertheless, downsizing 2-Series Active/ Gran Tourer customers will find plenty to appreciate in the Einer, which BMW have thoughtfully styled to vaguely resemble the Leipzig-built minivan, to say nothing of its sportier and more athletic X2 crossover equivalent.

Styling is, in the current BMW idiom, a striking synthesis of athleticism, dynamic purpose and surprising practicality, with the now trademark larger, more prominent grille treatment, deep, rising beltline and the iconic ‘van Hoydoonk kink’ at the C-pillar ensuring that the One will be greatly admired wherever it goes.

But while the Veirzylinder are making vague noises about the FAAR platform supporting hybrid drivetrains, albeit at some as yet undefined point, PSA have confirmed a fully-electric Corsa will go on sale in the early part of next year. Advantage Rüsselsheim?

While it’s far too early to establish exactly how much better a job of running a car business Mr. Tavares is doing by contrast with his embattled München Milbertshofen equivalent, on current form one has to deduce that the Lion really is going from strength to strength.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

64 thoughts on “Better By FAAR”

  1. Despite the pole antenna, the Corsa looks pretty and modern, a clean and sporty car with perfect proportions. First drives are reporting a very handsome, fun to drive car. That is how a BMW should look like and drive.
    All that said, I saw the new BMW, a mixture of the new fat Focus and something from Corea. And i can hear the great relief in Untertürkheim, smiling that BMW was able to create that anonymous car. The reduction of the solid C-pillar look was not a good idea too….

  2. The new Corsa looks quite decent. The short rear door betrays its origins… Apparently the car has a ‘sportier’ setup than the 208, which immediately puts it outside any consideration for me. Why are they doing that? I’d have liked the colour.

  3. Draw your own conclusions as to which is the nicer design:

    Perfect expression of the Hofmeister kink…on the Focus.

    1. Daniel! I’ve been trying to spot the differences for a while now. But I think you may have accidentally forgot to post the photo of the BMW…

    2. Oh, hang on, I get it (finally!) How very droll, Max.

    1. The kink on the Focus is really very close in spirit to the BMW designs of the 60s and 70s. It looks somewhat distorted, though – I guess it’s because the rear door and window have become unnaturally long by dropping the window in the C-pillar.
      The BMW light clusters (front and rear) look like they have been stolen from the current A-class. (This is not a compliment)

    2. Wow – so, the fits point is that the profiles are quite, quite similar, aren’t they? When you first put the two photos of the BMW up I was flummoxed, and then you put the ‘right’ photo up and I am almost more flummoxed. We seem to have re-entered an age of ‘same-again’ design (for those who remember the Car front page from the late 80’s, or was it early 90’s?) …

    3. Yes, sorry for causing confusion, although you could easily understand how I could get them mixed up! The 1 Series treatment of the C-pillar is really nasty, with that superfluous plastic filler panel extending the DLO for no good reason. The rear door window is already long enough to look balanced against the front. All the filler does is make the C-pillar look weak. As Eóin rightly describes it, the profile is now the “van Hoydoonk kink” in that it is the same as on the equally unhappy 3 Series, and is a crass reinterpretation of the original. When the DLO is framed with bright trim, the filler looks slightly less ugly, although there are now two wholly unnecessary breaks in the continuity of the brightwork.

      Once again, BTW has released a new model that mainly serves to highlight that its predecessor wasn’t so bad looking after all:

    4. I couldn’t resist having a play with the new 1 Series to see if i could improve it:

      I lowered and straightened the window line on the rear door and moved the kink forward onto the door frame to clean up and strengthen the C-pillar. The kink needs more work, but is beyond my rudimentary skills. What do you think?

    5. Very good point. The redeeming feature of recent BMWs seems to be:

      a) That they make their predecessor look (suddenly) good. Since this appears to get passed down the generations, the first gen 1 series may soon become the best looking car around for miles and miles. (I’d suggest posting another photo of it alongside the others. And I fear it will reveal that you can tweak the new (Focus) gen’s lines as much as you want, making it look better than its predecessors may prove to be impossible…)

      b) That they feed said hobby horse with some sort of super food compound which may eventually make it burst…

    6. The BMW also loses another tradition of low bonnet lines and short front overhangs. It even seems the Focus managed this better, but it could be just the angle of the photos. Certainly the Mazda 3 has a lower bonnet line, hasn’t it?

    7. Your wish is my command, Max:

      However, I’m not sure this one is better looking than its successor. I could never get on with that curved lower bodyside crease. It always looked to me as though the car was sagging between the axles. It also looks rather heavy and truck-like, or is that just me?

    8. Thank you, Daniel.
      I must agree though, it looks slightly worse than expected.
      A friend of mine has a three door one (1) on (very rare) steel wheels – and it looks fabulous!
      And since they have become quite rare, seeing one on the street usually turns my head.
      Maybe the silver pronounces that lower banana line a bit more than does it good?

    9. The Focus wins hands down. I´ve seen these now in various colours and I have to eat humble pie. Ford have produced a very impressive car that does not rely on shock value to make an impact. The BMW´s waistline (I seldom say this kind of thing) is indicative of a design team uncertain about their task. It´s dated. The car´s a fudge. As ever, DTW´s design services are available for a fair sum so if BMW as least wants to hear a scientific argument as to what´s wrong, please contact us in confidentiality.

    10. I pinched this image from a YouTube video by The Sketch Monkey, where he tries to improve the front end of the new 1 Series:

      BMW is now resolutely mainstream, at least as far as the company’s FWD models are concerned. Can the brand really be credibly stretched from this to the X7 and 8 Series?

    11. Daniel, I also saw that video. I think the effect of tilting the front lights slightly more horizontal was quite striking. Also, this front bumper does look horrible and just gets worse the longer you look at it… Yes, unfinished. A mess.

      Giving up RWD might have prompted the choice to try to keep the proportions with the FWD platform, which probably can’t be pulled off convincingly, or to just wipe the slate clean and go for this MPVish, FWD stance. That’s still no excuse for messing the details up so badly.

      On a more genera note: Either we need to extend our idea of what a BMW can be (like the A-Class, a Golf-segment car with no particular merit other than wearing a fancy badge) or we need to conclude that this is not a proper BMW. Which one will it be?

    12. Hi Max. In my imagined alternative universe, the FWD 1 Series, together with any sub 3 Series models, would be branded Rover (or MG). Of course, BMW would have to have taken a much more assertive and hands-on approach to the English Patient and not wasted a fortune on the (admittedly, finely wrought) dead-end that was the 75.

  4. The Corsa looks alright, doesn’t it? Perhaps it lacks a little pizzazz, and is certainly miles away from some of those concepts which were meant to prepare us for the new Opel/ Vauxhall ‘look’, but it’s quite clean and sharp.

    It looks like DTW is now backing off outright criticism of BMW’s styling for a more subtly satirical approach. Either way, apart from looking like a modern BMW does, it’s hard to see any attraction. Bangle’s first-gen effort now looks masterly in comparison and I was not a fan at the time.

  5. The Side View of the BMW is not showing any hints of a BMW-DNA. The bonnet is too short and the C pilar too small and there are no vertical lines.

    The new Corsa is not a design revolution, but a very nice car without any fault. I was hoping too it will come with the new fresh and clean front design of the Xprmtl but maybe this would be too revolutionary. What´s good : they removed the silly chrome strip from the upper roof line to the bottom of the window – that looks much better. And i like the subtile changes of the Opel badge.

    1. The new PSA Corsa is fine, but a little disappointing. Like Markus, I had hoped for something bolder, given the teaser photo of the headlamp, but the front end is very generic, with the usual separate grille and headlamps instead of the “mini-Camaro” look some commentators had sketched out.

      The side profile is rather like the Fabia but the short rear door (and handle positioning) is, as Simon observed, a dead giveaway that this is essentially a reskinned new 208. I guess it’s a “safety first” design because of the need to ditch the nearly complete GM design for the Corsa F and bring this to market very quickly.

      Where will it sit relative to the 205; cheaper, more expensive, or at a similar price point per model? Does PSA need to think about a hierarchy for their brands, or is the “French vs German” distinction for Peugeot and Opel enough to stop each cannibalising each other’s sales? Citröen, one hopes, will continue to be sufficiently different to avoid this potential conflict.

      Markus, you’ll have to enlighten me as to the changes to the Opel “Blitz” logo. Even wearing my most beige anorak, I can’t idrntify what they’ve done with it. Is it just that the circle and flash lines are thinner than before?

    2. The Opel-Blitz is now slimmer than before and the wings running from the headlights to the Blitz are no longer wings but just simple fine lines.
      The part of the taillights on the tailgate are without lamps. Which is excusable in this class. I hope the fuel powered versions are coming without fake exhausts too. And with such nice alloy-wheels too. There are not many german cars with nicely designed wheels.
      The Corsa is light (the entry version is under 1000 Kilogramm) and very nimble in towns with a very small turning circle of less than 10 meters. Promising datas…

  6. What I also notice in the BMW’s side view is how they now join this errant bandwagon of raising lower window lines. So far the German manufacturers seemed pleasantly reluctant to do this. Isn’t it strange how more and more cars adopt rear doors and drop their 2/3 door variants, but clearly don’t seem to be designed with rear passengers in mind?

  7. I like the term ‘van Hoydoonk kink’. The good sir might actually even take it up himself!

  8. Apart from its front end (grilldneys?) treatment announcing
    a radical parting with tradition, what I find most baffling
    in the new 1-er is its front door shape/profile/handle placement: it looks like if it was taken straight
    away from a W204 C-class, or even some
    more recent Stuttgart product?

    Significant contributors thereto must be the doorhandle design and placement, but the general shape of the
    door / front part of DLO is also very Benzicular,
    almost unnervingly so.

    What puzzled me as well, is that it was revealed practically
    in the same moment when the brave and glamorous
    Garmisch reconstruction took place. The kidneys
    on that exotic concept, are explicitely shaped,
    which I find subliminally relevant.
    Especially with their recent, rather ill-received
    ‘radical interpretations’ of this iconic design detail.
    A message, perhaps?

    Mainstream the new 1-er undoubtedly is, yet I think it is
    the first of the recent Munich cars that convincingly
    attempts to at least slightly settle-down the
    vigorous styling waters that they’ve
    been lately swimming thru.

    It has a marked, justified and undeniable tension in its profile, and the rear-end view offers a delicate balance ‘tween a hot-hatchy ‘squat’ and a (cleverly concealed) promise
    of MPV-ish space generousity.

    I’m curious to the true wheel sizing on display, too – as,
    the bulk of the slightly MPV-ish profile seems to be cunningly masked by the styling itself, and probably not by the blatant method of using 20-inch wheels as was in the
    case of LvDA Scenic?

    Once one stops comparing it with the brilliantly-individual-in-hindsight orig. E82 1-er (the more recent RWD 1-series were anti-styled and grotesque, with that cartoonish
    giant Hofmeister DLO…), the new one appears to promise exactly what Eoin anticipated in the above article:
    to catch both the 2-Series downsizer buyers, yet retaining enough ‘static motion’ to appeal to more conventional,
    aggressive-minded 1-Series buyers.

    The FWD aspect is worrying purely from a marketing
    point of view, hence is risky mostly in heavily
    marketing-dependant markets. In Europe,
    I’d reckon that true drivers know very
    well that the Vierzylinder have created what
    is one of the most addictive-driving FWD cars ever
    made – the R53 Mini.

    It’d suffice if the new 1-er feels at least remotely similar
    to that car. Still, for its hardcore iterations (M135i, eventually 1M…), the demise of RWD is anyway a tragic, gruelsome event.

    The final styling verdict will need to be given once it’s available to see it on the streets, amidst the contemporary, bulky-sized strassenbild elements (where, in contrast, its cleverly restrained MPV-ishness should in theory be
    even less of a distraction).

  9. Today, Car Magazine has published pictures of a BMW small saloon prototype designed by Marcello Gandini in 1970. The original went missing but this is a faithful recreation:

    Its elegant simplicity of line makes an interesting contrast with BMW’s current output. Surely it is possible with modern engineering technology to produce something equally attractive that satisfies all safety regulations?

    1. Overall this is a decent concept car so I am nit-picking when I say the area between the rear lamp and the fuel filler (second photo) is wierd.

    2. Hi Richard. Yes, it does look odd from that angle. I think the trailing edge of the fuel filler flap is drawn parallel to the uptick in the bodyside crease, cannot see that from the angle of the photo. There isn’t a photo of that side online, but here’s the other side:

      I think the honeycomb effect over the rear window is a bit contrived, but otherwise it’s a nice design, particularly given that it predates even the first 3 Series. (Note the 2002 badging).

      Here’s the interior:

      Incidentally, what do you think of the new 1 Series? Do my adjustments help matters at all?

    3. I found a photo:

      It was a nice idea trying to incorporate the fuel filler flap in this way, but doesn’t work from other angles, so a conventional rectangular flap (ideally further forward) would be preferable

    4. Thanks for posting these.
      The car has come up before at DTW though the images were less informative ones.
      Now I look at it, I see a shape that suggests two other different cars trapped in one shape. Of course it´s hard to read the car without thinking of the first 5 series. The key difference is in the fact BMW forced parallelism on the bodyside whereas Gandini´s has a wedginess to it.
      Gandini´s car is suggestive of a super car or GT theme stretched over a saloon body.
      The design at least is rich in suggestion – I can´t tell if I want it to be more like one pure theme or that it should be ambiguous and hovering between two alternate states (“Gandini´s car”).

    5. I really take to the attention for detail and the beautifully clean surfaces of this design. But I really prefer the proportions of the E9 , which (as stated previously) to me remains the car that made BMW what it is, well, was(?).

      With its tall greenhouse and small wheels this concept looks a bit too Lancia Kappa Coupé-esque for a confident, somewhat athletic GT car, I find. At least on pictures.

      Curious to read what Herr Butt will tell us about it in a short while to come…

    6. Max: the Gandini car is missing visual weight at the front. Perhaps a deeper front valence would help.
      I messed about with the proportions using an image editor and found the design works best as GT not as coupe.
      Undoubtedly there is something of the Gandini in the E9 – but not a great deal.
      In another sketch I added about 10 cm between the front wheel arch and the leading edge of the front door. I also knocked 5% off the glass house. Vastly better that way.
      Why are we discussing this and not the Opel? On current form, the Opel is going to look rather swish and lithe. Will it be more alluring than the Fiesta though?

    7. Amazing how many of the same cues as on the Bertone/FIAT X/19 are on this car. It’s just differently proportioned but so many details are the same (rear lights, side indents, DLO shapes, wheel-arches.

    8. Hi Daniel,

      It looks like it has 2 Renault logos at the front instead of the kidney grille !

  10. A new-series 3 is parked on the end of my road. The Hofmeister kink effect has been submerged. Someone did not understand or show respect for the feature. Referring to them as Munich Mondeos does the actual Mondeo a huge disservice. I am not saying the 3 is devoid of talent; I am saying the aesthetics are lacking seriousness.

  11. “I think the honeycomb effect over the rear window is a bit contrived”

    Hi Daniel. Gandini was always a great one for reusing design elements from his other designs, wasn’t he.

    1. Hi John. I’ve been perusing his back catalogue and you’re not wrong. He loved his grilles and louvres. Here’s the most outrageous I found, the Lamborghini Marzal:

      The lovered rear screen is even more striking from this perspective:

    2. That rear screen on the Lamborghini reminded me of the grille you could sometimes find on a Citroen CX. That grille was kind of embarrassing on an old, decrepit CX, it just looked dodgy.

  12. Herriott’s remark is spot on. The Garmisch is indeed unexplicably tail-heavy. Only Gandini could get away with
    a design that’s so ill of proportion,

    It is, nevertheless, an immensely relevant car, as one can see so much of their styling heritage stemming from certain
    solutions employed on this one.

    The interior is relevant beyond belief.

    The ‘kidneys’ are sheer mysticism.

  13. I think it’s brave of BMW to move on from the Hoffmeister kink. A lot of people like it as an unmistakable BMW design element but I think they need to stay a step ahead, otherwise they might run the risk of becoming passé and cliché I would think.

    Maybe they saw fit to loosen up a bit with regards to things they’ve been doing for many, many years (The kink, the double kidneys,…). There’s only so many variations of a roof line that fits the kink so, design-wise, the ever present kink was perhaps becoming a hindrance.

    However I wasn’t thrilled when I first saw the pictures of the new 1 series, I think I thought it looked a bit generic viewed from profile and prefer the last 3 series but it’s growing on me, sometimes you need a few weeks/months to better appreciate a car’s new look.

    1. I mean the kink is practically erased on the X2, unless you’re supposed to read the rising window line as part of a giant kink ? I remember the shock when I saw the X2 without a pronounced kink, it felt strange and unBMW like but ya all need to change with the times you bunch of old croutons. 🙂

    2. As one of the aforementioned “old crutons”, I take your point, but my problem is the quality of execution as much as the evolution/distortion of the Hofmeister Kink. I actually like design of the the X2, but even here the DLO has an unnecessary and nasty plastic fillet inset into the D-pillar.

  14. Regarding the new 1 series having similar headlights to the A class and other Mercedes, more than an outright copy I think there’s constantly a desire from the premium car manufacturers to have a ‘unified’ German look and the German 3 tend to mimick each other’s habits (see BMW’s increasingly Mercedes-like door handles). Sometimes it’s Mercedes that adopt something BMW is doing. I may be wrong here but I always felt like it was kind of a tacit agreement between them. Since then, I think other carmakers have cottoned on to the idea of a ‘national’ look. Is it a coincidence that all French car makers, except Citroën for now, have protubering fangs ?
    Back to the German three, I think one of the direction they’ve been heading into lately is taller windows, a bit like a return to the aesthetics of the 70s and 80s now that most carmakers worldwide have mimicked their high window line and letter box DLOs.

    1. “…all French car makers except Citröen…”

      That would be, er, two; Peugeot and Renault?

      A rather liberal interpretation of the word “all”, NRJ, if I might be so bold as to say so. It reminds me of the way my fellow countrymen use the word “couple” to mean any number equal to or greater than two. For example:

      “I’m just going for a couple of pints.”

      I’ll get my tin hat…

    2. On the same subject I remember that the Germans didn’t seem that enamoured with the dual-colour tail lights that came in fashion in the 90s while the French embraced them. I’m talking about those grey and red or black and red tail lights. The Germans resisted a long time with their tradionally coloured tail lamps (red, white, orange) even if they dipped into the more modern trend now and then.

    3. Now I wonder what was the last German car with traditional red/white/orange tail lights. Maybe there’s even a current car with them.

    4. On the French side and on the top of my head I would say maybe the AX was the last Citroën with red/white/orange tail lights but I could be wrong. I’ll think of the other carmakers…..

    5. Hmm…IMHO, DS is to Citröen as a dove is to a pigeon; essentially the same, but with pretensions.

      Now, your question regarding tail lights is a good one. I’d hardly noticed the disappearance of orange rear indicator lenses until you pointed it out. I’ll get my thinking hat on…

    6. For Renault, and again on top of my head, maybe it’d be the Renault kangoo. For Peugeot I think it’s as far back as the pre-facelift 309…..

    7. I don’t dispute DS and Citroën’s ambivalent relationship, I’m just saying DS has those light sabers too, albeit in a more sinuous form, not just Peugeot and Renault.

    8. Got one, a current German car with orange rear indicator lenses:

      Interestingly (well, to me at least) the Up! only got the orange indicators when it was facelifted. The original model had red/white tail lights, which were much neater and more cohesive than the very un-VW current items, IMHO:

    9. I’m afraid I won’t be able to count the UP as a contender Daniel. The lights are only orange because they’re ON. In this case almost every single current car would count because the side indicator lights up orange, even under a grey or black coating. No, what I’am looking for is a distinct Orange/red/white colour scheme when the lights are OFF. Like the 205 pre-facelift for example.

    10. Regarding the borrowing of style cues from each other it could perhaps be argued that Mercedes took a leaf out of BMW this time and aligned itself with the 3 series proportions when they refurbished the C-class. Traditionally their D-segment contender always had a different approach to its proportions (190e, earlier C-class,…).

    11. I haven’t checked the German cars but just to get a reference for now, the VW T4, produced until 2003, had the trio of colours. I suspect LCVs would be a good place to search because they never had the latest trends their regular siblings had on account of being workhorses with no fashion rights, always getting the old clothes from the bigger siblings.

    12. Already we can see a big difference between the years the French let go of the colour scheme (for now, the times of the AX, the Kangoo 1 and the 309) and the approximate years the German carried on doing it until (VW T4’s era).

    13. Hi NRJ. Actually, the Up!’s indicators are not on. It’s the sunlight reflecting off the inner orange (and red) lenses. In your photo, the sun is in front of the car, so you can’t really see any of the coloured inner lenses.

      It’s a fair point that, although it is orange, it’s not part of a conventional, traditional orange/red/clear lens. All the inner coloured lenses are covered by an outer clear (or slightly tinted?) piece of plastic. Actually, it’s a lot of effort and cost to produce something that just doesn’t look very good, IMHO. The Skoda Citigo items are simpler and smarter:

    14. If they’re still any doubters about my findings, please consider these French vs German cars, from the same segment and sold around the same time, displaying the different philosophies vying for supremacy:

    15. You talking about the Citigo reminds me that the Arosa had the 3 colour scheme (on one side only !) and we all know the Arosa is more German than Spanish.

  15. Regarding Renault, the company swam against the tide when they facelifted the Mk1 Laguna from this:

    to this:

    which, most unusually, had orange lines over the reversing light lenses to unify them with the indicator lenses.

    1. Spoilers galore.

      It’s not bad the colour scheme on the facelifted Laguna. Orange and red (without the white) is not that common I’d think. Red and grey, red and black and red and white are more common perhaps.

  16. A good example of ‘parallel universe’ taillights was the Golf IV: lesser models had the orange/red/white, whilst Edition/Highline et al.had the black/red.

    Always thought it was playing it safe.

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