The blogosphere has been excited about this “concept” car which is scheduled for production. Most people like the sportscar format and funky exterior design. We like it because….
…it has felt door cards. This material has been hanging around waiting to be used in this way for a long time. As well as being recyclable and very light compared to plastic, it improves the cabin acoustics and feels nicer to the touch. The minimum radius attainable by felt is quite large so it yields nice round forms and smooth sweeps when folded across the door structure. Handling this must have provided some challenges to the manufacturer and I am in doubt as to whether it will see the light of day.
Car Design News reported the death of the car designer and educator, Bryon Fitzpatrick.
Bryon Fitzpatrick might be considered one of the godfathers of car design education. In the absence of a proper industrial design course in Australia. As CDN describes it: “Fitzpatrick studied at Queensland Technical College in Brisbane where he pioneered the study of Industrial Design: “The subject of Industrial Design wasn’t offered there in the 1950s, so he went to the head of school and said that’s what he wanted to do,” Bryon’s son Leon has shared with [CDN]. “They basically assembled it themselves – drafting, furniture making, visualisation – which also included courses from the US.” Having done that, Fitzpatrick set off in search of a work and career, to Australia, Denmark (where he designed for B&O), Germany (for Ford under Uwe Bahnsen) and on to the US. Continue reading “Bryon Fitzpatrick, The Drawing Machine.”
In a revised piece from the earliest days of DTW we look at the UK’s first true economy car. But we make an even grander claim for it.
My French teacher at grammar school, Mr Roberts, had a small collection of Austin 7s from the 1920s, which he alternated using as transport to work – back then, that sort of car collection was practical, even on a teacher’s starter salary. I think that he considered me a bit of a prat (and history has certainly vindicated him on some levels) so, sensing this, I reciprocated with contempt for his collection of little, old and, at the time, very cheap cars. In hindsight, I might have had a more rewarding time discussing the niceties of the Ulster, Ruby, etc with him and he might have decided that I had some redeeming features. I deeply regret my glib teenage contempt, though it was entirely my loss. He was right, I was wrong. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – 7 Degrees of Separation”
With the particulates still settling over the VW emissions scandal, automakers are under scrutiny like never before. Yet VW may not end up being worst off – not by a long shot.
Almost a month into the VW emissions scandal, repercussions remain within the realm of conjecture and the view ahead no clearer. Everyone wants answers – VW owners who feel cheated and in possession of a tainted product, legislators (complicit or no) who now have to deal with the political fallout, and us – the faceless commentators who dole out harsh judgements from a safe distance, before scuttling back to the safety of our caves. Continue reading “NOxgate – Through a Looking Glass, Darkly”
On the downside, this is a critical comment: “Rather than bringing Tesla closer to the goal of the Model III, the Model X may be a 2.5-ton warning sign that the company is either unwilling or unable to pull it off. The Model X’s prohibitively expensive technology, including its low-volume aluminum construction, batteries and propulsion system, is virtually identical to that of the Model S. In other words: The Model X may Continue reading “What the Others Are Saying About the Tesla X”
It’s not easy to find much to say about this vehicle.
All the features on this car, barring the plastic mouldings around the hem are straight off the saloon. They are all masssaged and tweaked to fit the package and credit is due here for this being a much less forced exercise than the translation of Porsche 911 cues onto the Cayenne. It also says something about the blandness of the saloon. Continue reading “2016 Tesla Model X Design Notes”
How has the new Vauxhall Astra been received so far?
There are two approaches to this. From the US, motoring scribes are asking what the new Astra means for Buick since the Astra-platform is going to be used as a basis for forthcoming Tri-Shield cars. The European view is more direct since we get the Astra without American make-up. Doubtless the Chinese are also asking about the Astra. It is sold there as the Buick Excelle XT. It’s the platform that matters rather than the dressing on top. The view is that the Astra had outgrown its class (whatever that really means). Continue reading “2016 Opel Astra Reviews Review”
What with all the kerfuffle regarding Ferdinand Piech’s stepping down from his post as leader of VAG’s board of directors this summer, it went by almost unnoticed that an era was ending at BMW, too.
Norbert Reithofer is not what one would call ‘showy’. He’s gifted with neither the shock-frosting stare of a Piech nor the gunslinging attitude of a Bob Lutz. Reithofer’s hint of a Bavarian accent and non-boisterous delivery were the most noteworthy elements of his public appearances.
So far, so unexceptional. In keeping with BMW traditions, the end of Reithofer’s tenure also wasn’t accompanied by bells and whistles – it’s as though the office of ‘A’, which is what the CEO of BMW is traditionally being referred to internally, is merely being rented out to another tenant (former head of production, Harald Krüger, to be precise). Continue reading “‘A’ Departure”
There I was, a lowly commoner, behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB9, one of the finest cars in the world by anyone’s measure. Before me, beyond the long, long bonnet, was a circuit laid out on an abandoned airfield. And no speed restrictions.
The occasion was a “supercar experience”. Held both for and by people too impoverished for supercar ownership, a variety of “exotics” were available, ranging from a mark 1 Lotus Elise, through a slightly ratty 997 Porsche 911, to a visibly distressed Ferrari 355. The Aston Martin, immaculate and barely a couple of years old, was an easy choice.
A hundred grand’s worth of England’s finest conveyance was a nice place to sit. The seats and steering wheel where covered in soft leather. Only the analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard jarred, perhaps purely through association with the mark 2 Mondeo.
Have you been a victim of TDI? Our journalists are waiting.
The author writes:
When we founded Driven to Write, we didn’t exactly begin with a set of guiding principles. Our aim was to provide an alternate voice to the mainstream motoring press and perhaps hold their feet to the fire from time to time. Similarly, ‘Big Auto’ and their well remunerated leaders have frequently felt the sting of our pen. However, one thing we never set out to do was to cause a member of the public to feel belittled and hurt, which is what this piece unintentionally achieved. Continue reading “‘I’m Really Rather Cross’ – A VW Owner Speaks Out”
Automotive News reports that expansion in the use of robotics and the increased use of battery packs will drive the repatriation of car production to Europe and the US.
The gist of the story is that it will make less sense to have production of vehicles in places such as China (far from the West) when robotics can replace labour, when the parts are costly to ship and when the cost of over-seas labour is rising. The effect will be to make it once more economically sensible to have car production in the US and Europe that might previously have been unprofitable. Continue reading “Bringing It All Back Home”
Mark Hamilton spurred this inquiry. The game here is to play spot the reference. I see mostly Ford’s kinetic design below the waistline. The C-pillar was artfully inspired from the Nissan Maxima concept car, I hazard. In the grille the designers have married a blend of Buick and Honda. At the back I see a little BMW in very homeopathic, watered down way. Or else it’s more Nissan. The CS35 does have what look likes good approach and departure angles. Continue reading “What Bertone Could Do For A Chinese Nameplate”
A week is a long time in the motor business and this sh*tstorm just got real.
I sat down today to write something of a Frankfurt IAA overview. A sofa-eye view of the trends, winners, losers and why-botherers. Post-NOxgate however, there’s only one story, no winners and one loser. Well perhaps more than one.
Car Design News has this interesting snippet, to the effect that Giugiario is thinking of buying the Bertone styling house.
“But why would they use the Bertone name? There are a number of reasons, some more practical than others. Firstly the Bertone name, despite falling from grace before its eventual closure last year, is still widely known and synonymous with some of the most fantastic cars in history, some of which were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro himself during his time at the company from 1960 to 1965. This gives it the immediate advantage of its heritage,” writes Car Design News. Continue reading “Car Design Gossip”
This little survey was prompted by SV Robinson. How old is the Subaru range and what does it consist of?
The price ranges from £17,500 to £30,000 (rounded up a shade). The average price is £24,700. The Outback and Forester are available with six options; the XV with four and the others with one or two. What is a Levorg? I have not read any reviews of this and the name is appallingly made up. You can read Autocar’s view here (it’s a 4-wheel drive estate). There’s no Legacy, note. When did that happen? Subaru’s range is composed entirely of niche vehicles, barring the Impreza which is a five door, five-seater hatchback. Everything else is niche with a topping of niche (boxer engines or boxer diesel engines). Continue reading “How Old Is Subaru’s Range?”
They are showing us the PHEV version of the Outlander. That’s really it.
This is what MMC say about their car: “The Outlander PHEV was first launched in Japan in January 2013 as the world’s first plug-in hybrid 4WD SUV. Now exported to 48 countries including those in Europe, it is the world’s fastest selling PHEV with cumulative sales of some 70,000 units.” I didn’t know that but also don’t know enough about the Continue reading “What Is Mitsubishi Offering at the IAA at Frankfurt This Year?”
Fiat acquired the shattered remnants of Lancia in 1969. The Italian car giant was ill-prepared for what it discovered.
Fiat made its name, reputation and not inconsiderable fortune from small cars, cost-engineered and rationalised to be inexpensive to produce, to buy and to maintain. During Italy’s post-war industrial boom, the Turin car maker grew massively, catering to the home market’s growing affluence and thirst for motorisation. By the late 1960’s however, Fiat’s management realised that over 70% of their car business was concentrated in the bottom end of the market – one with the least potential for profit. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Two”
DTW has been out sampling the colours of the important new cars shown at Frankfurt so far.
…and none of the ones I looked at were green. That anti-green trend is continuing then. Obviously Bugatti’s car was going to be Bugatti blue. Ford went with an interesting orange metallic (as did Seat). Bentley made a choice for a paler version of gold with which to dress the Bentayga. Say what you like about the rest of the car, the colour is very nice indeed, not a million miles away from Volvo’s Maya Gold from some years back. Continue reading “2015 Frankfurt IAA Colour Palette”
“The new Megane is an integral part of Renault’s design strategy renewal,” says Renault styling supremo Laurens Van Der Acker.
He goes on to say “Its dynamic lines project both sensuality and status, while its assertive proportions provide it with a well-planted stance on the road and its sculpted forms and strong shoulders hint at the brand’s Latin roots. It features a distinctive lighting signature both front and rear, by day as well as by night, in its elegant interior exudes an unmistakeable cockpit feel.” Thanks, Laurens. It’s just dark. And very 2009.
What does he mean by design strategy renewal? Any guesses?
Thank you Renault for showing in public your new C-D class competitor in estate guise.
Renault sent me an e-mail about this. The estate, they said, was making its public debut at Frankfurt. The press release’s first point was “sleek style mated to huge practicality.” Also, seven other points related to safety, load space, ride and handling and a launch date in the first half of 2016. 54% of sales are taken by estate models, say Renault. Is it really only half? Some cars, you would think exist only as estates: Peugeot 407 and indeed the Talisman’s luckless predecessor, the Laguna. Continue reading “2016 Renault Talisman Re-Revealed”
Just fifty-four years after closing down, Borgward is back with the BX-7. And it just had to be disappointing, didn’t it?
I expected a saloon or sports car.
Autobild reports that the car will be shown at the Frankfurt IAA in late September. Autobild politely call the car a classical SUV with a lightly modernised version of the Borgward emblem. The Truth About Cars thinks it looks like a Buick crossed with a Porsche. The car has a high beltline (Autobild tells us that too) and in case you wondered what the vehicle is when it passes you, it says Borgward in huge individual letter on the bootlid. It’s 4.7 metres long (which is middle-sized). Powering the car are a 244 PS 2.0-litre turbo petrol and a 410 PS plug-in hybrid system. How much for this? €26,000 reckons Autobild. Continue reading “Borgward’s BX-7 Revealed”
Eoin’s recent article reminded me of other cars launched in 1975. Does anyone remember the Foden NC? But who can forget the Peugeot 604 and Ferrari 308GTB/GS?
The Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch twins emerged into the depths of the Malaise Era in the US, as did the AMC Pacer. The Lancia Montecarlo also turned up, more by accident than design as it was intended to be a Fiat. Had it been a Fiat doubtless its birth year might have been ’74 or ’73. Lancia needed time to add a grille and check the brakes were very dangerous. Continue reading “DTW’s Car Of The Year 1975”
They managed 14 mpg on this trip even though. I will write a little more about this article soon. The short version is that the car offered “pace and quiet” with detail failures in addition to looking “ugly”. The photo is evocative, isn’t it?
For any marque enthusiast, wheel design can be as evocative and redolent of its era as any design flourish or styling theme. To me at least, these wheels just scream Jaguar, in the same way wires did during the 1960s. I’ve habitually known them as the GKN Kent alloy, standard equipment on the original launch-spec Jaguar XJ-S and optional on XJ saloons over the ensuing decade and a half. The final XJ saloon that left the Browns Lane production line in 1992 was a Series 3 Daimler Double Six on ‘Kents‘. No other wheel design served Jaguar as long or suited the car as well. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – The GKN Kent Alloy”
Marchionne’s Merger Mania Examined – Again. Where Driven to Write leads, the mainstream press follow: Autocar finally gets around to examining the Marchionne plan.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Recently, one of our readers took us to task over our coverage of FCA’s latest product plans, suggesting we were being unduly negative about them and about FCA’s knitwear enthusiast-in-chief. It’s easy to see why, but at least we have been applying our critical faculties to the subject – something that has (up to now) been conspicuously absent in the mainstream automotive media. Continue reading “Mega-Size Me”
Recent discussions here led me to wonder about components named after places. It turns out there are not so many and Ford is the most romantic of all in this regard.
What started this was the mention of the ZF gearbox used in later Peugeot 604s. I recalled that the GM Strasbourg unit initially did service in that car, a smooth 3-speeder of ancient lineage even in 1976. It was replaced by a ZF unit in 1981. In 2012 GM sold their Alsatian gearbox plant and among their customers is now ZF. I think naming such components after places rather than giving them technical names is rather endearing. When you think of the Strasbourg automatic ‘box, you think of this: Continue reading “Romantic Names for Components: A Thing of the Past”
From September 29th you can buy one of these, a Tesla model X. Would you?
Porsche spent a long time relying on essentially one shape. They tried a few alternatives in the form of the 924, 944 and 928 but none of them gelled or won approval except from design purists and die-hard Porschophiles. When it came time to create the first generation Cayenne they simply stretched the 911 theme over the carcass of an SUV. It still sold because people who like bombastic, gaz-guzzling roadwhales don’t care about how their car looks.
The news today is that after the launch of the new Giulia, Alfa Romeo promises, no really promises – and they mean it this time – to launch a new model every six months.
The table above holds a lot of question marks as soon as it reaches the dim future time known as 2018. The following year’s plan is hard to read because there is a car pasted into the image. Fiat’s plans are rather flimsy. In 2016 and 2017 Fiat dealers will have ‘refreshed’ versions of the 500 and 500L. Did you know that by 2016 the 500 will have been on sale since the death of William Gladstone. It is older than the hills.
You can take a look at an old product plan here to see that since 2014 the new Spider and new D-class SUV were supposed to have been on sale. What value this new product plan?
We really went at this topic with gusto. Did we learn anything?
Editor Simon introduced the topic and noted that panel gaps or shutlines at their best become a positive part of the design and not are merely an interruption. And we spent the best part of the month demonstrating all the ways to get it wrong. Sean noted the problem of getting the wheel arch and door shutlines to relate properly. Should they follow the arch or should they form their own discrete shape on the side of the car as on the Renault Laguna or Passat? The case is not proven. I went over some old ground from another angle, looking at how the shutline between the bumper and the body has gained more and Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – A Review”
The tale is etched in automotive folklore, but how well do we really know the Lancia Gamma ? In this series, we unravel its difficult birth and inglorious career.
Death by a thousand Fiats:
Fiat’s stewardship of Lancia has been such a shameful series of episodes, it’s difficult now to imagine the road to perdition being paved with good intentions. Because if nothing else, the Gamma stands as an illustration of how mergers and acquisitions never quite work out. Throughout its history as an independent manufacturer, Lancia produced exquisitely engineered automobiles that garnered respect and deep admiration, but consistently cost more than the company could afford. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part One”
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at shutlines this past month…
… and one thing inevitably leads to another, so today we’re taking a (not particularly comprehensive) look at how manufacturers used to deal with another, often tricky junction. The one at the base of the C-pillar.
Renault have not one but two design studios in India. What is the result?
One of way of looking at it is that you get a competitive and competent looking vehicle. As a raised-height hatchback it is what Indian customers want: “This is because the project was both Indian as well as French. Most of the data collection, however, was done from here, on the ground. It had to be. Renault was keen on an immersive experience for its design team. It wanted the design staff to be drowning in the local culture and local tastes, and there was a special emphasis on what Indian customers disliked too. This is how they discovered what Indian customers really meant when they said they wanted more car for their money.” Continue reading “Into the Magimix Goes National Style”
Reuters have reported that in future most Buicks sold in the US may be imported.
Buick sell nearly a million cars a year in China but only about 230,000 vehicles in the US. The basis of Buick’s credibility in China is that the car represents upper-middle class quality and American values. In the US, Buick appeals or has appealed for similar reasons. Sources close to GM are quoted as saying that in future only the LaCrosse replacement and the Enclave SUV will Continue reading “Buick Risks Its Credibility”
Ford’s 2015 Transit is a staggeringly competent piece of kit, but what’s with the creases?
One of my most memorable journeys of recent memory was a trip from Leatherhead in Surrey to Newcastle in a fully laden rented Ford Transit. Memorable for the staggering competence of the vehicle and the relative ease in which the 300 mile journey was dispatched. I handed back that van with an almost audible sob. It was that impressive. Continue reading “Transitory Lines”
Not long after losing Luc Donckerwolke from Bentley, SEAT has lost Stefan Lamm who had only been there for seven months.
CDN reports that Stefan Lamm has left for Mercedes’ advanced design studio in Carlsbad, California. That will be some bill for MB’s HR department when Lamm packs up from SEAT and I imagine SEAT have only just finished processing the expenses. Continue reading “What’s Wrong With VAG?”
Our good friends at Automotive News Europe have interviewed Citroen’s CEO, Linda Jackson: expect more Cactussy Citroens.
Here is the article’s intro: “The C4 Cactus has been a sales winner. Citroen has sold 90,000 C4 Cactus models since its debut last year and the car was awarded the World Car Design of the Year at the New York auto show in April. Citroen CEO Linda Jackson wants to channel the quirky compact hatchback’s success into the rest of the brand’s lineup. Jackson explained how in an interview with Automotive News Europe correspondent Nick Gibbs.” I recommend you Continue reading “Old Wine In A New Bottle? Or Old Wine In An Old Bottle?”
A look at some rear bumpers illustrates changes in the way cars are constructed
Around the mid 1980s the bumpers of most cars were quite separate items added to the front and rear of the car’s metal structure or “body in white” as it is sometimes known. If you look at a Volvo 340 in its first iteration, for example, the bumper is a plastic coated metal item wrapped around the wings and front valence. The same goes at the back. Clearly the bumper is not an integrated element of the car and you can Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Body In White Recedes”
FCA’s Olivier François outlines Fiat’s flat-pack future.
On the basis of his recent outpourings, I rather doubt whether FCA’s Olivier François has ever been to an IKEA retail outlet. After all, visiting one of their stores is a little like dentistry. Numbingly unpleasant but occasionally necessary. At such times I’m compelled to go, I try to plan my expeditions in military fashion. Go when its quiet, get in, get the target and get the hell out. Continue reading “Forthcoming Fiats Will Be Like IKEA.”
Regular readers of this site know that there are only three natural positions for a product in the car market: luxury, sporting and economy. And?
And don’t get pushed too far from them. That’s the no-man’s land of not very sporty, not very cheap and not very luxurious. The unmarked graves of Lincoln (unfilled at the moment), Saab, Oldsmobile and Lancia are all in that bourne from which no car maker returns. Apart from Saab and Borgward.
The LS racked up a few awards, namely Motor Trend’s car of the year 2000 and it was nominated as American Car of the Year though it was pipped by Ford’s Focus and Audi TT. The LS was also Lincoln’s first attempt to fight off its reputation as a car for the nearly dead. That battle is reminiscent of Cadillac’s fight for a younger image, a fight Lincoln is still losing 15 years later. Continue reading “Looking Back: 2000 Lincoln LS”
I remember seeing the concept car upon which this car was based. They included it at the 2000 London Motor Show though it was originally unveiled in Paris. Nissan intended to make a car as bold as the previous version had been blandly, if neatly styled.
Automotive Intelligence said this: “The Fusion concept is based on an ambitious philosophy. The brief to the Nissan designers was to develop an innovative style which adds strong emotional involvement to the traditional technical excellence of Nissan’s products; and to integrate western taste and Japanese roots, interpreted in a modern and even futuristic way.” Continue reading “Looking Back: 2001 Nissan Primera”
Has FCA’s on-off romance with GM entered a new phase?
Last week two seemingly unrelated news items landed, which taken on face value elicited only mild interest. But to a cut-price Max Warburton such as myself, the two stories add up to something a good deal more intriguing. Continue reading “There’s Something About Mary”
I had a Swiss Army Knife once, but I never used it and I don’t know where it is now. I’m willing to concede that it is probably a useful thing to have about your person and, were I marooned on an iceberg with polar bears ready to attack, I’m sure I’d curse the fact that I hadn’t hung on to that knife. Generally, though, I find the idea of multi-function devices problematic. First, all your eggs are in the one basket so, when one thing goes wrong, everything else is compromised. Second, instead of doing one thing adequately, they often do two, or more, things badly. Continue reading “Theme : Hybrids – The Swiss Army Knife Syndrome”