This is very likely the most striking car on sale today, the Toyota C-HR.
Inside and out, the car uses extremely expressive forms, taking the deconstructed appearance seen on some front-ends and bringing them around the sides. The exterior is conceived of in a rather different way compared to what, up until now, we have considered standard. It is available as normal petrol-engined car or as a hybrid but that’s not where the interest lies. No, madam.
Night lighting is continuing to fascinate me. Under the bright, cold glare of a street lamp, this Fusion showed off the car’s essential character.
The wheel arches stand out here as does the upper surface of the body side above the feature line and door handles. The time is nigh when I should get a camera able to capture the depth of black and the richer colour of night lighting. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 2004 Ford Fusion”
Long, thin lights make interesting reflections on car bodies. A malfunctioning restaurant sign made this Volvo panel especially fascinating.
These reflections show the contours of the front wing of a Volvo S60 from a sign. It had two strips running horizontally, one of which turned on and off at intervals. Image one shows the wing with one light illuminated. The second shows it with both strips illuminated. Continue reading “Highlights of Last Night”
What do you do when your product’s character derives from a particular look? Here’s how Ford revised the Mustang for 2015.
The overall change is that Ford have accentuated the horizontal character of the vehicle, front to back. While the old car looked more brutal and Aston-Martin-esque, the new one has smoother blends, and the two features that interrupted the front-to-rear flow are gone: the heavy B-pillar and the J-shaped scallop. At the front the lamps are slimmer and wrap around to the sides, again stressing horizontality and width. I think the previous car looked more masculine and robust. The new one loses some of that in the name of flow. Continue reading “Mustang Micropost: Compare and Contrast”
Usually cars in films are a background detail. Occasionally they have a more important role.
For the 1983 cinematographic production “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, a Ford LTD Country Squire was transformed into a Wagon Queen Family Truckster. The production designers could almost have taken a stock car as it was, so grotesque had some American vehicles become by the time the film was in production. Continue reading “Theme: Film – National Lampoon’s Vacation”
This image shows the interior of the Lexus UX concept car. There are functions and there are forms and there is no apparent bridge between them. I don’t believe the person who created this image had any idea how these forms would be realised in production. I think it’s okay to do free-form sketching in the initial stages of a design programme. It’s essential, even. Usually then the “feeling” of the first loose sketches get transferred to the structure of the likely interior components with changes made to both as the iterations are iterated. Continue reading “The Divorce of Form and Function”
Why does the VW ID concept have to look more styled than a VW Golf?
The ID concept is claimed to have a 371 mile range (compared to the 248 miles of a Renault Zoe). At present Chevrolet’s Bolt promises around 230 or so (and Car and Driver have confirmed this). I’m more interested in the visual semantics of electric cars though. Tesla have chosen to make their cars look quite conventional (less so with the X). BMW have opted for po-mo design while the Zoe could conceivably be an ordinary modernist car: not Tesla’s classicism and nor either obviously outré. Continue reading “Question of the Day”
It’s all change at Land Rover, as Archie Vicar might say. I have prepared this visual analysis of the car so as to show you what’s being offered.
The new car looks longer and lower and has lost a few degrees of rectilinearity. It has also lost the hard, industrial character which made the last Disovery so appealing and indeed distinct from the Range Rover above it. The residual roof bump might make sense in a design board meeting (“We’ve refenced the step in the roof, Bob, but made it more dynamic…”) but in reality it is now pure styling. The base of the A-pillar is visually very unsettling, a hard corner amidst a mass of radii. The previous model handled this area nicely. Notice the lamps are now horizonally accented and not vertical. They resemble a Ford S-Max and the stepped feature offers nothing functional. The BOF construction has gone as well as the square looks.
Verdict: the Discovery now looks like many other mid-size SUVs.
Quite some time has elapsed since I mentioned I’d write a little about the Bristol Bullet.
This reminds me of the legendary Archie Vicar taking several months to decide what he thought about the Peugeot 505. You can read the general outline here: big engine, light car, Italian retromod styling, carbonfibre body and a big price tag (£250,000). My first reaction is to welcome the existence of the car even if it’s not something I’d want to buy were I to have more of the world’s money than I do. Continue reading “Bristol Bullet (Part II)”
Sufficient time has elapsed now for Citroen to admit to making the CX.
Make that 25 years in the dog house before they could bear to put the name, or something like it, on their latest concept car, the Cxperience. Thancx, Citroen. Extrapolating from this we may have the Xmination concept car in 2026. The car is showcasing the drivetrain and not the appearance. We’ll see what others have to say about the oily/electrical bits first. Continue reading “2016 Citroen Cxperience Concept”
By the time this is published you may very well know what the concept design in question looks like. I think it’s an interior concept but may involve a new exterior form language. I didn’t want to nudge any of our other articles to one side for a teaser so the first available place to discuss it is here, after your breakfast. Continue reading “News From a Few Days Ago”
John Topley penned this rumination on the Ford Ka when it went out of production. I thought you might like to take a look.
About the only point where I am not in agreement with John is what he refers to as the Ka’s discordant lines. What makes the shape work for me is that absolutely everything adds up to a strong unity. Amazingly, the alternative design was as wrong as the actual one is right. Continue reading “More Ka Thoughts”
When confronted by a question of taste, I always ask myself, what would Bryan Ferry do?
[First published Oct 10, 2014]
My extensive research has thrown up a nice example of a sub-set of a subset, designer accessories for designer editions of mass produced cars. It’s Gucci fitted luggage for the 1979 Cadillac Seville. Would Bryan Ferry go for this or not? The Big Two and a Half in the US have been more prone to tie-ins and designer editions of their cars than we have here in the social-democratic paradise of Western Europe. Cartier have been associated with Lincoln; Bill Blass added his magical touch to the understated elegance of the 1979 Lincoln Continental Mk V; there was the 1984 Fila-edition Ford Thunderbird; AMC asked Oleg Cassini – yes, that Oleg Cassini – to trim the 1974 Matador, for example. Just recently I have become aware of the Gucci fitted luggage that came with the Gucci-edition Cadillac Seville, truly a part of this very fine tradition. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Matching Designer Luggage”
Few Murano’s roam about Jutland. I’ve always liked this car even if I am not a fan of softroaders.
The Murano shows what we might call Japanese design rationalism although the designers did their work in California. The bit we ought to notice is the very intelligent shutline management of the tailgate, rear lamps and rear quarter panel. The tailgate is oversized so as to eliminate the need for the roof panel to join to the C-pillar. Continue reading “2002 Nissan Murano: Americo-Japanese Rationalism”
During a conference on ugliness, the participants wondered if something could be ugly and still worth a further look.
I didn’t mention this car but I could have done. We’ve discussed here the marked difference between this and the predecessor; this example exemplifies Mercedes’ dropped standards of material quality and diligence of assembly. Even when tatty, the W-126 retains dignity, like an old tweed coat with a few patches. The W-210, in contrast, never looked good new and when the polycarbonate lenses become clouded and the MB star has fallen off, it becomes even worse. Continue reading “Theme: Materials – Decay II (1995 Mercedes W210)”
The car market is segmented into several slices. How are these distinguished?
When it comes to door skins, the supplier Johnson Controls has a good idea of what constitutes the appropriate level of luxury for each price level. They also have an eye on how these levels will change in the future. The image shows what you might expect to see in four classes of car in the near future. Continue reading “Trends in Doorcasings”
Following a discussion on the relative merits of various fabrics here and an article by Mick here I decided to take a preliminary look at the world of automotive fabrics.
Somewhat late in life I’ve developed a curious fascination with fabric in design. This is an extension of my interest in colour. The two go together and often a fine fabric is presented in a rather dreary hue or else a nice set of colours is marred by an unsuitable pattern or weave. For quite some time the world of vehicle fabrics has been stuck in a bit of rut. Fiat are perhaps the most notable exceptions to this, chiefly in their smaller cars. The rest of the world is trading – it seems – in dark grey woven cloth or unconvincing leather. Continue reading “Of Which the Stuff Of Dreams Are Woven”
The Peugeot 308 has better window trim than the Bentley Continental, which you wouldn’t expect. Only a brightwork obsessive would note that. Here is an example of the difference colour and trim make to a car. It’s a 2014-onward Peugeot 208. Small black cars aren’t that common, are they? Twenty years ago they were almost entirely unavailable which is why that Citroen Madame (?) we showed here was so unusual. Continue reading “Reflections On Chrome”
Yesterday we reported on the new Renault Scenic. I can see what inspired the shape of the side glass, a concept car from five years ago, the R-Space.
That car has a suicide rear door (not unlike the Lancia Appia we had on a while back). That made the precise character of the shutline feasible: a curve over the rear wheel intersecting at a point with the curve of the side glass of the front door. The way I see the actual production car, it’s a wobbly line and when the window rubbers at the B-pillar begin to become unmoored as they always do it’ll look appalling. So, I revised it. It would be nicer for kids sittting in the back.
A while back I ran an item on the connection between the 1991 Mercedes S-class and the Ulm School of Design. In it I promised I’d show some photos I took of the Deutsche Bahn ICE train which I propose as having been at least inspired by the Ulm School’s design approach.
This photo series was taken on the last run of the ICE direct line from Aarhus, Denmark to Hamburg, Germany in December, 2015. I took the opportunity to photograph the interior which is both modern and welcoming. It is full of thoughtful touches and is in contrast to the rather horrid Alstom commuter train I experienced recently.
For various reasons this year I have travelled more kilometres in public transport than in cars. What did I discover?
One thing is that cutting corners on the design of trains is a real false economy. The train shown here is a commuter carriage made by Alstom. The argument they’d make is that cutting the cost of the carriage keeps ticket prices down and attracts passengers. I’d argue that the cost of making this carriage something fit for humans is nugatory given the service life of the device. And since the passenger is probably comparing life in a car to life in a train, the train trip would have to be incredibly cheap for the cold brutality of this interior to be discounted. Continue reading “Ceci N’est Pas Une Voiture”
Yesterday we ran a small celebration of the Citroen ZX. Here’s a small gallery…
…showing the car as it is, with some window-lines marked up and then some small revisions which I think are in keeping with the designs of the period. The third side glass is neither fully aligned with the lines from the main DLO nor is it markedly different. I chose to make it more clearly different.
For the third image I raised the line of the third side glass to the same height as the top of the wing. Now there are two lines. One is the hypothetical line going from the top of the bonnet to the third side glass and the other is the line of the base of the windows. This can be interpreted as a dropped window line (the base of the doors’ glass is dropped relative to the bonnet-to-tail line).
I reduced the extent of the third glass at the top, echoing the BX as well as the XM. And the headlamp assembly is brought around so it is visible in the side profile. Lastly I got rid of the ugly rubber bar running along the base of be B-pillar.
In response to Simon’s suggestion I chamfered the sideglass and then I extended the third window to meet the frame of the rear door. To really polish this one would need to adjust all the corner radii so they looked the same. At present they are a mix of sizes. I found I had to add thickness to the C-pillar but to the rear. It seemed to thin otherwise.
To give a fresh look at the conclusion I mirrored the car.
Recently we had a bit of a discussion about the DS brand. I suggested the DS5 could do with being lower and having a different front fascia.
Squint and consider the roughly-made changes wrought on this image. It’s squashed by perhaps 7% and I deleted the busy stuff under the lamps. The foglamp moved rearwards. Out of curiosity I fixed the C-pillar. It’s crude work but gives at least a feel for what else this car might have been.
You’ll have to ignore the odd glitch in the A-pillar. That happened while I was compressing the image and I noticed it too late to change it.
Not another Opel. But it is. This is a follow-up to our Opel Astra saloon. I’d like to draw your attention to the fine detailing of the rear side window.
And the aerodynamically-shaped rear wheel arch looks good too. The interior is a study in Spartan efficiency. The centre stack rises from the floor in a neat column and to its left is driver-orientated binnacle. The seats in this car look quite unmarked and the rest of the car is nearly unaffected by the passage of time. I’d guess it’s a late-model car, one owner, with a garage. It has a 1.3 engine, so it’s pre-1988. If I hope to achieve anything with this focus on Opel, it’s to Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1984-1991 Opel Kadett 1.3 S”
Murilee Martin used to post Down At The Junkyard at Jalopnik. Here’s a discovery from 2010, a 1989 Volvo 780 ES. Alas, there’s no commentary, which is puzzling.
The 780 ES was presented the 1985 Geneva motorshow, and went on sale in 1986. That means this is its 30th anniversary year. Skol!
There is a nice collection of photos here plus a little bit of history. What I didn’t know is that the 780 ES was not only sold with the 6-cylinder PRV engine. One could also have a 2.0 L turbo I4, a 2.0 L turbo dohc I4 ,2.3 L turbo I4 and 2.4 L I6 turbodiesel. They only made about 6000 of the things so some of those must have been made in very small numbers indeed. Continue reading “A Bit More Volvo 780 ES: It’s 30 This Year”
Will this theme not tire us all? This BMW i3 caught my eye because of the novel arrangment of the bumper and bodysides.
Another element is the way the tailgate covers the lights. Audi have deployed this on some of their Q-series SUVs and good old Opel have managed it on their delightful Insignia estate. I have some history with this feature: as a newbie-designer (in 2002) I proposed this concept for a saloon and was told it was “not feasible”. Note to other designers, unless the laws of physics are challenged, everything is feasible given time and money. Always dispute the power of “no.”
The 2000-2004 Toyota Yaris Verso’s A-pillar is not quite tidied up, as if they lacked time for one more iteration during the modelling process.
The mirror sail panel is abutting the door-shut slightly and the A-pillar ends with an irregular looking outline. The doorshutline ought to have enclosed the mirror panel, perhaps. The rest of the car is equally unruly.
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 see the painted metal all around it. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Body In White Recedes”
Here it is, the long-awaited 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia, nice and official. It has the overall proportions of a BMW 3 from back in the day when these were proper compact sport saloons. The bonnet bulges for pedestrian-safety reasons. This is the Quadrifoglio version; it could look more appealing if there are versions with some more brightwork. What do you think?
“New Leyland small car spied”, writes Archie Vicar, in the 1978 edition of Contemporary Driving News Magazine. This transcript of what appears to be a commentary on the much-discussed new “Mini” shows Archie Vicar´s analytical journalism at its best. Photography by Jack Donning.
Spy photographers have caught the replacement for the much-loved but geriatric, cramped and unreliable Mini on test. The planned car is an advance on the very modern ADO88 design which the engineers at Leyland have been working on since the early 70s. The wheelbase is now longer than ADO88 in response to developments in the market since the project´s inception just after the second World War.
The promised car will be bigger than similar “superminis” such as the Volkswagen Polo and Renault 5 but will also be large inside to compensate. Sources are divided on the strategy taken with the car. Some say that much of the Mini´s renowned engineering will be carried over but improved. This means the same Hydragas suspension and pronounced gear-box whine.
When the “new” Corsa was announced in 2014, I felt that Opel had made a bit of a mis-step by offering what is very much a facelift and not a completely new body-shell. The main architecture of the earlier car is on plain view, with almost all exterior panels changed a bit but the roof looks to be identical to the predecessor.
By coincidence, on the heels of the Opel Adam Rocks, DTW has a chance to test its stablemate, the Corsa. Here are the main points of the news.
Having an opportunity to drive the “new” Corsa meant I could assess the car in isolation but also compare it to its zanier sister, the Adam. Mechanically the two cars are not far apart and the same goes for price. An Adam Rocks costs £14659 and an Opel like the one tested here costs £13,330 and more, depending on spec. The latter is a bit larger than the former and the Corsa comes in three and five door options (why no estate or convertible I wonder?). Continue reading “2015 Opel Corsa 1.0 Ecoflex review”
The most interesting thing about the 1965 Kadett is that it donated parts to the Opel GT. And even more interesting is the 1968 Opel GT was made in France by Brisonneau and Lotz in Creil. Eight versions of the Kadett could be had: four door saloon, two door saloon, two door fastback, four door fastback, a two and four door estate and two variants, one known in German as a Kiemencoupé and the other the LS coupé.
A few days ago we posted an article about the 1978 Colt 1400. I noticed the window line sags slightly. The Opel Manta did this along with a few other cars of the era. What effect would it have had if the window line was dead straight? I did a simple edit on the original photo and found the difference between a dead straight line and the actual line is small. Does it look better?
Odd looks and a bit duller to drive than its peers. That´s what the others say about Opel´s city car. What does DTW think? After 300 km and three days we know the real truth.
The Opel Adam is a city car based on the Opel Corsa platform. Not unlike the Ford Ka Mk1, it is made up of the front a supermini, with modifications (a reduction in length) starting from the A-pillar backward. The Adam´s selling point is customisation, with about 61,000 combinations of colour, trim and accessories available. It is intended to Continue reading “2015 Opel Adam road test”
VW Media Services reports that Stefan Sielaff is to take over as design chief following the departure of Loc Donckerwolke.
Sielaff will be a busy chap as he as also responsible for VW group´s interior design strategy. Of the two jobs, perhaps that is the most challenging as requires finding imaginative ways to justify the price differentials between VW´s many brands. Sielaff starts at Bentley in July. Donckerwolke was only at Bentley for three years meaning that for much of his tenure he was watching the work of his predecessor being released while his own efforts will be launched with Sielaff occupying his former post. Donckerwolke Continue reading “Bentley has a new design chief; Luc Donckerwolke leaves”
While we´re on this Citroen kick, I wondered idly about an alternative evolutionary pathway from where the XM left off. What could Citroen have done next?
Here is the Citroen C8 of the year 2000. In order to avoid giving critics ammunition, PSA invested in a new platform for the C8 which was adaptable such that a large Peugeot saloon and a corporate monospace were also spun off it at a later date. The main details were that it involved extensive use of lightweight steel and aluminium for the doors, bonnet and liftgate. The goal was to make a car slightly larger than the XM but weighing 10% less.
Opel revealed the next model of Astra replacing the version which has been on sale since 2009. According to Opel´s press release the new version is inspired by the 2013 Monza concept. They also say the car looks more athletic than the last version. On both counts I am uncertain.
But what is less uncertain are some of the factual claims. The new car is between 120 kg and 200 kg lighter and has smaller exterior dimensions than before. However, the interior is more roomy. I expect in particular that the boot is bigger as that was one critique of the current car. Another criticism has been the engine range, the efficiency thereof. The combination of more frugal engines and a 200 kg weight loss means the car will be in fore quite impressive efficiency gains.
As with the new Corsa, a lot of emphasis has been placed on the wirey, electricky, digital aspects so the car comes with OnStar which can provide connection to a concierge service, emergency services support and give the car a very high level of connectivity. GM has been offering OnStar for Cadillac in the US for years. It´ll be possible for up to seven mobile ‘phones to Continue reading “This is the next Opel Astra”
SV Robinson´s reviewof the Citroen Cactus is deservedly our most nibbled item of clickbait here at DTW. I finally had a chance to sample the delights of Citroen´s stylish (or over-styled) supermini crossover so I hope to grab a slice of the action.
The version I tested had a 1.6 litre diesel engine and a five-speed gearbox. Whether it could muster 91 or 99 hp never became clear to me. The version I tested had the handy reversing camera and the full glass roof plus a centre arm rest for the driver. The interior is very colour sensitive and the grey tones of the test car dampened the sculptural quality of much the interior trim. There really is no reason to Continue reading “Second Opinion: 2015 Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 diesel”
With apologies to anyone who expected something else when Googling the term “Wholly Toledo”. I just wanted an amusing play on words so I could make this fake magazine cover:
The Seat Toledo. How often does this name come up? Answer: not very much. Yet since 1991, SEAT have been selling something tagged as such. Right now it´s a quite conservatively styled medium-small car with the neat conceit of looking like a saloon but actually being a hatchback. Haven´t we heard this before?
Car advertising (like almost all advertising) commonly emphasises the new and the improved. There is not a single advert drawing attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle second lives of components intended for one car but which lived on in another…and another…and another…
Last week we discussed the afterlife of the Buick aluminium 215 engine. Such a re-use is not what I have in mind in terms of rooting around the parts bins. Rover had the decency to rework the engine –endlessly – to make it work so that by the time they had stopped fiddling in 2004 there was little a Buick engineer from 1957 might recognise other than the porosity problems and flagrant thirst.
The 11th generation of the Astra on its way. Autocar were allowed to test a disguised prototype and reported on the apparent changes in comparison with the outgoing car.
The next Astra is going to be smaller and lighter but roomier inside. I am a little anxious that the next car is going to be less pleasant to look at than the current car which I regard fondly, especially in bechromed estate guise. However, one compensation is that Opel intend the new Astra to dispel the lingering criticism that they are duller to drive than its arch enemy, the Ford Focus. How will they do this? Continue reading “The next Astra is already being tested”
A recent announcement by Aston Martin that it will go off road soon confirms that the ranks of aristo SUV´s are now filled, just about. Anything is now possible.
The Cadillac Escalade arrived first in 1999, an SUV from a marque known for limousines and stately sedans. Because Cadillac´s brand value lay in the ditch by then, nobody minded much: more kitsch, they said. However, it was an inspirational move from a brand that has often – though unintentionally – led the way. Lincoln dressed up a Ford pick-up to make it into the Blackwood in 2001 and got a three year run before really
We have been discussing design rationalism lately. A lot of my visual analyses have focussed on the main linear elements and graphics. This photo taken early in the morning captures a subtle, sculptural element on the VAG city car body.
Notice the shadow on the doors, to the rear of the shutline. This shows that the bodyside is gently curved outwards; it is most curved just under the window line and if you inspect the window sill by looking down the car, parallel to the centre line, it bows outwards. The curve fades away downward. The shape is reminiscent of the hull of a boat. The point I want to make is that you should Continue reading “Design Rationalism III”
An evening walk in central Copenhagen led to the discovery of this: a Chevrolet Impala.
I missed it as I walked within 5 metres of it but caught it as I walked back on the opposite side of the road. Chevrolet launched this version of the Impala in 2006 and it is still in production. It is based on the W-body which dates to 1986 though that platform has been revised a few times since then. It´s made in Canada and features a 3.5 litre V6 driving the front wheels. The grille is determinedly oblong, as characterless as a Fiat Croma II. I noticed Continue reading “Sightings: 2006 Chevrolet Impala”
I did some more rooting around for oddities from the Shanghai Auto Show. This is the Geely Emgrand GE, a rather shameless Rolls-Royce copy with a grille inspired by Buick. The headlamps curved shapes are not sitting happily there, are they?