Car Design Research Insight - Quarter One 2013

Offering an objective design assessment for clients such as Toyota, Mercedes, Pininfarina, Yamaha, and Hyundai, the experienced team at Car Design Research have reported their latest findings for trends in the automotive world. Here's a snapshot.

Designing for export

In small car segments downsizing is the current trend du jour, but in their latest generations, cars like the Range Rover, Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche 911 are the largest they’ve ever been.

Their original designs were the result of quite locally specific requirements. Seeing over the hedgerows of an English country lane, taking all the family to the Riviera, enjoying the Black Forest’s switchbacks. But their purposes have changed. Bought in greater numbers by customers in faraway markets, they are now explicitly designing for export.

Marginally larger than the car that went before, the new Range Rover’s growth expressly benefits rear seat space. Thank the growing chauffeur market and customers in China and India, who increasingly want to drive themselves but still require a large rear seat space to show respect and provide comfort to their clients, family and friends who will ride in the rear.

Much the same is true of the new Maserati Quattroporte (above), whose wheelbase grows substantially over the previous version. Again, rear seat passengers benefit, and as Fiat group seeks to grow Maserati’s operation, it knows the key markets to do this in will be those where rear seat space is prioritised and valued.

The new Porsche 911 has grown into more of a full GT – one that arguably now looks and feels more at home on California’s wide boulevards than it does in Stuttgart’s city centre.

The not-so-mini Mini Countryman has shown the breadth of the Mini brand. But the coupe-cum-crossover Paceman, derived from its SUV sister, continues that car’s trend in feeling like a car with an entirely different remit to Issigonis’s original, and the tight British city streets its reputation was built in.

Matte mash-ups

Tuning culture continues to wield an influence on mainstream automotive design, illustrated by the latest trend for matte paint mash-ups. Matte finishes hark back to the 1920s hot-rod culture and have more recently become a premium option OEM paint option – applied at the factory rather than after market.

The latest series of vehicles, however, to feature matte paint finishes do so in new, novel and altogether more subtle ways.

The latest models feature matte finishes on specifically chosen panels, often breaking up the continuous, singular paint colour finish of the car. Conceptually, we’ve seen such an idea before - in the form of the somewhat unpopular Polo Harlequin (below). The latest application of mattes is rather more sophisticated, however.

Hyundai’s Veloster C3 Rolltop concept is perhaps the most sophisticated approach yet. With its ‘fixie’ bike stacked into the rear load bay, the Veloster mixes a mint green rear wheel to key with the bike, recycled skateboard on the trunk floor, and matte-finish front wheel, grille, mirror housing and roof decals for what we’d term a ‘fixie mash-up’ look.

The Renault D-Cross (a concept for a South American market B-segment SUV) shares many of its panels with the Dacia Duster. However, the use of a matte black wrap around, aft of the C-pillar, has the effect of visually separating the two cars and gives the D-Cross a personality of its own - one that feels well suited to a utilitarian SUV.

The latest derivative of Chevrolet’s Camaro, the 1LE, tops the range in terms of performance and is differentiated from lesser models in the range by its matte-black hood. Historically the matte black hood has been a muscle-car feature, but this is the first time it’s featured as a factory option on the latest generation Camaro.

CDR Insight - Quarter Three 2012

Have you noticed? Stuff that caught our eye this month -

CDR associate and independent designer, Satoshi Wada, joins an illustrious cast of car designers who have turned their hands to horology, with this design for Issey Miyake.

Google may have been using their Priuses for their own self-driving car research, but it seems Toyota’s been working on the technology themselves. At this week’s CES in Las Vegas, Toyota unveiled a Lexus that can drive itself and looks set to be joined by Audi as the race to lead in autonomous vehicles begins in earnest.

Product designers Bertille & Mathieu have recently presented “VentrU” - a cast iron radiator with a hollow centre for warming towels and accessories.

Jose Carlos Cruz Arquitecto’s pharmacy in Villa Real, Portugal, uses large lighting graphics at night, to illuminate the facade, making the building’s purpose completely unmistakable.

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