Category: Design

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Land Rover Discovery - Image: Land RoverThe new 2018 Land Rover Discovery (née LR4) is not the automatically handsome successor to the Discovery 4 you assumed it would be.

The front end is visually softened. Viewed from the side, there’s enough bodywork between the windowline and wheelwell to empty the paint shop. The need to maintain a traditional Discovery shape was compromised in part by aero demands, and the result is flat rather than boxy. The C-pillar leaning far forward is more reminiscent of a Lexus RX than a Discovery Series I.

But it’s around the back where Land Rover’s own design boss, Gerry McGovern, has his own problem. “Overall, I like the design of the back of the Discovery for its asymmetry,” McGovern tells Auto Express, “because it’s tipping its hat to the Discoveries of the past.”

The problem then, Mr. McGovern? License plates. Yes. License plates. Read More >

By on September 17, 2017

2017 Toyota C-HR Turkey assembly plant

Toyota has been the brand par excellence in terms of quality and reliability for as far back as many of us can remember. But, as value became its hallmark, someone decided to turn the excitement volume down to a faint whisper — breaking the knob off entirely in the mid-2000s, when the MR-2 and Celica were discontinued. Even with the company’s introduction of the 86 in 2013, its mainstream designs were about as safe a play as one could make.

If you haven’t noticed (let’s face it, you have) Toyota’s styling has changed immensely of late. The automaker has a new attitude and affixed angry gaping maws onto the core brand and added folds to the bodywork we never would have anticipated.

This wasn’t an accident. Toyota is intentionally trying to push the envelope in terms of design and rattle a few cages along the way. Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Co., decreed that boring cars would be a thing of past and has given designers the means in which to accomplish that goal.  Read More >

By on September 14, 2017

Bangle butt, Image: Wikimedia

No car designer in recent history comes close to touching former BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle for controversy. For decades to come, auto scribes will pen articles looking back on his influence on BMW’s lineup, most of which will mention the “Bangle Butt” within the first 100 words.

Bangle’s 17-year tenure at the German automaker ended in 2009, after which he vacated the auto industry, started up a design firm bearing his name, and left his past products for the punditry to debate for all time. Well, Bangle is back, in a manner of speaking, and he’s working on a vehicle from an unlikely source.

He also spilled his guts at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The man known for avant-garde flourishes and risky design adventures claims “hyper-conservative, hyper-terrified” automakers are just re-toasting the same slice of bread. Read More >

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai

Getting a new or redesigned model off the drawing board and into showrooms isn’t like designing and posting a meme on Facebook. It’s time consuming, and automakers run the risk of being left behind as rivals cash in on the latest hot bodystyle or styling trend.

Hyundai knows this, having underestimated the buying public’s affection for anything with a high ride height and rear liftgate. The Korean automaker made a bundle on its well-fleshed-out car lineup following the recession, but the seismic shift towards SUVs and crossovers left it scrambling to bolster its three-vehicle utility lineup. The result? Stagnant sales.

This won’t happen under a new plan, the company’s senior vice president of design claims. Hyundai’s hitting the product throttle. Read More >

By on August 1, 2017

rusted truck interior old

You might not have noticed, but car interiors are growing increasingly more complex — not just in how they incorporate technology but also in the materials used. While the 1990s were awash in gray or beige plastics and upholstery, today’s vehicles source furnishings from a vastly broader palate.

Hyundai’s Ioniq is a prime example. In addition to using recycled plastics, it also uses bio-fabrics for the headliner and carpeting. Hyundai has also touted the use of sugarcane as a component for the interior’s soft-touch materials, while powdered wood and volcanic ash hides in harder surfaces.

OEMs are always trying to provide customers with something they can’t get elsewhere. More colors, different trim pieces, eco-friendly materials, and little embellishments that could be the deciding factor. Higher-trimmed vehicles from 2o years ago were primarily set apart by their upgraded mechanical components, adjustable seats, and superior electronics. With today’s vehicles already so well appointed, manufacturers are implementing custom stitching, chrome accents, and decorative lighting on a mass scale to inform occupants, “This is not a base model!”

It’s great news for consumers, but suppliers are scrambling to predict what automakers and their buyers will want next. Read More >

By on July 31, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry production line - Image: Toyota

Take a mental trip back to the late 1950s. Imagine, if you will, a Detroit Three dealer’s lot. Tailfins lifted themselves towards the heavens, slicing through the air in a bid to capture Sputnik 1. Conical headlight assemblies and bumper guards jutted from the chrome-laden fronts of America’s Interstate cruisers, virilely thrusting through the air as the country’s economic climb continued its dizzying ascent.

Sex was everywhere, just not on film. Well, for the most part. Images of Jayne Mansfield mingled with thoughts of powerful rockets and ICBMs in the minds of Detroit designers busily crafting the next jet-age car for nuclear families living in the Land of the Free. Let the Soviets have their gray, uninspired, designed-by-committee Commie runabouts.

While the need to draw eyes to new vehicles hasn’t faded from the automotive business model, the sources of inspiration have changed. It’s much more diverse (and far more PC) these days. While the latest crop of family sedans weren’t sculpted by designers with sex or weapons on the brain, you’d be surprised what object actually held sway over the final shape. Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

lamps20170724

We came up with a little design element identification game today, involving the four near-identical taillamps you see above. This collage is compiled from four different vehicles. Can you tell which is which?

Get your image search fingers ready.

Read More >

By on July 19, 2017

Joel Piaskowski - Image: FordFord Motor Company is reportedly creating a new position underneath Moray Callum, Ford’s vice president for design, for Ford of Europe design chief Joel Piaskowski.

Piaskowski, the head of design at Ford of Europe for the last three years, will become the global design head for cars and crossovers, according to Automotive News Europe. Read More >

By on June 20, 2017

2018 Kia Stonic, Image: Kia

After Hyundai dropped the curtain on its B-segment Kona crossover last week, corporate cousin Kia wasn’t far behind, pulling the wraps off its own new subcompact crossover earlier today.

The Stonic, which will go on sale in Europe in the third quarter of this year, rides atop the same platform as the Kona, but arguably wears it better. Sporting a more cohesive design, a sharp, contemporary face, and headlights in all the right places, the Stonic aims to gra Kia a slice of the growing subcompact utility vehicle market. In Europe, the segment is expected to grow to more than 10 percent of all new sales in just a few years.

That’s money Kia wants to take home to Korea. It’s not just overtaxed European buyers on Kia’s hit list, either; automakers are hurriedly adding missing CUVs to their North American lineups to boost sales and market share. Read More >

By on June 19, 2017

2018 Cadillac XTS, Image: General Motors

Thanks to China’s media, as well as General Motors’ aggressive pursuit of new buyers in that populous, prestige-seeking country, we’ve already seen the facelifted 2018 XTS sedan. The Chinese market model appeared a month ago, powered by a downsized motor you won’t find in U.S. variants.

Despite this, the refreshed XTS is now official. Cadillac has released details and photos of a model that wasn’t supposed to have a second act — until it realized you don’t drop a vehicle with steady sales, no matter how outdated it may appear. Say hello to Cadillac’s front-drive full-sizer, now gussied up to look like Cadillac’s rear-drive full-sizer. Read More >

By on June 15, 2017

2018 Lincoln MKC , Image: © 2017 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Carse

Lincoln’s littlest utility vehicle, the MKC, always risked being overshadowed by the larger offerings emanating from the resurgent luxury brand. That doesn’t mean it’s forgotten — either by the buying public or its builder.

The four-cylinder-only MKC went on sale in May 2014 as a 2015 model, heralding a new, decidedly non-Ford-like design direction for the brand’s utility vehicles. Sporting a toned-down version of the whale-like corporate split grille, the little utility was Lincoln’s first attempt to tap into the growing compact luxury CUV market. No longer was a Lincoln utility just a warmed-over Ford with a revised face and taillights.

Now that Lincoln’s moving away from the whale look, the 2018 MKC, judging by these spy photos, will follow the brand’s recent “Make like Continental!” design philosophy. Read More >

By on June 13, 2017

2018 Honda Fit Sport, Image: Honda North America

Hold on, you say. That’s just the same old Honda Fit. Wrong. You’re not looking close enough.

While the mid-cycle refresh of Honda’s diminutive-yet-roomy subcompact hatch retains much of the previous Fit’s design hallmarks, the automaker has seen…fit…to make the model more noticeable.

The third-generation Fit bowed in 2014 as a 2015 model year vehicle, offering a single powerplant and two efficient transmissions for not much money less than the larger Civic. Now that Honda’s compact sedan looks gigantic in comparison to its predecessors, the Fit can more comfortably occupy the subcompact segment. Read More >

By on June 8, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA, Image: Subaru of America

It’s a lot of letters, but not a lot of extra horsepower. That’s the synopsis of two limited edition performance models revealed by Subaru today.

We already knew both were on the way, and indeed the models seem well equipped to trounce the handling dynamics of their regular-production stablemates. The appearance, too. Festooned with every measure available to enhance downforce, braking, body stability, and traction, the 2018 WRX STI Type RA (“Record Attempt”) and BRZ tS are instant collector’s items for Subaru superfans.

Is there more power to be had? Are both the revamped WRX and BRZ faster than their corporate siblings? Short answer: yes, and…maybe? Read More >

By on June 7, 2017

Kia Stonic, Image: Kia Motors

Few automakers can afford to sit on the sidelines while rivals do battle in the growing subcompact crossover segment, and Kia sure isn’t one of them. Back in January, a trademark filing revealed Kia was developing a vehicle bearing an odd name — Stonic — which many rightly guessed would become the brand’s newest crossover. Well, that mystery vehicle is no longer a mystery.

The automaker has released concept sketches of its upcoming subcompact crossover, a high-beltline, low-roof runabout with wheels tailor-made for pelting stones off its sickly off-gold paint. Read More >

By on May 27, 2017

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t talking about future products, so all we’re left with is some drawings from a design patent and an undecided jury. Still, the images are intriguing, as they show a seven-seat utility vehicle a vaguely familiar face.

Jeep’s mystery vehicle could be one of two planned models, one of which could make FCA big bucks in the United States. At least, once it figures out how to build the thing. Read More >

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