Posts By: Andrei Avarvarii

By on August 29, 2008

Watch out for Capt AhabLincoln's version of the Flex, AKA MKT, has been green-lighted for production. The all-in-one utility-sports-comfort-performance-style (at least that's how the officials are selling it so far) vehicle has already been spotted in tests and is expected on sale as a 2010 model (of course). As far as we can see from the spyshots, the production MKT will have similar proportions to the concept car. In detail though, the changes are significant. Most of the cool showcar elements are gone: the huge wheels, the high-tech lights, the tiny mirrors, the small air intakes in the front spoiler (those couldn't possibly feed a full-size radiator). Gone is also the crease on the front door, but don't get upset, you now have real door handles, screen wipers, and decent-sized windows. But– is it just me or does this car seem a little late?

By on August 26, 2008

Dealer markups coming soonAfter squeezing all the history out of the SLR name (with the 722 and the Speedster, see the photochop from August 11) MB is set to revive another legendary, even mythical, nameplate: the Gullwing. While it may not have the same magic (and occasional widow-making proclivity) of the original, it runs the risk of being a little too high tech for its own good character. What I’ve done with this image, rather than design a futuristic – and fantasy – car, is to extrapolate heavily from the spy shots we’ve seen of the Gullwing test cars. That means ungainly bits and all, but then not every recent Benz has been a museum piece. The fascia of the test mule reminded me of the second-gen SL and inspired me to test out its application on the rendering, whereas the typical Benz side gills and door handles are all but guaranteed.

By on August 22, 2008

F60Five years have passed since Ferrari introduced the Enzo. I bet that in two or three years we'll get to see (at least in posters) another prancing horse wonder produced in three hundred-something examples. I took the liberty of rendering for you my impression on the subject, keeping in mind what the F60 should be: an uncompromising supercar filled with the latest F1 technology from the Scuderia. One good thing about such a car is that it can even use technologies that are not allowed in F1, such as auto-adjusting aerodynamics. (The Enzo was the first Ferrari to use a self-adjusting rear wing.) We can assume that the F60 could feature electronically adjustable front spoilers and variable capacity air intakes to finely tune Cx vs. downforce vs. air cooling depending on needs. The design path I've chosen makes subtle references to the F40 and to the F50, adding a drop of Italian fragrance from the next decade. My excitement and enthusiasm regarding this chop are toned down by the sad thought that this car will no longer be designed under the supervision of Andrea Pininfarina. May he rest in peace!

By on August 18, 2008

Super AstonI guess most of you have seen www.one-77.com by now, the teaser web-site for the next Aston Martin supercar. I was so impressed I bought the company! No, seriously, although dark and mysterious, AM's design sketch reveals lots of details. The most visible and surprising element of the design: the shape of the side vents. They remind me of the Corvette C5 concept. Some could find them as an evolution of the air exhausts found on the DBR5 (but not until they had a couple of beers). The one-77's front spoiler is also new. It shows two ascending creases that melt into the front lights. The peepers show an angular design with new optical elements. We can't tell from the Aston teaser sketch, but I bet the traditional grille will stay in place. A discrete lower intake completes the front styling in an elegant manner. Although it's designed as an extreme supercar, the one-77 looks a lot more subtle than the DBS. Only the four vents placed on the hood indicate that a beast needing lots of air is caged within. Sometimes I am ashamed that I get paid for having so much fun. [ED: at these prices, don't be] I thoroughly enjoyed my virtual business trip to the land of fetishistic elegance.

[Read Justin's review of the AM Vantage on Wednesday.] 

By on August 15, 2008

The one to beat?As far as we can tell from the carparazzi shots, the production Beat's proportions will be similar to those of the show-car; with two rear doors. In detail, the car will be a lot different. You can tell most of the differences only by looking at the original green concept Beat. The Transformers-like spoiler of the concept is clearly not destined for the production car. The vehicle in the spyshots shows a boring lower grill with horizontal and vertical stripes. I tried to make it cool looking, but that thing would only work for a retro design. The only elements I can identify as being interesting and modern on the camouflaged car are the lights. They seem to follow the dynamic shape seen on the green prototype with a nice mix of optical elements. Whether this will Beat or get beaten is hard to tell; the competition in Europe's micro-car class is really heating-up.

By on August 11, 2008

Paris Hilton probably has her checkbook out alreadyThere's a lot of buzz around the web about the new Mercedes McLaren SLR Speedster. While some may not consider the model photochop-worthy (it's just another version of the lame duck SLR), fans of the brands have shown a real interest in the open-cockpit vehicle. I rendered this chop after analyzing the photos of the camouflaged test vehicles. The image shows dual front lights (same as the rest of the SLR family); the other lamps present on the test cars are there only to confuse onlookers. The side line with strong shoulders and arched rear fenders are completely new to this car. It will definitely feature two wind deflectors to add some aerodynamic comfort. Other details– like the shape of the doors and the front spoiler– can also be divined through the test car camouflage. We'll have to wait and see if it'll become a collectible item for those who remember the days of Stirling Moss, or just so 'mo bling-bling for those who listen to themselves on the hip-hop station.

[More of Andrei's photochoppistry at avavarii.com ]

By on August 8, 2008

Courtesy avavarii.comAnd here it is [maybe]: Chevrolet's plug-in electric – gas hybrid Volt. Weʼve admired (more or less) the widely-touted concept and glimpsed the camouflaged 1/3 model. Iʼve photchopped my personal guess for the finished model, based on Bob Lutz' contention that the production version will still be recognizable as the Volt. The small cabin silhouette is clearly not making it into production (as we've seen on the scale model). However, the doors' transparent upper sides are a Volt-specific design element; I think they could make it out of concept stage to act as a visual trade-mark. They're not all that useful, but they give the Volt a suitably high-tech appearance. Some mechanical components like the door-locking mechanism or the window crane could be seen through that glass; eye candy for kids and first-time car-thieves. I kept the glass-roof, but I doubt it will be standard equipment. Some high-tech lights (but not as fancy as those seen on the concept) should differentiate the Volt from the rest of the Chevys. The result isn't beautiful, but then, neither is the Toyota Prius.

[More of Andrei's photochoppistry at avavarii.com ]

By on August 4, 2008

Build a better mouse and the world will beat a path to your door?There's one good thing about a crisis: it motivates people to create remarkable things that wouldn't have been possible (or necessary) in normal (or desired) circumstances. Remember: an oil crisis gave birth to the original Mini, a remarkable piece of engineering with incredible efficiency. Now that the days of efficiency are back, the car industry has once again been forced to awaken from its boringly predictable evolution and offer us some new efficient and smart solutions. The first signs have already been visible for a few years, with manufacturers showing a plethora of microcar concepts. Some producers even have such projects in advanced development. As spy photographs show, Fiat is currently testing a car smaller than the 500. At 3.2 meters the new Topolino ("little mouse" in Italian, named after the original model produced between 1936 and 1955) is expected to use the same 3+1 seats solution as the Toyota iQ concept (the rear bench is divided into a normal-sized and a smaller chair, placed right between the rear wheels at the very back of the car). With both rear seats in use, the car has virtually no trunk space. But fold the rear bench and now you got room for… a suitcase or two. Anyway, it's a remarkable achievement that could rival the original Mini. From a design POV, this layout doesn't allow for a sloped roof. I reckon a boxy rear will be the recognition element for all the 3+1 cars.

[For more of AA's photochopistry, click on www.avarvarii.com]
By on August 1, 2008

 Which vehicle is not cheap, not particularly roomy or comfortable, but can go round a bend like no other hatch?! It's the only car in its class with a classic layout, the BMW 1-Series. It has been accused of completely sacrificing comfort and practicality, yet it produces Joker-like grins on the track. It could have been front wheel driven with a transverse engine and a big ass to accommodate five plus luggage, but don't we already have enough of those? Yes, it's true it's priced closely to the 3-Series but offers less. However, if you are young and naive things look a little different. It's a "lifestyle" vehicle, and a successful one so far. That's why I think the next gen 1-Series will stick to the same philosophy: compact enough to be useful in the city, Bimmer dynamics, and expensive enough to make a wealth statement. Design-wise I'm bet on a more aggressive stance featuring the new BMW uber-grille, LED lights and flame-surfacing creases.

[For more of AA's photochopistry, click on www.avarvarii.com]

By on July 28, 2008

VW will do the ECOnomy versionLast Friday we took a look at the future Audi R4. I told you how VAG plans to cook several dishes with the same ingredients. The house special will be served by VW, which already teased us with several appetizers (see: Concept R and the EcoRacer). The production VW MR should be situated somewhere between the two concept cars. The R was an aesthetic study that previewed the new VW stylistic approach for the beginning of this decade, while the EcoRacer was more engineered than designed (its looks seem to have been compromised for efficiency). With Audi assembling the sports-luxury version of the car, and SEAT going for the sports-latino market share, we can imagine that VeeDub will get the eco-model. That is, of course, if they don't throw in an MR Skoda as well. We won't mention the Boxster/Cayman because the situation is already too complicated. Long story short: expect a VAG mid-engine sports car for every taste and wallet with the VW model, depicted here, being the most affordable both to buy and run.

By on July 25, 2008

Half an R8 is better than noneImagine you have a twin brother (or sister) and you both have a mad need for an Audi R8, but finances only for one car. What to do? How to share? Well, no worries. Audi's considered that possibility and decided to cut their R8 in half. Yes, you've read correctly. They will just divide some R8s by two and start selling little R4s. Number of cylinders, power figures and prices will follow the same simple scheme: R8 ÷ 2. Of course Audi isn't producing motorcycles yet, so each R4 will have four wheels, two chairs, etc. But it'll a little bit smaller than the R8. And to show just how confident they are with their R8 halves, they'll make them compete against entire cars, like the Porsche Cayman/Boxster or the Lotus Elise. Design-wise expect the initial coolness of the R8 but reduced by a half for the R4 in an attempt to avoiding cannibalism. Still, I bet we'll be seeing a lot of that as VAG wants to produce a Seat and a VW on the same platform. Some even say that the new VAG "sponsor" would like to develop the future Cayman/Boxster pair on the same platform. They should just offer interchangeable brand logos; that way you could change your car according to mood.

By on July 21, 2008

A little more Porsche, a little less TouraregRecent carparazzi spy shots reveal that Porsche is hard at work on the next generation Cayenne. Apparently, the German manufacturer is speeding-up the design process to catch what's left of the sport truck's declining market share– before Euro-regs and CAFE clampdowns strangle the fuel-sucking SUV's sales. To death. From the spy shots, it looks like the Cayenne Mk II will not increase in size. We can even imagine a little downsizing (doubly true for the mechanicals, as 500bhp-plus turbocharged engines are not the done thing in Brussels). A hybrid system is way more fashionable (it not actually effective). Will Porsche have to ditch robust off-road mechanicals for mpgs? No se. As for the Cayenne's design, I'm hoping for a more muscular and elegant version. Then again, who isn't? I'd also like to see Porsche work around the traditional round lights. Those just scream: "Porsche." For the rest, one piece of advice: keep it simple. No uber-grilles or uber-spoilers. Leave that to the tuners.

By on July 18, 2008

Awwww. (avavarii.com)Thanks to fierce competition, new technology and good old-fashioned hubris, luxury brands are continuing their relentless pursuit of lower-priced brand extensions (a.k.a. "affordable luxury"). It's a tricky transition that can degrade brand values and lead to some mutant machines [see: MB and their (un)Smart move.] Incrementalism seems to be the way Fordward. Mercedes' A and B Class, for example are [almost] accepted as genuine Stuttgart pure breed. In their latest attempt to conquer the world, the German engineers (and designers) are now set to expand the MB compact-class line-up. Among the new omers expect an entry-level convertible to go head-to-head with Audi's A3. The next CLK gets the folding hard-top, so this… thing is keeps the lid simple (i.e. inexpensive). Needless to say, the German effort to make a cheap cabriolet will no doubt face a Korean effort to make a luxury convertible. Strange times.

[For more of AA's photochopistry, click on www.avarvarii.com

By on July 14, 2008

So when can we get it?The four-door coupe niche is really catching on. After VW's entry into the chop-top genre, Ford is set to present an [almost] low-cost version of the "eye candy sedan." Naturally, I'd like it to be what the current Mondeo could have been when I first saw the Iosis concept. And I expect it to be what the current Mondeo isn't: exciting. I was extremely disappointed when FoMoCo released the Mondeo sedan. Why would they say they were going to base the four-door's design on that stunning concept and then… you know? The only cool thing about Mondeo is that Bond drove it for a while. Actually it wasn't that cool; looking back at the scenes, it was kind of boring. Anyway, back to the four-door coupe: four individual seats, frame-less doors, high-tech lights (but not Iosis-droopy) and some genuine sex-appeal. Done.

By on July 11, 2008

The next Acura?Honda got out of the supercar game when they discontinued the NSX in 2005. However, spyshots and gossip indicate they're about to get reenter the fray. By 2010, HoMoCo's supposed to show us another "New Sports eXperiment." Unfortunately (or not) the newcomer will no longer be mid-engined (I guess they learned that's "sacred territory"). Instead, the engineers will opt for the "GT approach," aiming their range-topper at the Lexus LF-A, Nissan GT-R, and (with some luck) European GTs. Camouflaged test vehicles show a sharp nose and dynamic side-line. The whole assembly reminds me in silhouette and proportions of the LF-A. I can say the same for the NA V10 engine. Let's just hope it doesn't turn out to be another "Not So eXotic". 

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