Mazda Reveals a Treasure Trove of MX-5 Miata Design History, Shows How We Got the Fourth-gen ND Miata

The end result is tasty. Maybe the narrow headlamps are sliced too thinly; the hood cut line that intersects with the housing too obvious. Perhaps the rear end could use a bit more breadth. The wheels still appear a bit small from some angles.

But the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata — known in Mazda circles as the ND, succeeding the NA, NB, and NC — is generally regarded as an eye-catching, modern, successful evolution of the venerable Mazda sports car.

How did Mazda arrive at the end result? What led Mazda to settle on the final production version? Which styling direction was rejected?

In a fit of transparency, Mazda’s PR department has released the entire background of the process, including 140 photos detailing the evolution of what would become the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5.

Read more
Land Rover Will Stick an SUV in Whatever Part of Its Lineup It Wants and Price It Based on "Personality"

It’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief.

Read more
Ssangyong's Next Rexton SUV Will Be Designed by Pininfarina - Hey, Remember the Ssangyong Rodius?

On one end of the spectrum, there’s the Ssangyong Rodius, which actually isn’t as catastrophically designed in its second-generation form as it was from 2004 to 2013.

On the other, there’s the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Pininfarina.

Somewhere in between will be the next edition of Ssangyong’s large Rexton SUV, due in the early part of the next decade and styled by one of the world’s foremost design houses.

Bentley Bentayga, BMW X4, Lexus LX570? Get in line. The Ssangyong Rexton has secured Pininfarina’s services already.

Read more
Hyundai Acknowledges Seventh-Generation 2015-2017 Sonata "Didn't Turn Heads"

After the forgotten third-generation car, the odd and bulbous fourth-generation car, and the dull fifth-generation car, the sixth Hyundai Sonata was unveiled at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was surprising, even shocking, that Hyundai so dramatically transformed its staid midsize car into a radical “fluidic sculpture” sedan.

In the United States, after averaging 132,000 sales over the previous half-decade, the Hyundai Sonata exploded. By 2012, Hyundai sold more than 230,000 copies, and the Sonata averaged 215,000 U.S. sales between 2010 and 2014, a 63-percent increase compared with the previous half-decade average.

The momentum was not sustained. The seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata debuted in the United States at 2014’s New York International Auto Show. Where did the fun go? Where was the drama, the cat-like headlamps, the desire to stand out from the pack?

“We went from a very striking design, to a very beautiful car, but it just didn’t turn heads like the car before it did,” Hyundai Motor America’s vice president of product planning, Mike O’Brien, tells Automotive News.

Read more
2018 Honda Accord Designer: "Accord Is an American Car"

The 2018 Honda Accord will be assembled in Marysville, Ohio. The overwhelming majority of its sales will occur in the United States of America. Its dimensions, inside and out, suit the U.S. market. In 2016, the Accord ranked second on Cars.com’s American-Made Index.

Open its trunk and a family of bald eagles fly out, having successfully incubated apple pies, having binge-watched every season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. There’s a subtle Statue of Liberty easter egg on the windshield, Hollywood signs engraved in its cupholders, and a 3D hologram of Mount Rushmore featuring a fifth character — Soichiro Honda — that emerges from the glovebox if you shift the manual transmission into sixth, say VTEC three times, and spit over your left shoulder.

The Accord, according to lead exterior designer Tetsuji Morikawa, “is an American car.”

To make sure of that, however, Morikawa said the design team, “wanted to feel like Americans.” And they wanted to finish their design of the 10th-generation Accord in the United States, not Japan.

Read more
Light Entertainment: Can You Identify These Vehicles With Near-identical Taillights?

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
Hyundai Kona Previews Future Designs, But Don't Expect Russian Dolls

“Each model will have its own identity.” – Luc Donckerwolke,
senior vice president, head of Hyundai Motor Design Center

Finally, long after the Nissan Juke, Subaru Crosstrek, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3, Hyundai is ready to launch the Kona subcompact crossover, at least in moderate volumes.

The Hyundai Kona is hardly a Tucson Lite; not remotely an Accent Allroad. An unusual face and bizarre use of cladding are all the more obvious because of the Kona’s tidy dimensions.

But while the 2018 Kona showcases a new Hyundai utility vehicle design language, Hyundai’s design leadership promises that future models won’t merely be enlargements of the same.

Read more
Report: New Head of Ford Car and Crossover Design Is Michigander Joel Piaskowski

Ford 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
One Look Shouldn't Fit All Sizes: Jaguar Design Boss Plans to Help Buyers Tell Models Apart

Fortunately, premium automakers have not adopted a One Size Fits All approach. We have choices. Plenty of choices.

Increasingly, however, we are seeing a One Look Fits All Sizes methodology, limiting our ability to distinguish between a 3 Series, 5 Series, and 7 Series at BMW; between A4s, A6s, and A8s at Audi; or between C, E, and S-Class sedans at Mercedes-Benz.

With the second-generation XF appearing all but identical to the first XF, and the subsequent launch of the entry-level XE closely resembling an abbreviated XF, Jaguar’s guilty of the same crime against differentiation.

Fortunately, famed Jaguar design director Ian Callum says future Jaguar designs won’t be revealed merely as S, M, and L versions of the same t-shirt.

Read more
Vellum Venom: 2017 Toyota Camry XLE
The common road-going distraction of DLO FAIL sometimes forces a discussion with my best friend from the car design world. While the raison d’etre for the series sadly left us over a decade ago, some cars take me back to our time together, as if his spirit never left. If you’ve experienced a similar loss, just know your lingering sorrows are not a burden you must bear alone. Put your brand of Venom on your personal Vellum — there’s plenty of room on the Internet for you.
Read more
BMW Group Hires Oliver Heilmer As New Boss Of Mini Design - It's About Time

In Oliver Heilmer, BMW Group’s Mini brand will finally have a design chief after being rudderless for much of the last year.

Anders Warming, Heilmer’s predecessor, resigned the post last summer. The 42-year-old Heilmer, who makes his way up the corporate ladder from BMW Designworks in California, won’t actually undertake his new role until September.

“With his design expertise and experience, Oliver Heilmer combines continuity with the freshness and vision Mini stands for,” Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, said in BMW’s official statement. In other words, Heilmer is both an insider, as part of BMW Group Design for 17 years, but also an outsider, as the BMW Designworks boss who previously held a post in interior design at the BMW brand.

Regardless, Heilmer has his work cut out for him. In the hugely important U.S. market, Mini sales in 2016 fell to a six-year low, and sales are declining further in 2017.

Read more
Vellum Venom Vignette: Flattened Fenders and Air Curtains

Mike writes:

Sajeev,

I have noticed something on newer cars, and it’s been bothering me for awhile now. Perhaps you, with your deity-like omniscience (and access to inside information) will be able to provide some clarity.

As you can see from the picture below, a new Toyota has this vertical flat area around the wheels. And it’s not just this particular model of car — nearly every modern car I see on the road today has a similar design feature, though they vary in the width of the flat area around the wheel arch. Contrast this the Clinton-era Toyo at the bottom, where the body lines follow a graceful curve all the way to the fender opening.

Read more
The Pretty New Porsche Panamera Is Already Way More Popular Than the Ugly Old Porsche Panamera Ever Was

The first second-generation Porsche Panamera I ever spotted was missing its front end. It was still distinctly more attractive than the first-generation Porsche Panamera ever was.

My house is near the CN Autoport in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Dozens of stevedores drive mostly European-built new vehicles off Wallenius Wilhelmsen ships to parking lots near a main road, incidentally known as Main Road. Typically, if I time my drives past just right, I see long lines of new cars, such as the British-built Honda Civic Hatchback or the Volvo V90, weeks before a single one arrives at your local dealer.

Ever so slightly closer to my home than the Autoport itself is a smaller building where the damaged vehicles go. Today, there’s a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, sans rear bumper, parked outside. A few months ago, mere seconds before feasting my eyes upon a line of second-gen Porsche Panameras, I saw the aforementioned damaged Panamera. “Maaaaaan, that car is pretty.”

And then I remembered the old Panamera, vomiting a bit in my throat at the thought. And then I saw Porsche’s April 2017 U.S. sales figures. Scroll down, scroll down, there it is: Panamera. 1,098 sales.

Double its typical monthly output. 26-percent better than its previous best. Triple April 2016’s volume.

And proof people prefer pretty.

Read more
First 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Design Sucked So Bad That Mark Reuss Has Vowed You'll Never See It

After a long eight-year run for the second-generation Chevrolet Equinox, General Motors finally dropped the third-generation 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in September 2016. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox might not be your cup of tea — I like the look, and the diesel option — but we learned late last month that it could have been downright awful.

How bad was it? It looked too bulky, too odd, too underwhelming, according to focus groups. The Equinox’s chief engineer, Mark Cieslak, said, “What we have on paper we felt was not going to win.”

So GM went back to the drawing board.

But seriously, how bad was it? We want to know, as does Autoweek, which tweeted last Saturday, “We really want to see what the abandoned version looked like.”

GM’s executive vice president for global product development, the Twitter-affable Mark Reuss, responded just 10 minutes later. And, uh, my guess is they really don’t want us to see the first third-gen Equinox.

Read more
Vellum Venom: 2017 North American International Auto Show (Part I)
Car shows take Vellum Venom down a psychotropic styling journey: elaborate displays with brilliant interior design elements, dazzling lighting, stunning product specialists (if you’re into that gawking thing), free top-shelf crap everywhere and perfect machinery refreshed by an army of detailers. Many years passed since my last auto show, but I had to come back to get the latest bits of car design. And interior design. And architecture.Those three in mind, the Hyundai section was a remarkable letdown: the architecture brilliantly absorbed Cobo Center’s impressive amounts of negative area, marred by the mediocrity of a bland-toned Accent occupying prime real estate. Why ruin my Architectural-Digest worthy photograph?
Read more
  • Cleve Palmer 10 days ago my 2021 Limited Eco Diesel, almost caused me to collide with other veicles as I tried to get to the side of the road as the veicle lost power, engine shut down with no warning, other that sputtering.Vehicle Just turned 13,500 miles. Dealer says Fuel pump failed, metal debris in Fuel System, Oil not yet checked for metal fragmants. Says parts unavailable, could take 2 months to get, only 1.5 days to repair. How can they do a recall with no parts?
  • NormSV650 Everyone is partnering to make batteries in North America today, except the Japanese.
  • Arthur Dailey "A massive chrome bumper" listed on the brochure/ad as a selling/design feature. How I miss 1970s auto design.
  • Master Baiter Taycan a massive success?
  • Robert Levins I love the Stutz lavish luxury designs but this one has a tough time blending “Squared” off 1980’s roof line with previous decades of beautiful sweeping fenders, hoods, and deck lids. I do like this one for what it is, I admire it. I can see this model doing well with the big oil Saudis and such. If I had a lot money and wanted a”Stutz” car I would most likely not be buying this one.