By on August 22, 2019

Hyundai is bringing a retro-future concept vehicle to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Called the 45, the car appears to be an electrified hatchback and has the stated mission of helping the brand shape future EV designs. While we’ve only seen a single teaser image of the model thus far, we like where this is heading.

The automaker says the 45 was “inspired by looking back at the brand’s first model in the 1970s,” meaning the Ford Cortina is (and probably always was) off the table. The South Korean manufacturer is likely referencing the rear-drive Pony subcompact. It certainly appears to be the correct shape and the taillight location is similar enough for us not to rule it out. However, the total package seems to be more inspired by the DeLorean DMC-12 and 1980s concepts like the Citroën Karin or Ford Maya.  (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2019

 

After our last installment, I feel nothing but regret for misrepresenting butchering TTAC Commentator Arthur Dailey’s query.  Because people do get in their car to warm it up before beginning the process of rooftop snow removal. And they’d prefer to remove roof snow, not snow that fell into power window switch pods.

So after multiple emails, a promise to try again. To which Mr. Dailey’s reply was:

“OK.  But perhaps you could expand that to explain something related to car design?  Which is why I sent the question to your attention.”

(Read More…)

By on May 15, 2019

Before Smart goes all-electric next year, Daimler plans to offer “an exclusive and strictly limited special edition” model as a farewell to its combustion-engine vehicles. Designed by Konstantin Grcic, a man known for designing mass-manufactured minimalist furniture, the automaker says these limited-edition cars are for the “most ardent collectors only.”

Presumably, Daimler is referring to collectors in the general sense, as we’ve never heard of anyone with a devoted throng of Smart cars.

While it may sound like a bit of a turd, the company also said Brabus’ involvement was essential in developing the 21 models slated to roll off the assembly line in August of this year. That means more grunt and improved noises coming out of the back end — something we can all appreciate, be it in the bedroom or out on the open road.  (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2019

Last week, Kia teased a mystery concept bound for a Geneva Motor Show unveiling as a way to show off its consistently improving skills in automotive design. With a second batch of teaser photos cropping up on Thursday, it’s now abundantly clear the brand made no small effort to create a shining beacon of vehicular style. But it also happens to have more screens than the TSA, indicating that Kia willingly engaged in one of this year’s biggest concept car styling trends.

Truthfully, the display bandwagon probably left town in 2018 — about the time when Byton revealed a crossover at CES with a screen that literally replaced the entire dashboard, plus one mounted on the steering wheel for good measure. The company could be seen disappearing beyond the horizon, whipping its horses while other manufacturers attempted to catch up and climb aboard.

Now, Kia is holding the reins. And it’s laughing maniacally.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2019

Audi unveiled the PB 18 e-tron Concept at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with absolutely no assurance that it would ever be more than a fun idea. In fact, the company outright said it had no plans to put the vehicle into production. Miraculously, Audi flip-flopped, and the electrified hypercar is now slated for assembly.

You might hate it, but this is one of the few concept vehicles to ever make this author cream the proverbial jeans during office hours. Maybe it’s because I normally wait until the darkest point of the evening to unfurl my shame over a bottle of homemade wine and revisit vintage photo rolls of the Honda Unibox and Suzuki Regina — the latter of which was too good for this world.

However, whether or not Audi can successfully capture the magic of the PB 18 Concept remains to be seen. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2018

Saying the Tesla Model 3’s interior is polarizing would be a massive understatement. While some absolutely love the minimalist design and singular, tablet-like interface, others criticize it for being too barren to be considered interesting. The vehicle also saw some blowback over its centrally mounted 15-inch display, which, for several reasons, can serve as a potential distraction to drivers.

In fact, it’s so big that one Washington resident found himself pulled over by a motorcycle cop for having what was presumed to be a computer attached to his dashboard.  (Read More…)

By on September 4, 2018

Kia is readying the unveiling of its Proceed for European buyers later this month, taking great strides to ensure it matches the concept version. While the Ceed five-door already exists, the Proceed is a full-blown wagon. However, it’ll probably spend the majority of its time referred to as an “estate car” or “shooting brake,” since it’s not supposed to make it out of Europe. That’s slightly tragic, considering the model seems bent on showcasing Kia’s new emphasis on extra-handsome designs.

Kia revealed the Proceed Concept last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show to much praise from the media. The brand claimed it would foreshadow the future of the Ceed lineup’s styling, which bodes well, as the car looks like a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo and Nissan GT-R put up their bastard offspring for adoption in South Korea.  (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2018


Nissan may have discontinued the North American-market Juke earlier this year, but the model remains a popular item in the European market, dating back to its 2010 debut. There, its polarizing looks and role as an enjoyable to drive city car helped keep the model relevant.

As even the freshest of takes can get stale after seven years, the Juke is due for a redesign. But will Nissan change the formula to give the small crossover broader appeal, or will weirdness, once again, rule the day? Considering Americans no longer have to contend with its quirks, as we have the subcompact Kicks working as its replacement, there’s real no reason for the brand to pull any punches. Likewise, Nissan global design boss Alfonso Albaisa’s description of the second-generation model promises anything but an average automobile.  (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2018

Concept vehicles have been a bit of a snoozefest for enthusiasts lately. Despite the fact that automakers are still plenty capable of bringing out gorgeous designs, the autonomous angle has become so pervasive that it’s overridden the idea of having fun.

Then, during this week’s Monterey Car Week festivities, Audi dropped the PB 18 e-tron concept at Laguna Seca and fun slapped us across the face. This is the kind of car you have on your bedroom wall as a child and work your entire life to put into a garage as an adult.

With three electric motors (one driving the front axle and two out back) providing a combined output of 671 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque, the PB 18 should already be a menace. However, it can also temporarily bump itself up to 764 hp using stored energy via a kinetic energy recovery system. As a result, Audi claims the car is capable of a 0-to-62 mph rush in just over 2 seconds.

Combine that with an ultra-modern design that’s within the boundaries of what’s currently possible and several scoops of driver-focused tech, and you have one of best concept vehicles we’ve seen in years. The PB 18 expertly rides the line between fanciful and plausible. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2018

Last summer, Infiniti revealed an open-wheeled racer that merged the sex appeal of yesteryear with the electric powertrain of tomorrow. It was called the the Prototype 9 and it was stunningly beautiful. This summer, the brand attempted to repeat that success with the Prototype 10.

While the vintage maxim of “lightning never strikes the same place twice” isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s applicable here. Unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Prototype 10 is a rehash. It’s another reimagining of mid-century racing, bestowed with an electric motor and some modern flair.

It’s an incredibly handsome automobile, but unnecessary, as it’s representative of absolutely nothing. Infiniti isn’t planning on building single-seat race cars and doesn’t appear prepared to jump into the mass assembly of high-performance EVs. This has been a problem with Infiniti for a while now. The company embraces forward-looking and completely fantastical concept vehicles at the expense of something that might enter into production within a few years. Ultimately, it feels like a wasted effort.  (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2018

Porsche has grown rather chummy with the video game community of late. In 2017, the automaker used North America’s largest gaming expo as a platform for the debut of the 911 GT2 RS. You can attribute that to a relatively recent marketing push that resulted in its vehicles appearing in interactive media after a long-standing absence. Porsche, for whatever reason, spent years being exceptionally choosy about which developers can license its vehicles for their games. This usually results in blockbuster titles using “RUF” as a placeholder or simply abandoning Porsche vehicles entirely.

The last five or six years have been different, however. Automakers want to broaden their marketing approach and get away from the big industry trade shows. For Porsche, that means video games, and the relationship is only getting stronger.

This week, Porsche Epic Games and the graphical processing wizards at NVIDIA gathered to showcase what they claim is a major breakthrough in computer design rendering. While we can’t say with any authority that this will forever change automotive design, what they’ve managed to accomplish certainly looks impressive.  (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2018


Hyundai’s vice president of design, SangYup Lee, says the brand should be more than just a value nameplate and is setting his target extremely high. He thinks the company should be producing vehicles that are “sexier than Alfa Romeo.”

While we used a photo of a 2011 Hyundai Accent to head the article as a bit of a goof, the idea is only patently ridiculous if you don’t give it any serious thought. Hyundai’s designs have historically been a festival of mediocrity, but that’s not really the case anymore. The Korean brand has stepped up to meet is rivals and has even managed to surpass them in some respects.

Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo continues to impress enthusiasts but that has as much to do with its greatest hits as its does the modern cars. There’s still over dramatic, oddly attractive, and exceptionally fun — sort of like someone you dated during college but outgrew when you amassed enough self-respect to finally break it off. However, with the exception of the 4C, we’re not confident Alfa’s current lineup is their best visual work to date.  (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

We know you like to dog on supercars, and we’re right there with you. They’re extravagant toys for people you’re unlikely to encounter unless you were born into high society or made some exceptionally wise financial decisions. And that’s always lurking in the background whenever we discuss them. We drool over the specs as we gripe about their existence — riding the line between envy and disdain.

However, we’re still glad they’re here. Extreme performance machines show us what’s available at the outer limits of engineering and income. It’s also a great time to be the kind of person who loves mind-bending performance but hates supercars, as they’re becoming truly hideous.  (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2018

Thanks to an interested and better-financed populace, luxury purchases have been on the rise in China for the past decade. Chinese consumers currently drop around $7.6 billion per year on premium goods, accounting for almost a third of the global luxury market. This has resulted in a massive influx of high-end items and brands that want to capture the public’s attention and, more importantly, cash.

This includes automotive brands — all of which are desperate to expand into the Chinese market. But finding the correct approach is tricky. Plenty of fashionable brands attempted to incorporate authentic Chinese elements into their designs, but failed to do so in an elegant or convincing way. There’s a bit of a balancing act required. Market research shows younger consumers like clean designs and a little bit of bling, but don’t want these established brands catering too much to Chinese tastes. Older consumers, however, are willing to enjoy a little bit more ostentatiousness and adherence to tradition.

That’s one reason why you see so many new cars showing up at auto shows painted red. In China, red represents good fortune and crops up on significant items on important dates all the time. Wedding dresses are traditionally red, as are envelopes containing monetary gifts to commemorate the birth of a child or the new year.

However, we have to wonder if some brands aren’t going a little overboard. Mercedes-Maybach, which just released a hideous concept SUV intended to whet Chinese appetites, has followed up that eyebrow-raising effort with “the pinnacle of luxury living.” (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2018

marchionne, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The future is going to be absolutely terrible. Everything is going to be so sterile and automated that humans won’t have anything to do between mealtimes but eagerly anticipate their own death.

At least, that’s the picture being painted by experts. We’re probably further out from autonomous cars, world peace, and robotic butlers than society’s “thinkfluencers” want to admit, but be that as it may, the times are changing and some of this is coming down the pipe.

Automakers are all about the “nextification” of the industry; always promising technological marvels at an accelerated rate. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne now claims most visions of the future lack an essential element — any semblance of style. (Read More…)

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