New Jaguar XF

Jaguar launched their new/refreshed XF earlier this week, with a stunt that I accidentally witnessed from the breakfast bar of a hotel I was staying in. I almost choked on my eggs..a series of cables stretched across the Thames with the car slowly being pulled from one side to the other. Really slowly, as in 10 minutes. IMG_5280

I’m assuming, as there weren’t any obvious crowds, that this wasn’t a launch event, but will form part of a TV campaign.

IMG_5277Here’s what’s being suspended 30ft above the Thames;

Jaguar-XF_2016_800x600_wallpaper_08 Jaguar-XF_2016_800x600_wallpaper_05

Link to video

Aston-Martin Lagonda redux

As a kid growing up in the 80’s the Aston-Martin Lagonda was an exotic curiosity. Outrageous edges, disjointed proportions, and a space-age interior..it was like a strange vision of the future, a future that involved digital instruments.

aston_martin_lagonda_series_2

Which seemed perfectly reasonable in an age of Austin Maestros with speech synthesisers.

Fast forward to now and Aston-Martin have launched the new Lagonda, called Taraff strangely enough. An interesting approach; they’ve decided to pay homage to the original cars’ silhouette, but with a far more refined, developed design language.

Aston_Martin-Lagonda_Taraf_2015_800x600_wallpaper_01

And there are some stunning and imposing views.

Aston_Martin-Lagonda_Taraf_2015_800x600_wallpaper_03

The grille blending into the headlights is incredibly well-resolved. The car hides its length well, as this is a 5.3m long car, with some neat touches. The front and rear fascia panels are slim, as on the original car.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 19.14.14 copy

The front wheel arch is pulled tight over the wheel, skimming lbs off the visual weight…

Aston_Martin-Lagonda_Taraf_2015_800x600_wallpaper_02

And there’s a trick C-pillar crease that is really showing-off the fact that the panels are carbon-fibre – something almost impossible to do using conventional steel and stamping techniques.

So although it’s a car that clearly tips its hat to it’s ancestor it looks perfectly contemporary. Where it’s let down is inside. It’s a shame that Aston played it safe in here, bearing in mind the original Lagonda’s madness, but then perhaps they learned a lesson from the original car. The real missed opportunity though is that AM didn’t create a new minimal architecture for the interior. It’s essentially the same interior is in every other Aston-Martin of the last 5 years…

lagonda_06

…a slim Instrument panel, minimal analog interface, perhaps a beautiful steering wheel and gearshift could have really made the Lagonda the ultimate bespoke sporting limo. It’s clear that even with an incredibly high-end product like this there are cost-constraints, shared components. But I just wish Aston Martin had at least tried to reference the crazy innovation of the original interior.

Picture 6

Tech for tech’s sake?

JLR recently showed off their 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen pillar-projection system; a high-tech solution to the age-old problem of not being able to see through the A and B pillars. jlr-urbanwindscreen-followmeghostcar-and-transparent-pillars-1 It uses cameras mounted on the pillars to feed images through 2 projectors located around the rear-view mirror, which are projected on to each pillar surface. I’ll probably get some flack for this, but…from a design perspective this is a classic case of using technology to plaster over the real issue. It’s a sticking plaster over the existing architecture of a car. The real innovation is to use advanced materials and clever design and engineering to build an A-pillar that the driver and passenger can see through. Like Kia’s Stinger concept.. kia-gt4-stinger-concept-interior-photo-572963-s-1280x782 Or Volvo’s SCC concept.. scc06 These weren’t simple solutions; each would require costly safety development and homologation, and perhaps there’s a user perception that being able to see through a pillar makes it somehow weaker than a ‘real’ metal pillar. But they were innovative; they moved the game on, they offered new design implications. It’s indicative of a trend that sees relatively low-cost technology over-riding real design solutions. Case in point; Tesla’s tablet-like interface on the Model S. 2012-tesla-model-s-interior-photo-462046-s-1280x782 Interior design has been nudged aside by the ‘innovation’ of having a large flat touch-screen. The thinking seems to be that the functions of the screen are so important that it should take priority over a well thought-out and intuitive interior HMI. I don’t belive that this will be how car interiors will develop; Design strategy will ensure that unique solutions will be required to keep each brands DNA intact. It’s the digital vs analogue argument; the digital solutions will be offered to us with huge advantages of personalisation, and cost-effectiveness. But maybe we need to pause and remember that physical, analogue design is tangible..and permanent.

Bonhams / Oxford

On the outskirts of Oxford, towards Kiddlington, is an unremarkable garage, next to an AlfaRomeo main dealer. All is not what it seems however, as this is one of only 2 Bonhams auction houses outside of London. On Sunday the 7th was a sale of collectible classic cars, automobilia, and collectible automotive art.

IMG_4351

One of the favourites for me was this Lister Jaguar 7litre with epic forged wheels…IMG_4363

A classic i’d forgotten about but one that’s off the ‘hotness’ scale is the Fiat Dino..a Ferrari-engined bargain at £21K

IMG_4352

IMG_4358

 

IMG_4349

IMG_4346

£124K for this brutal DeTomaso Mangusta..

or £57K for the gentleman’s version..

IMG_4344

IMG_4341

This Bentley’s customer had his own thermometer and altimeter fitted by the factory… personalisation 1960’s style

canvas

IMG_4373

IMG_4327

Q80

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

2014_Infiniti_Q80_Inspiration_Concept_18

Having been involved in the development of this project it’s interesting listening to the internet talk surrounding the concept’s launch in Paris. General consensus ranges from being stunned by the scale of the thing (over 5m long) to being impressed by the car but remaining to be convinced by the brand.

Infiniti-Q80-Concept-16

It’s true that Infiniti doesn’t have the cachet of the premium German companies, nor the products to challenge them. But remember, Lexus had a similar situation back in 1989 when the LS was launched. That car instantly took the Toyota sub-brand from nothing to a genuine challenger. The fact that since then Lexus hasn’t delivered anything as important is more down to product strategy and design direction, but the truth was that Lexus shocked the premium establishment.

infiniti-q80-inspiration-concept-6931-008It’s an almost impossible line to tread; design something radical and the Euro sophisticates will shun it for being too flash, too new, too expressive. Play it too traditionally and you’ll never be able to compete with the established brands with years of heritage.

infiniti-q80-inpiration-concept-front-three-quarterBy the time the Q80 gets to production in around 2017 the styling will be less shocking, less avant-garde than it looks at Paris. The suicide doors will probably change and the beautiful clean lines will be criss-crossed with shutlines. Yet the impressive presence will remain. This is the car that will put Infiniti on the map…