What TopGear never quite managed…an epic encounter
In a nod to Nissan’s Japanese heritage and inspired by the very first steps of car design – getting ideas onto paper – artist Owen Gildersleeve hand built the intricate replica model from paper to the exact dimensions of the current Juke.
Darryl Scriven, Design Manager at Nissan’s Design Centre for Europe, said: “The first step of any car design involves putting pencil to paper. From that simple start, it’s a complex journey to production involving hundreds of skilled people, thousands of man-hours and millions in investment. So we think it’s very apt that on its fifth birthday, we celebrate the Nissan Juke with a tribute that harks back to that simple, but bold, first step, all carried out with Nissan’s signature innovation and excitement of course.”
Check out my article on Project Caden – Carlos Salaff’s inspirational Supercar Build on Core77
Mazda are on a roll with their concepts. They wowed us at Frankfurt with the Koeru Crossover, now the RX-Vision breaks cover in Tokyo.
From Mazda’s press release: The design aim was to shave away all but the essentials, giving birth to the dynamic tension and ambience of a machine that is all business. The fine craftsmanship of Mazda’s renowned clay modelers have created reflections that convey motion, thereby capturing the spirit of the KODO design language without relying on character lines or other such elements. This is an elegant and highly vital form that subtly changes its appearance with even the slightest change of viewing angle.
Doing ‘simple’ well is the most difficult thing. Resisting the distraction of light-catchers, and surfacing-breaking character lines is a brave move by Mazda, and it’s resulted in a purity of form that is classical, yet also ground-breaking. I say that because many non car-designers bemoan the lack of beautiful forms in contemporary car design, looking back to a romantic age of 1950s voluptuous Jaguars and Ferraris, without understanding the stringent packaging and legislation constraints that today’s designers have to balance..but the RX-Vision captures that romantic proportion, that curvaceous surfacing, and combines it with a distinctly ‘now’ surface-twisting bodyside. I shouldn’t get too carried away – it is still a concept…but surely this hints at the next RX (9 maybe?)…
One of the stars of Frankfurt this year was the Mercedes Concept IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile). Its trick is to elongate body-sections around the tail at speeds above 80km/h to improve aerodynamics. Other technology is deployed around the vehicle when this happens, but the visual drama is all at the rear-end, where the car appears to elongate. The aero behind this is that the longer (and smaller in section) you can make the tail of a car (where the airflow detaches from the body) the less resultant turbulent drag the shape creates…
So back in 2006 I designed a car that would do exactly the same trick. It was for my final MA project, based around a dissertation ‘the perception of aerodynamics’, and I’ll say right now, Mercedes did a better job!..but it was essentially the same idea. I say that not by way of claiming any ownership, as nothing is ever really ‘new’, more that these ideas have been around for a while…and it’s good to share ideas that have been realised in one form or another:
Initially I started with this idea to just have side panels that cleaned the airflow around the tail of the shape. But projects evolve (not always for the good!) and ended up with the dual-mode tail – short for urban, long for aero:
How to make the elongated tail work elegantly was beyond my project timeline / skillset at the time so I ended up making the 1/4-scale model in its ‘long’ mode..and orange.
Mercedes have created a effective solution to an aerodynamic conundrum… and I’m glad to have worked out the same design solution as they did!
Mazda Koeru. I can’t pronounce it, but Mazda’s Kodo design language keeps getting better and better. It’s now several years since the Kodo (Soul of Motion) mantra was introduced and each iteration of concept, and production car too, is a more refined and elegant interpretation.
The Koeru is almost simple in it’s form and proportion, but it’s a delicate trick achieving this level of economy of line. The DLO in particular is beatifully fluid with an organic flick at the C-pillar. Mazda probably don’t have the customer base to launch this in a crowded Sports-SUV segment, but it would be the best-looking of the lot if they managed it..
As mentioned previously, the OEMs have sat and watched Tesla’s success like a hawk. Porsche described the mission-e as what the future “might look like”..and the theoretical specs make this concept a direct hit on Tesla’s model S. Whether you like the gentle evolutionary approach of Porsche’s design language, or find it a little constricted – the e-mission is undeniably a beautiful form. Like the Mazda there’s a simplicity about the surfaces that is stunning. Nothing superfluous – each intake is purely functional, but blended effortlessly into the seamless and instantly-recognisable form. Particularly impressive is the framing of the headlamps into the hood; the line that blends down through the vertical aero-slots and tucks back towards the centreline of the car.
Infiniti’s push to a volume-seller in the premium C-segment makes them take aim at the Golf, Focus, 308 etc. There’s evidence of certain packaging constraints, particularly in the interior where a high windsheild base and fairly tight door-closures mean the interior space feels ‘cosy’ rather than spacious. But the exterior brings real sophistication to this segment. The bold twisting beltline is unique amongst the Euro competitors, who tend to define their individuality with lighting and grille elements. The Q30 really makes a statement: some might find it too characterful, but in gunmetal grey and 20″ wheels, it looks like something from the class above.
Honourable mention: Alfa-Romeo Giulia
Should have been the star for me – I love a big beefy Alfa…but, the design detailing let it down. The nose appears flatter in plan view than it did in the press-pics. The grille is clumsy with blanked panels (presumably to hide sensors / pipe-work etc) while the proportions feel a little heavy around the rear 3/4.
The interior, on the other hand, is great. High centre-console, so it feels like a Jaguar in this respect, with Hallelujah – a manual gearbox! Nicely integrated media screen (not the usual rectangular unit) and simple but tactile HVAC controls. No distraction from the main event..510HP.