Yet another Twitter conversation has turned into something I should post here. It feels like I waste a lot of time on Twitter, but to be honest I very much enjoy the debate that it stirs up. I completely agree with the complaints around being able to SEE OUT of any modern car. Designers obsession with low narrow window heights and dynamic rising DLOs, means that modern cars can be a real problem to see out of. For children using the rear seats this becomes even worse and most kids have no view onto the outside world while travelling. Motion sickness can result- although technically NO visibility at all can apparently be better for that issue. So I was busy playing with showing ratios in photoshop. A new Citroen C3 Aircross began the debate, as it has very large ratio of metal to glass. Others named cars they presumed to have huge areas of glass- but analysis shows that even these stick to similar proportions to any sportscar. The preferred ratio is to keep the DLO graphic- meaning the ratio of glass to metal (of the door to sill area) below 50% for the glass. For example the worst offender in recent years was the Fiat Multipla. Our favourite example of great bad design. The glass/metal ratio is 50/50 and even heading into 55/45 towards the front side windows perhaps. A Twitter users own Porsche was mentioned as an example of a car with lots of glass- but here we can also see it has the magic formula for DLO/metal ratio. This ratio was dynamic in the days of the Porsche 924, compared to ordinary cars, but now just about every vehicle uses this dynamic and strong ratio to help us all imagine we are driving a Porsche… not an ordinary car!
Spotted today. Can you name these two saloon/sedan cars? Very nice but very similar. The interesting part is that only one of these saloons is a classic front longitudinal engined rear wheel drive car. The engine Mounted behind the front axle for perfect weight distribution. The other is a standard front wheel drive layout. The proportions are the same however. These are what are known as premium proportions. Originally they came from the drivetrain packaging layout, but now designers apply these proportions as an aesthetic to produce a premium product.
Well this debate began over on Twitter, with some other working car designers being quite vocal on how bad this new Lexus LS design is. I think it has problems, but I am willing to accept some progressive experimentation. Lexus in particular has been heavily experimenting in various styling and surfacing ideas, some good some bad. The LC coupe is particularly nice, but has gone through many iterations and concept cars to come out the other side. It still has some odd design details, but for a sportscar it is important to grab the viewers attention. The LS on the other hand, is intended as an executive model, with luxury in mind. It has traditionally appeared as quite a conservative design. The surfaces and design ideas are chaotic and a little messy, which is something designers have noted. The strangest thing is the proportions, with a great emphasis on cab-backward proportions. It is almost unique in the way that the peak of the side DLO is in the middle of the rear door. Similarities to other sedans (saloons) were noted, and similarity in supposed “bad” design. The new Civic sedan is something that I am not impressed by, for example. The most similar proportionally, and a possible clue to Toyotas intended rival and benchmark design, is the Tesla Model S. I decided to put together an image comparing lots of current sedans on sale now. Looking for that strange proportion (which must give great rear passenger headroom?). Maserati Ghibli seems a good candidate.
Well this year has been incredibly busy, especially with my job where I’ve seen progress on my Vehicle Design course connecting with the industry. Meanwhile Twitter seems to be a place for my connections to grow and this led to a very fun situation where I was asked to be interviewed by Andrew Clews of The Motoring Podcast. Andrew managed to draw a lot of personal history from me, over the course of 3 hours chatting! A very pleasant experience, it was split into two instalments due to length and I can part 1 and part 2 with you all now. Part 1 is about 1 hour, and covers similar topics to this blog. Part 2 is 2 hours talking about my own car ownership history!
Sadly I have not visited a motor show myself for many years, and Paris 2016 is no exception. I have of course been closely following coverage. The French are truly stealing the show, with the Renault Trezor concept an outstanding example of showmanship and the Citroen C3 proving to be the production car highlight of the show. The Germans seem a bit lost, especially Audi. Reveling in their tiny advances in production techniques (see an earlier post) is not something the public can appreciate easily (Apple have similar issues) and the visual language seems to be moving backwards. Skoda now appear to make and design better Audis than Audi. So this post is titled because of the small cars that are making big news at this show, one of which was underwhelming! The Volkswagen I.D. Concept is a little bland and ordinary, but such is the way at the conservative manufacturer of the Golf. Compared to sticking with their 1974 template, the I.D. concept was clean and smooth and tidy, but uninspiring. Three newly launched production cars impressed. The Opel Ampera-e is a very tidy little electric car design, with outstanding technical features. The Nissan Micra has suddenly been dragged into fashion with Infiniti brand-esque curves and swooping surfaces, a real shock! Finally the Citroen C3 takes cues from the outstanding Cactus C4, with its air bumps and urban utitily chic. So Parisien! I include these rear end comparisons though….. just look at that lower bumper area. The Opel seems to have parts stuck to it from a 1994 Corsa. Why? What are these multiple extra (cheap) lights for? Is this US regulations? It’s also sold as a Chevrolet. The rear ends of Micra and C3 are minimalist and quite wonderful in comparison.
Big news story here, for the future of the automotive business.
Filled my diesel car up. This is the range remaining. An electric car can’t do this, but…. then I drove 2km round trip to local shops and back home. Any electric car CAN do that no problem at all! In fact- I should’ve walked (an extra km was used to drive to the cheapest petrol station).
A good electric car like a Tesla is an iPhone compared to a Nokia (in 2007) It’s faster, more powerful, better in every way- but doesn’t last all week. Look what happened to Nokia. Same fate awaits fossil fuel powered cars.