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!
Big news story here, for the future of the automotive business.
As an automotve design teacher, this is possibly one of the best and most important articles I’ve read recently. I have urged all my students to read it, this is the future we are entering, and it sounds very interesting and exciting. Vehicles will still need designing, and even private vehicles will continue to exist for recreational and non-urban use.
By the time you read this maybe this car has actually been launched, or maybe not. I suspect not. It’s vapor in my opinion, which will never be put into production (mostly because it can’t be engineered as it is). The design is a mess, poorly photoshopped together based on other mid-engined designs (Bugatti) and the packaging has been ignored in terms of driver/passengers visibility. This design could work perhaps, with some tweaks and development carried out by a trained designer (please speculators, hire professional car designers!). I couldn’t resist very quickly showing a few form tweaks that improve the design instantly. See my hastily hacked together GIFs below. The proximity to April 1st launch date is the biggest clue on this however…. so let’s see in a few days if it was all a hoax. Oh and this is how to design a proper hypercar.
edit: So the New York show has been and gone, and this car did not of course appear. Meanwhile, here’s a scruffy mechanic in a shed- who has bashed together a supercar. Styling was “a little bit ‘o this, and a little bit ‘o that” in the mans own words!