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April - June 2012



02. DESIGN Porsche Panamera Sibling Rivalry Vauxhall Ampera - Game Changer? Renault - Take it Twizy Mercedes SL - Sport. Lightweight. Volkswagen up! - New Kid on the Block Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv Porsche 911 Carrera

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03. INTERVIEWS Interview with Mark Adams Interview with Michael Mauer

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04. AUTO SHOWS Geneva Motor Show 2012 Beijing Auto Show 2012 Ecovelocity Green Motor Show 2012

44 52 59

05. CITY WATCH New Bus for London Arrives (almost) on Time Milan Design Week

62 66

06. TRENDS Car Design Research Insight


07. SPECIAL Rimac Lightning GT

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08. VIEW Peter Stevens - The Supercar in the 21st Century


April - June 2012


FOUNDER Hannah Macmurray EDITORIAL Editor Hannah Macmurray Assistant Editor Richard Lane CONTRIBUTORS Guy Bird Emma Clerici Car Design Research COMMUNICATION Head of Communications Fatima Bettache PHOTOGRAPHY Photographers Olgun Kordal Mark Raybone DESIGN Graphic Designer Helen Stella


ou may have noticed our recent foray into sports cars, such as the Mercedes SL, Porsche 911, and now on the cover you can enjoy the classic British lines of the Lightning L-EV. It may seem strange that a magazine dedicated to innovation in environmental design in the automotive world should even entertain these kind of cars, but you might be surprised. It is in automotive sports that boundaries and innovation are pushed to extremes at a dizzying pace, and discoveries, ultimately, trickle into mainstream cars. As Peter Stevens, supercar designer and professor, very clearly puts it in his VIEW piece for us this month, “How cool would it be to be swooshing on an Autobahn, Autoroute or Motorway at 130 mph using no more than 2 litres of fuel for every 100 kilometers...”. Yeah! How cool! And it is this element of car design that keeps designers sketching sportscars beyond realism, even at such a critical time in our environment’s history when we should reconsider its role in car design. How can supercars be cool once again? Defying convention, loosing weight and extreme clean performance are some of the ways we will be seeing supercars revisiting their roots to recreate a sustainable future for what had become the dinosaur car segment! Exciting times then for Michael Mauer, interviewed in Geneva for GCD, as he tips Porsche design into a new stunning direction and also for Lightning Car Company as it can finally see the light at the end of the dark tunnel of recession and looks to move into production. Please enjoy this riveting edition, we hope to exceed expectations... if you want to rant or rave remember that we are only an email away at Editor and Founder Hannah Macmurray


Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

Clean diesel vs hi-tech hybrid, Panamera style Words Hannah Macmurray Photography Olgun Kordal


ne of this job’s guilty pleasures is, occasionally, being able to drive really great cars. This time that pleasure came in the form of not one but two Porsche Panameras, the hybrid and diesel. Why two? Well, we really had to figure out why Porsche would bother going to the trouble of developing a hybrid luxury sedan when the diesel is, on paper, seemingly a cheaper and efficient option. Firmly cocooned in our driver’s seats Guy Bird and myself set out for a Combined test drive of South London to the monolithic East Beach Café designed by Heatherwick (yes they designed the New Bus for London!) in Littlehampton. The drive down offered the first statistical insight

into the superficially obvious advantages of a super efficient diesel engine on longer distance trials as it averaged 38.7mpg whilst the hybrid averaged 32.5mpg (this given that the hybrid averaged 36mph against the diesel’s 31mph). For Porsche fans the classic ‘turn your engine and hear it roar’ effect is null and void on the hybrid with its electric start and you also forfeit about 110 litres of space in the boot because the 70kg nickel-metal-hybride battery needs somewhere to live! Neither car is terribly generous on space given its voluptuous proportions (just under 5m long and 2m wide), and whilst four adults can very comfortably fit in either vehicle, they would do well to travel light.

It did, however, quickly become obvious that Porsche know exactly what they are doing. Both the diesel and the hybrid have their place, diesel in Europe and hybrid in the US. The diesel carries more raw Porsche DNA when it comes to drive feel and handling, its familiar and Germanic, weighted yet sporty. Diesel is a very popular value-for-money fuel in Europe but it still is ‘dirtier’ than Petrol when is comes to emissions particulates. I see the hybrid as the more advanced Porsche; it has a new lighter touch in line with a desirable lighter carbon footprint. Its easy to maneuver, even

park, in the city, and quick to embrace the open road when asked. So while the Europeans will embrace the diesel with little thought the US and Asia are definitely the pioneers in this case with their already massive uptake of the hybrid. Let me tell you why… The Panamera S hybrid is the ultimate ‘green’ luxury sports sedan! While at these levels being green may be a futile argument, it still is significant that a vehicle over 2,000 kg vehicle can spend up to 80% of its time driving around town in electric mode, even 100% if E-Power overrides the petrol

engine. It is silent, not the effect most traditional Porsche customers desire, but then again this is no traditional drivetrain. You will find yourself hard-pressed to notice the shift between petrol and battery mode as the ‘machine’ calculates and calibrates your driving behaviour optimising efficiency and performance. Even at higher speeds on motorways you can find yourself cruising in electric drive, quietly using the momentum of the rear wheels to generate power at 0 revs! What? Yep, it was at this moment that the Hyrbid won me over. Intelligent, I felt that I had in my hands one of the most sophisticated automotive machines on the road today. Like any new idea people will pick at a car like the Panamera S hybrid. Its looks came under fire

when it first hit the road, but it has grown on me. I am now a fan. Its not a shape of its time, but like the Cayenne it sets its own rules about aesthetics, Porsche has always been this way. It is with time that their cars become icons and then classics. Its heavy J-Lo derrière actually balances the long démodé overhang while smooth detailing belies its apparent simplicity. Note, for example, the beautiful swoop around the window on the rear doors, lovely to the touch, bespoke to the eye. You can feel the sculptural quality of the car by following its beltline with your hand; try it one day, it will make you smile. The interior is luxury nirvana, nothing is left to chance and no-one can be left wanting. Every little detail, even exposed cup-holders, are dealt with by

Above Panamera “It’s not a shape of its time, but like the Cayenne, it sets its own rules about aesthetics”. Left page Internal details Luxuriously appointed interior is complete with plenty of gadgets.

using clever trim covers and whilst there are a few plastic inserts that need upgrading, it doesn’t get much slicker that this. There are four full-sized seats accompanied by place considered lighting. The BOSE entertainment system will have you immersed in your favourite Bach or Gaga with surround sound that furthermore sets you blissfully further away from the grit of the street. It is after all an elite car, and it will set you apart from the masses, it will make others look at you with envy, joy…wonder. Like a rare, even endangered, animal, the Panamera S hybrid commands attention. I would even argue that its design quirkiness actually endears the owner to the car, and I certainly found that RE11 YRC was constantly the centre of attention despite design critics’ lukewarm reviews. Admittedly on the road the hybrid can be awkward over bumps, braking is slightly temperamental, and its Jekyll and Hyde character sometimes finds the engine roaring along the road and other times creeping quietly round corners surprising pedestrians; but if you are serious about gadgets, technology, luxury, have half a mind about caring about the state of our planet, and an extra £90,000 + in pocket go now and buy this car…hey, buy both!



Game Changer?

Game Changer?

Vauxhall take the plunge with the UK’s first plug-in hybrid… Words Richard Lane Photography David Shepherd


hether in Chevrolet Volt or Opel Ampera guise, it’s not been a particularly easy gestation period for GM’s revolutionary range-extender. Concerns voiced regarding cost effectiveness, battery safety and scrutiny over it’s considerable funding have all taken their toll, but now GM’s eco-flagship in on sale on three continents and, as of this year, in the UK as well. The importance of the Ampera cannot be understated; its introduction to the UK market represents a first for plug-in hybrid vehicles and if sales are strong, particularly to fleets, the Ampera may set

the tone in the development of alternative transport for years to come. GM have got pedigree in this field too, having developed the battery powered lunar rover used in the final three ‘Apollo’ missions, and although the consensus is that nigh on £30,000 is too much for the Ampera, it’s certainly an improvement on the $38millon the lunar rover eventually cost. The idea behind the Ampera is that it’s the only car you’ll ever need. Owners of pure electric vehicles such as Nissan’s Leaf or Mitsubishi’s iMiev will attest to the problem that inevitably arises when

their car (rather quickly) runs out of charge. This is a problem that the Ampera neatly overcomes by using a 1.4-litre petrol engine generator, which kicks in after around 50 miles of zero-emissions electric only driving and allows the Ampera to cover an extra 310 miles. Total range, then, is up to 360 miles – comparable to a conventional ICE vehicle but with lower emissions and generally stronger fuel economy (more on that later). The important thing to remember is that although the Ampera houses an ICE engine, power is only ever delivered to the wheels via electricity. This is an important

differentiation to make with more conventional hybrids that are, exclusively, either electric or petrol driven. Conceptually at least, the Ampera seems to present an answer to the many problems faced by drivers. Achieving excellent fuel economy will be the driving force behind Ampera sales and whilst in battery mode it achieves an equivalent of around 225mpg, this soon changes when you run out of charge and the generator kicks in. From then on the Ampera’s economy figure will fall with every mile you drive and whilst this makes perfect sense, the question is

“how much, and how fast, will it fall?”. After covering 130 miles over of combination of motorways and B-roads, the Ampera finished up at just under 50mpg. In other words, around the same figure as a BMW 320d, a car that falls in exactly the same price bracket and, considering the BMW’s many strengths, makes the Ampera quite hard to justify. However, Vauxhall claim that the majority of commuters cover less than 30 miles each day and it’s in this scenario that the Ampera is almost indomitable. Most owners would be able to use the battery exclusively during the week, for example, which costs very little, and then use the Ampera as a range-extender for a longer journey at the weekend. After 100 miles of varied driving, the Ampera will still return upwards of 60mpg, and it’s this adaptability that sets the Vauxhall apart from everything else. If you regularly drive over 100 miles then buy an efficient diesel, and if you only drive in the city, then buy a far cheaper EV, but most drivers blur these

parameters and it’s here that the Ampera makes sense. A lot of it. Usefully, in ‘Hold Mode’, charge from the battery can be stored (and the generator engaged) to used later. This would be particularly useful if you were to travel a long distance to a city. Power output is healthy at 150bhp and with a limited top speed of 100mph the Ampera easily keeps pace with modern traffic, as many pure EVs fail to do. A high torque figure also means acceleration is more brisk than you might expect. Complementing these figures is a ride that has been set up reasonably well for UK roads although the steering feels a little disconnected, ‘feel’ is something electric and hybrid vehicles have yet to master (not you Tesla Roadster). The Ampera sees Vauxhall’s newfound design language (pioneered by Mark Adams) developed a step further. Most noticeable are the black ‘boomerang’ headlight housings that extend down the front skirt as well as the glossy black shadows that form the windowline. The Ampera’s silhouette is

Left Ampera’s cabin is on the conservative side, but uses touch-sensitive buttons. Right page Vauxhall have made it clear that this is not a run-of-themill saloon.

well balanced and incorporates an aggressively raked windscreen with a high hatchback bootline. The Ampera does, however, look slightly odd directly from behind and this is because of the ‘hammerhead’ rear lights set into the bumper. The Ampera’s alloys also do a good job of avoiding the plate-like look of so many other aerodynamically efficient wheels. Overall, the Ampera’s aesthetic is as striking as it is subtle and whilst nothing is truly revolutionary, remember that this is not a concept car anymore. The interior is much the same as the Insignia’s, however gauges are replaced with digital dials, graphs and screens that present the driver with almost everything they may want to know. The centre-stack is also touch sensitive and this adds a futuristic touch to the cabin. As an eco-friendly car that’s equally at home in the city or on motorways, the Ampera has no equal. It’s refined, dynamic, frugal and, most importantly, can be used as a household’s only vehicle. The only problem is the slightly exorbitant price that will initially hamper sales, although consider that new technology is always expensive and if it really is a solution then the sales will come and the economies of scale will duly follow. At 70% of the current price, the Ampera would no doubt fly off the shelves.


Take it Twizy


Take it Twizy

Charismatic little EV takes Europe by storm Words/Photography Richard Lane



n an industry dominated by regulations and profits margins, it’s not often that we see something that is truly novel, much less so from a struggling major manufacturer. Indeed, Renault’s sales figures for 2011 were down 9% from 2010 and the first two months of 2012 have certainly been disparaging. This week, however, marks the arrival of the latest addition to Renault’s burgeoning Z.E. range on UK forecourts and a bold step for the French carmaker. When Renault revealed the Twizy concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, it was predicted to be

on the roads in 2011 at a cost of around £12,000. As happens so often in this industry, the production version of the Twizy has arrived late but conversely, and what happens extremely infrequently, is that this car is nearly 50% cheaper than anticipated. A rather excellent trade-off it must be said (even with battery leasing included), with prices for the ‘Urban’ spec Twizy starting at £6,690 before rising to £7,400 in top-spec ‘Technic’ guise. Renault chose Ibiza as the venue to launch the Twizy and it proved to be a fitting location. Made up of small colonial towns linked by undulating

rural roads, the island allowed us to put the Twizy through its paces – navigating both narrow, highwalled streets and fast, open bends. The Twizy acquitted itself well in both situations, and whilst it certainly isn’t fast, it’s swift enough for the city and even on larger roads its 13kW electric motor makes for decent progress on everything this side of a dual carriageway. The Zoe, due in the autumn, will be more suited to faster roads. Both shorter than a Smart Fortwo and narrower than an original Fiat 600, maneuverability is very much the focal point of the Twizy’s design and a turning circle of just 3.4 metres evidences this. The remarkable thing is that sitting inside the Twizy feels neither cramped nor unduly uncomfortable, even in the passenger seat (which sits directly behind the driver’s seat and permits the Twizy its slender width). The modular seats may prove a little unforgiving after an extended period of time but given the limited 60km-or-so range of the Twizy this won’t ever be a problem.

The Twizy is all about open architecture and this serves as a reminder that, fundamentally at least, it genealogy is closer to a scooter (such as the Piaggio MP3) than a conventional car. The Twizy makes the driver feel part of the scenery, and whilst this is undoubtedly more desirable in the Ibiza countryside than in congested cities, it’s a refreshing twist in comparison to many claustrophobic city cars. Fundamentally the production Twizy is very true to original 2009 concept, marking a new style for Renault, and the subtle back-to-front teardrop shaped roof complements its forward stance. It’s silhouette is also shaped like a helmet: the ovoid roof and front are set off by a sculpted rear that houses a Cyclops-esque rear light. With the electric motor tucked neatly underneath the passenger the rear is very tidy – the same cannot be said for the other end where the charger is housed. A bulk of black plastic doesn’t exactly imbue the Twizy with elegance but it does enclose the protective girders that account for the Twizy’s decent front-impact

Left page Twizy Lower-powered Twizy 45 will be available to 16 yearolds without a license. Right Twizy’s Scissor doors are an expensive option, but it’s difficult to say no.

safety – very much function over form. Perhaps the most conspicuous aspect of the Twizy are its Lamborghini-esque scissor doors. They look impressive but feel flimsy; a double-edged sword as this means that whilst they are very easy to close, they wouldn’t stand up well in a collision. On the inside, the Twizy is suitably Spartan but very intuitive. Controls are simple and clear. Visibility is excellent, and whilst the ‘Urban’ model’s roof is made from a plastic composite, the ‘Technic’ comes with a glass roof that serves only to exaggerate the feeling of spaciousness. The zero-emissions runabout falls under Renault’s ‘eco2’ umbrella, where cars have to meet environmental requirements not only in emissions, but also in production and recycling. The eco2 figure

for recyclable plastic is 7% although it’s reasonable to presume this is much higher for the Twizy. Furthermore, much of the money paid to lease the battery eventually goes into recycling it. With a friendly and open design, the Twizy goes a long way to defining what personal mobility really means. Renault has pushed hard over the last couple of years to ‘open the door’ for this kind of vehicle and it’s a gamble that looks like it might well pay off for them. Presently there’s nothing else like this on the road, and whilst GM have the RAK-e in the pipeline and Audi the Urban also in development, they are both at least a year away. Just how much Renault can capitalize on this advantage remains to be seen but, having driven the Twizy, things certainly look promising.



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Sport. Lightweight.

Sport. Lightweight. Mercedes SL goes back to the future Words Guy Bird


ercedes will disagree, but I think it’s fair to say the famous three-pointed star brand hasn’t been the quickest out the blocks when it comes to lowering emissions and improving fuel economy of its big cars in the last decade. It’s tended to appeal to the middle ground – compared to BMW say – and retain a little more performance, comfort and refinement. Ratcheting down emissions can often mean losing such attributes through smaller engines, adjusted gear ratios and stripping out weight through less noise and vibration-reducing cladding. Greener cars can some-

times also lack a little style with skinny low-rolling resistance tyres, smaller wheels and visually weird aero additions affecting stance and shape. The good news for the new SL – now in its sixth generation – is that its engineers and designers have zipped up their boots and gone back to its ‘Sport Lightweight’ roots (what ‘SL’ historically stands for) by getting rid of a whopping 140kg compared to the last one. Having extolled its 90% aluminium body already in Green Car Design’s Hot/ Not section I now wanted to find out more by driving it.

Beyond the serious weight loss, the SL has lost the fifth-generation model facelift’s squashed hood and wonky eye look and gained a longer and wider taut new body befitting someone who’s been down the gym. In matte grey metallic in particular the flashy feeling that normally comes as standard driving any new SL – especially a red one – is toned down considerably and morphs into something much more sophisticated. “I may cost circa £80k but I don’t need to shout about it,” you can almost hear it purr. In SL500 guise the 435hp V8 gives out more of a pleasing burble than a purr but incredibly still records 31.0mpg and only 212g/km of CO2. The SL350 306hp V6 is more amazing still, judged by those criteria, posting 41.5mpg and 159g/km. That’s 12mpg and 47g/km better than the old SL350, or a jump of almost 30%.

Aerodynamics have also played a key role in these great figures, with the new SL350 recording a 0.27 drag co-efficient, making it the most aerodynamically efficient mainstream sportscar on sale, says Mercedes. Quick wins are gained by smoothing the underside of the car with engine covers and through the SL’s relatively long front and rear overhangs but Merc’s aerodynamicist – the superbly named Dr Teddy Woll – says they also managed to improve things by clever adjustment of the A-pillars. Discovering that water pouring off the front screen and onto the side windows was a drag-inducer, Woll’s team created a channel that traps the water and sends it up over the top instead. A groove in the top of the door mirror has a similar channeling role, trapping water coming off the front of the mirror and sending it down to run off

Above Mercedes SL’s internal details Interior quality is first class; with propellerstyle air vents punctuating classy leatherclad surfaces. Right page Mercedes SL Lighter, greener, comfortable and better looking. Progress.

the bottom edge instead of back onto the side windows. The nodule that guides the water creates a little drag but is “worth having” says Woll. Also ‘worth having’ is the experience of driving the new SL. Fast or slow, top up or top down (a smooth 20-second process of whirring glass and metal) the SL is a pleasant place to sit, neither jittery and wanting to go faster when cruising round-town nor wobbly and unstable when working the gearshift paddles on twisty mountain passes. For such a big car it feels very agile, although it’s still a big car to park. Get the valet to do that or own a large driveway. The quality of the interior is also first class, with propeller-style cold-touch metal-dipped air vents punctuating classy leather and carbon fibre-covered surfaces. Opt for the B&O stereo system with

Merc’s patented new FrontBass system – where free areas in the aluminium structure in front of the footwells become seriously large resonance spaces for the bass speakers – and your song of choice, in my case on the test, “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone, becomes transformed. At the climax of the long track it sounded like Nina’s drummer was sitting in the car with us, somewhere between the footwell and the instrument panel I think. Awesome. In summary then, the new SL is lighter, greener, still high performing, comfortable and more good-looking and sounding than before. Good work. Note to the designers probably about to get started on the facelift though: Please sort the front lights out a bit, they’re okay but needlessly busy and LED-graphic heavy compared to the sophistication of the rest of the car.



New Kid on the Block

New Volkswagen Kid on the Block up! set to rumble city car hierarchy Words Richard Lane Photography Mark Raybone


t’s no secret that Volkswagen make good small cars. And whilst they’re quite happy to let their compatriots dominate the executive market (and dominate it they do), make no mistake; the European market for C-segment cars downwards belongs to the Wolfsburg outfit. Both the Golf and its younger Polo sibling are leaders in their respective classes and, in terms of knowing what their loyal customers want, Volkswagen excel in rarely releasing a dud model. So when Dr. Winterkorn and the VAG board sign off an all-new model for what they predict to be the fastest growing segment over the next few years, the safe money is on this trend to continue.

The up!, although already on sale in continental Europe, will begin to appear on UK roads this month. Initially buyers will have a choice of three specifications, starting with the Take up!, which starts at £7,995, making it the most accessible model in a range that culminates with the 75bhp High up!, which adds chrome and body coloured dashboard panels as well as a leather trimmed steering wheel amongst other niceties. There are also a few special editions and if you factor in the amount of variants on display at this year’s Geneva Motor Show (which even included a ‘Swiss’ Up!), it all becomes a little bewildering. The model that we are interested in, however, sits

in the middle of the range: the Move up! BlueMotion. The Move up! Bluemotion comes with a new generation 60bhp, 3-cylinder engine that’s capable of an impressive combined 68.9mpg and 96 g/km CO2. Stop-start technology and low rolling-resistance tyres help contribute to these figures as well as low-friction engine components. Although power is not the name of the game with an eco-friendly city car, 60bhp does seem a little tightfisted. If, however, you take into consideration the up!’s weight of around 940kg, then that power output becomes more acceptable. Until you reach a hill at least. In any case, the up!’s strengths lie elsewhere. Build quality is at the same stratospheric level that we have come to expect from Volkswagen, but even so, it’s still a surprise for such a small car to feel so solid. Responsible for the up!’s design are Walter da Silva (who allegedly sketched the up! on a plane home from the 2007 Detroit Auto Show) andKlaus Bischoff, and when viewed in the metal it’s clear that there’s a lot happening in a very small space. The finished product, however, doesn’t feel over-designed and there’s a remarkable iconic simplicity to the up!’s silhouette. The up!’s face is characterized by an unbroken rectangular wire grill. This is a continuation of the bracketed fog light theme first seen on the E-Bug-

Above VW up!’s details Glossy dashboard finish is a winner, and matches the remaining interior stylishly. Left page VW up! Far for spacious than you would ever credit a car of this size with, due to clever packaging.

ster Concept in Detroit earlier this year. It is also defined by the up!’s headlights, which follow the same form as those found on other Volkswagen models though scaled down. Overall, the up! is a tidy package as far as the exterior is concerned and exudes more class than many of it’s competitors, such as Fiat’s Panda or the Toyota Aygo, could ever hope to possess. The good news continues on the inside too. A long wheelbase and small engine, which is mounted very far forward, belies its diminutive proportions, and adds design flare that was desperately lacking in its predecessor, the Fox. Volkswagen have managed to combine a high seating position with a high steering column; not easy, but the result is that you’re very aware of the space that becomes available within the upper half of the cabin without the feeling that you’re sitting on top of the car, rather than in it (as is the case with the Mk IV Polo). Bare in mind that the up! is comfortably shorter than the Hyundai i10. The defining feature of the interior is a glossy dash pad (bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Fiat 500) that spans the entire width of the dashboard. On highspec models this can be customized to mirror the exterior colour of the car. Set into the dash pad is a grown-up switch module that tapers slightly towards a usefully big storage compartment behind the

gear stick. The High up! also comes with a surprisingly neat detachable Navigon navigation system as standard. New, modular seats also lend the interior a sporting attitude and although this won’t be fooling anyone they certainly look the part. But beware that the finish of the up’s interior is hugely dependant on the overall specification of the car. From behind the wheel the up! excels at what it has been designed to do. Small dimensions, good visibility and a light steering rack make this city-car easily maneuverable and a pleasure to drive once you have accepted it on its merits. The up! feels reasonably agile and a gearbox with a shorter throw than expected makes for more fun than one would perhaps credit a 60bhp supermini with. The up! is unsurprisingly set up to understeer but it is doubtful that most owners will get near the limit of the car’s traction. Importantly for this type of car, the up! doesn’t instill impatience into the driver, as so many cars in this category do (Citroen C1, ahem). Overall, the up!’s good looks and decent dynamics make for an enjoyable driving experience. It will be interesting to compare the up! to the 2012 Fiat Panda, which we expect will lack the class of the up! but may well make up for it with a surfeit of charm. Until then, the up! comes highly recommended.



Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv

Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv

Mazda to hold fire on hybrid technology Words Richard Lane Photography Olgun Kordal


ew landscapes in the UK, and arguably Europe, can rival the formidable terrain found on the Isle of Skye. Sandwiched between mainland Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, Skye and the surrounding highlands can be reached with relative ease from Inverness, which is a leisurely twohour drive to the west. With sound reasoning, Skye was deemed an ideal location for Mazda to launch the first of their sixth generation of vehicles - the CX-5 crossover SUV. Starting at £21,395, at first glance the CX-5 seems to be a lot of car for the money, although the top-spec 2.2 AWD CX-5 will set you back a not inconsiderable £28,395. This just about brings the CX-5 into the firing line of the lower ranks of the considerably more desirable Range Rover Evoque range. This launch was about much more than a new competitor in an already crowded (but growing) market segment, however. The CX-5 is the first Mazda to house not only the Japanese maker’s new, efficient SkyActiv technology but it also exhibits Design Chief Ikuo Maeda’s vision for Mazda’s future design language: KODO. With the tag line ‘Soul of Motion’, KODO derives its character from theMinagi concept car seen at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Incidentally, Minagi was the last Mazda overseen by Laurens van den Acker, recently appointed vice-president of corporate design at Renault. In recent times, the trend has been for the Japanese and far-eastern manufacturers to invest heavily in hybrid technology. It was, after all, pioneered on a production scale by Toyota when they launched the first Prius in 1997, which seems a very long time ago now. Western companies, on the other hand, have traditionally taken a more conservative stance in regard to their drivetrains, preferring clean, efficient diesels that are cheaper to build and maintain buyer confidence. VAG have been hugely successful using this formula, and this is perhaps the reason why companies like PSA Peugeot Citroën have been forced to bring hybrid vehicles to market earlier than they perhaps would have liked, in an effort to compete.

Left Mazda CX-5 Whilst the CX-5 leaves a little to be desired from certain angles, overall proportions are solid. Right page Mazda's detail Interior is finished to a high standard though not quite enough to worry certain German brands.

Mazda’s argument is that the internal combustion engines used in most hybrids are, in reality, relatively inefficient. The result is that, in terms of both emissions and fuel economy, current hybrids are underperforming considerably. Their answer is SkyActiv – technology designed to maximise the efficiency of their combustion engines before any hybridisation occurs, a few years down the line. Sure, Mazda have joined the fight for a share of the eco market late, but maybe their delayed arrival has allowed them to be more circumspect (let’s not forget that Mazda have dabbled with hybrid technology in the past, with the ‘Tribute’). Mazda also believe that by 2020, 90% of the world’s cars will still use an ICE, and it’s in this 90% that Mazda want to contest.

The CX-5 is a far cry from the Tribute, in that you won’t immediately avert your eyes the first time you see one. Mazda’s new SUV has presence whilst lacking the overwhelming nature of cars such as Nissan’s Juke. It’s also very well proportioned, and this is reflected in that the CX-5 looks more resolved from side-on that any other angle. The car’s front graphic, whilst powerful, is slightly clumsy and looks angry, but almost slightly confused as to why. This is perhaps because the KODO design principles were not fully developed at the time when the CX-5 was penned. The front does, however, have some nice detailing, such as the metal grill-line running into the headlights and the pronounced double creases on the bonnet. Xenon headlights are standard on the ‘sport’ models.

The CX-5’s surface language also manages the juxtaposition of rigidity and agility, the best examples this are the arched fenders lines coming off the front wheels and the curved feature line above the side-skirts, which almost looks like a reference to the ‘squash’ line on Nissan’s INVITATION concept. SkyActiv technology will make its way into every single new Mazda from now, and will help each new model achieve an impressive 100kg weight reduction over the model it replaces, partly by using 60% high tensile steel for the body work. Further eco-features include a now widespread stop-start system that works fluently as well as entirely re-engineered 2.2litre diesel engine that’s capable of around 61mpg in the 150ps front-wheel drive model, not that we could have hoped to achieve that whilst navigating the severe contours of Skye. Mid-forties is a more realistic target. The headline figure surely belongs to this front-wheel drive model, which also achieves a faintly astonishing 119g/km CO2 emissions figure. That’s less many A-segment cars; let alone cars of the same ilk. The same 2.2-litre diesel unit is also available in a higher state of tune, putting out 175ps, as is a 2-litre petrol engine. The aforementioned 150ps diesel, however, really seems like the one to go for. Echoing the exterior’s admirably small shut lines, inside, the CX-5 feels like a quality product, which

shouldn’t come as a surprise as Mazda have really upped their game over the last decade. The cabin is typically driver focused too, with an excellent driving position and superb visibility compared to other cars in this class. This was something I was grateful for when traversing the ‘Bealach na Pa’ pass en route to Applecross – a single track road that reaches 2053ft, with precipices which will take you back to sea level faster than anything with an engine ever could. Breaking through the clouds, assaulted by driving rain and sleet, it was hard to imagine a more cosseting environment – spacious yet secure, and clad with high-quality grippy plastic and leather. Adding to this sensation of security was the CX-5’s chassis, which is surprisingly resistant to body roll and helps the car feels very sure footed – a quality that is only emphasised in the 4WD models. When the mood takes you, the CX-5, in any guise, will cover ground on any road swiftly and with minimal fuss. It’s this aspect of the car that was most impressive. The CX-5 represents a strong contender in a market dominated by the established SUV makers. Namely Nissan, BMW and now Range Rover. What Mazda bring to table, however, are class leading economy and emissions figures, on top a capable, grown up car, and although the smaller cars in Mazda’s line up are yet to be breathed on by SkyActiv technology, the prospect is certainly encouraging.



Porsche 911 Carrera

Porsche 911 Carrera

Rules are made to be broken

Words Hannah Macmurray/Richard Lane Photography Olgun Kordal


very once in a blue moon a car is designed in such a way that it becomes a cultural icon, a paradigm shifter. Think Mini, Fiat Cinquecento, or even VW Beetle; they have all recently been redesigned to perpetuate their legacy. The moment the original 911 was born in 1963, as a 2+2 replacement of the stunning 356, it became an icon…a very desirable one! Although the 911 has undergone design updates to keep up with the times, its innate beauty has never been quite so masterfully captured as model 991 has been by Michael Mauer, Head of Porsche Design, and his team. At a glance the design shift might not seem seismic, but upon closer inspection it is clear that there is so much design innovation going on that it will soon take its place in automotive history as an icon and trendsetter. Lets see why.

From the drawing board


here are very clear design changes that in, and of, themselves would simply seem like a capricious designer moving things around the sake of it; such as shifting the side view mirrors back onto the body ‘where they belong on a sportscar’ according to Mauer. This simple move, however, entirely integrates the interior driving experience with the exterior, a rare thing, as the voluptuous shoulders are constantly in view to be admired and adored. Also moved are the headlights, down and out, and daytime running lights that are integrated into the air intakes bring the face of the car into visual contact with the tarmac. It is as if Mauer’s team was given a chance to unleash the 911’s pedigree DNA and allow it to evolve into a superefficient Bauhausian form. Nothing is superficial; the rear is a clear example. Where there was a clear dissection of parts, wing, lights, and rear window, there is now one chamfered line that pulls the viewers eye from the massive wheel arch round the back to the opposite wheel arch accentuating width and stance. Beneath this line sit high-tech taillights, radically narrower that the

997, that are housed within another highly sculpted form that is allowed to have the slightest of frivolity…a slight swoosh pointing to each other. The wings, front and rear, have been enriched to give the car back a muscular tension that had been lost as its size increased over the years. Yet, this curvature is tempered, so as not to become fancy, by a ‘precision edge’ that runs the long of the roofline and down the rear creating that streamline sports Porsche character. The new 911 is no longer a compact sports car, it has grown (find out more below) into its own legacy’s footsteps, worthy of the name ‘Porsche’. Michael Mauer has also grown into his role as Head of Design and has an acute understanding of its heritage without allowing this to blur his beautiful vision for some of the most beautiful cars in the world. We will not be surprised if he finds himself in ten years mentioned alongside names such as Bruno Sacco and Marcello Gandini, if the 911, Boxster, and 918 are anything to go by. The 991 is one car that you will actually prefer to observe, at length, while its static rather than racing, much like a work of art. Left Porsche 911 Carrera The devil’s in the detail with the new 911. Pay attention. Right page Carrera The front graphic reeks of composure. Perhaps a knowing grin too.

Behind the wheel


hen Porsche released the 993 Turbo in 1995, I can clearly remember wondering whether it was mechanically possible to attach larger wheels to a performance car. The turbine-style alloys looked colossal, and their size was reflected in the car’s ride, which felt as if the chassis was made of granite. Seventeen years later, and the current batch of 911’s, somewhat confusingly codenamed 991, will typically be adorned with now standard 20-inch alloys – a full 2-inches more excessive than on 911’s of the mid-nineties. Of course, our voracious appetite for larger wheels has been, byand-large, driven by vanity, but having experienced these enormous wheels on British roads recently in a 3.8-litre Carrera S, the 911’s ride is more cultured that you would ever credit a ‘grassroots’ sports car with, and overall the 991 is faster than the frankly brutal 408bhp 993 Turbo. Times have changed, in other words. The new 911 is also considerably larger than any of its forebears; with a wheelbase that’s 4-inches longer even than its direct predecessor, the 997. It also has seven gears, even in manual models (a world first), and the centre stack is lifted directly from the statelier and generally more laid back Panamera. It’s clear, then, that this new 911 is a disciple of a vaguely different philosophy to 911’s past. We took a PDK-equipped 3.4-litre Carrera clad with (more reasonable) 19inch wheels to find out more.

The arrival of a new 911 is always heralded by two questions: “how does it drive?” and, “how does it look?”. The answer to the later is ‘very good indeed’. Chief Designer, Michael Mauer, and his team have undoubtedly been helped by the Porsche engineers’ request for a wider front axel (2.1-inches wider), but even so, there’s no denying that the 991 looks more purposeful than the 997 it replaces and the car’s overall design emphasizes that oldest of Porsche design traits: poise. As is often the case with Porsche, however, the beauty of a new 911 is far from skin deep, and this time it’s no different. By reducing the piston stroke, the Carrera’s flat six has fallen from 3.6-litres to 3.4litres, and whilst power is up a fraction to 350bhp, a number of measures have been taken to improve the car’s eco credentials, starting with materials. Half the battle against fuel consumption is weight, and as a result around half of the body is constructed

from lightweight aluminium, whilst many component parts are made from magnesium as well. Overall, our PDK-speced Carrera weighs approximately 50kg less than the outgoing model, which represents a significant achievement for a car that’s grown throughout. In fact, this Carrera weighs in at just over 100kg heavier than a new Golf GTi (but whilst Golf’s are getting heavier, 911’s are getting lighter). The new 991 also features stop-start technology, as well as something Porsche have coined ‘sailing’. Sailing disengages the engine from the transmission when the driver takes their foot off the throttle, thus allowing revs to fall to idling levels and saving fuel. The system is effective to the point that you’ll not notice it unless already made aware of its existence. It’s also touted to save as much as a litre of fuel every 60-or-so mile. The spec sheet rates the standard Carrera’s combined fuel economy at 32mpg, but at a steady motorway

pace we managed an almost implausible 38mpg. This from a car that will crack 60mph from rest in less than 4.5 seconds and reach nearly 180mph when the road/weather/driver’s sanity permits. During a round trip to North Wales on a mixture of roads with varied driving styles the Carrera averaged just over 29mpg, which earns it a concrete stamp of approval from us. And so does the driving experience. There’s no doubt that this 911 has grown up rather a lot. It’s more settled than the 997 on any road surface and an accomplished motorway cruiser too. Don’t kid yourself, however, that Porsche have eliminated tire roar, they haven’t. There has also been a lot written about the decision to ditch the 997’s much-loved hydraulic steering system, and replace it with a lighter, more efficient electromechanical setup. Push-on in the 991 and you’ll feel the difference without too much difficulty, but whilst driving north up the wonderful A543 towards Llyn Brenig it didn’t matter a jot. The 991 goes, stops and corners beautifully, and any reservations or loss of confidence you may (or may not) experience near the limit are more to do with misplaced nostalgia than any mechanical discrepancies. 911’s, with their powerplants slung out back, will never have the inherent balance of a mid-engined sports car, but this latest 911 feels more sure-footed than ever before and really inspires confidence when pushing on. The downsized 3.4-litre flat-six delivers it peak torque and power higher up the rev range than previous models, but despite a very slight lack of torque at lower revs, it’s still a fantastically flexible and charismatic powerplant. Equipped with the Porsche Sports Exhaust, it’s a treat for anyone with a soft spot for these engines, and mutates from ‘bellow’ to ‘wail’ as you demand more and more revs. Porsche were never going to miss a beat with this one. The 911 is revered worldwide and the Stuttgart-based outfit have had the measure of their target market for many years now. The real achievement has been to develop a focused sports car that, from bumper to bumper, is more efficient and environmentally friendly that the majority of hot-hatches seen on British roads. The upshot is that blinding performance and real-world economy are no longer mutually exclusive. 991 is a different type of car to its forebears, but is that to its detriment? Absolutely not.



Interview with Mark Adams

Interview with Mark Adams Vice President of Design, GM Europe Words Hannah Macmurray Photography Olgun Kordal


eet Mark Adams, uber Design Chief of GM Europe! As the Ampera wins one accolade after another and launches in the UK we thought we should pick his brains on what the future of green car design holds starting with the seemingly left-field decision to create the Rak-e. It turns out he truly believes that positive, green, electrifying change will come to cities around the world and is determined that it not be boring, cookie-cutter change. We find out how far and how fun building the RAK-e was and where it will take Adams and his team in the years to come. Green Car Design : Why did you choose to use Kiska to help you build/design the Rak-e? It seems like a total break away from your day-to-day design routine… Mark Adams : Absolutely! I think that the whole point about electrification of the automobile is starting to build momentum and clearly, as was shown with Ampera winning Car Of the Year, we have got a fantastic core product for our brand that really delivers a mainstream execution. What we wanted to keep building on was all of the other legs of urban mobility and electrification that support our brand message as well. So, we were looking at city centres now, more city centres are starting to put up, if not physical barriers, there are sort of this psychological barriers of ‘stay out…you are

polluting our cities’. Even things like the London Congestion Charge hinder movement and many other cities are picking that up so it’s really sort of pushing out the normal automobile. I guess in the future we see that’s going to magnify, so we are starting to look at how can you create something that is truly much smaller, almost compact around the driver and maybe the occupant. But how can we do something that is super efficient, very light weight, full electric, zero emissions, but also fun to drive? And also gives you this flexibility to not have to just stay in the city because some of these concepts are very much focused on only city driving and you can never go out on the open road. We said we want something that if you had a long commute, lets say 30 miles from outside of a city to a city centre; you can go on fast roads too. That’s when we came up with this concept (points to the Rak-e) that could be fast enough at the right point to keep up even with Autobahn traffic but to feel like a cross between a car and a motorbike to get in the fun aspect of a motorbike and sense of freedom and compactness. In fact, the original concept was a three-wheeler but that didn’t give us the driving dynamic and stability that we also wanted so we created this four wheel concept but it has a very special four wheels, the two wheels at the back are very close together. Our whole philosophy was about how you can simplify the car to reduce the weight but still be stable and dynamic.

The Rak-e has a very unique braking system that is only on the axle that drives the wheels, and it’s a solid axle because of the distance between the wheels so you can get away with it…so its very clever thinking.

the cockpit there’s the line a that does a little bit what the Meriva does, it dips down before it runs up and that was done again because when we sat in the back of this package bath originally the belt line was here (holds hand almost to shoulder) and I was like seat here (lowers hand), beltline here GCD : Did Opel do all the research or did Kiska do (raises hand) that doesn’t feel good. We took some it? tape and figured out that if the belt line is here then the seat needs to be here but at least you can see MA : The engineering mule was done totally at left and right and it feels more open. Again, its not Opel. So when it was a three-wheeler and when just styling its true design, its problem solving. it had the fundamental concept that was done at Opel. Where we tied in with Kiska was we wanted GCD : Its very personal…it resonates with the ENV, to tie in with someone who had the other half of there is a lot of invaluable research gained in the the business expertise where they have expertise process right? in motorbikes. MA : Absolutely, I am convinced this type of vehicle GCD : Its seemed like fun! A unique experience… is going to happen. There is going to be a need for this type of vehicle. It’s a matter of when! MA : Definitely, I can remember when I went to review the package and we were picking the final GCD : How does it (Rak-e) fit is the market? What seating package. As you can imagine getting a kind of segment does it fall under? two-seater concept in that vehicle was a super difficult challenge so we created, literally a wooden MA : Because of the weight and the scale of the bath-tub with wooden stringers and I sat in the thing its classified as a quad bike. Effectively it fits back and said ok ‘lower the wooden stringer until it in a unique positioning, but we want to think about touches my head’. When it touched my head I said it a little bit more. Yes, ok, the classification of the that’s it, that’s the centre line of the car…it was car could be quad-bike but what we wanted to also literally like that, we set it around real parameters. achieve was a bit more like automotive safety type We didn’t want this second seat to be something standards so if you look at it the thinking behind crazy squeezed in, it needed still to have the per- it is to protect the passengers as well, we didn’t ception of space and fit with our values of what we want it to be as exposed as a motorbike we wanted believe are important for our brand. to have much more automotive car-like safety but within a more bike-like environment. It’s a really GCD : That must be rare these days because unique feeling when you sit in this vehicle and the everything is so calculated, and it shows in the canopy comes down you feel like ‘uuuh’ (worried design, its new and fresh, and free. face), but once its down its an amazing feeling because you never have a 360 degree view, unless MA : I mean, even when it comes to the final you are on a bike, and this is what you have. You thing…one of my guys did the sketch that I really are sitting down low, you are almost in a go-kart love…it’s the one I picked, it had the feel of what position, you are in a fighter cockpit, it’s a strange we wanted to achieve rather than every design environment and it makes it fun! It’s actually really answer. I can give you an example, if you look at fun to drive! It puts a smile on your face…

GCD : I can see! Where does it go next? MA : We are seriously still investigating about doing something for real. We have a lot of work to do yet before we get to the point of pressing the button but as I say the most difficult thing about this vehicle is not actually being able to do that (point to the concept) its being able to do it at the right time.

show cars are not always about brining home that vehicle, its about changing a culture or influencing things internally and I would say that RAK-e actually influenced our internal team a lot in the way it makes us think. We are going to be doing some other things that are more ‘real’ but some of the thinking and some of the changing of attitudes are all about doing this vehicle.

GCD : Have Renault timed the Twizy well?

GCD : That makes me smile, because the whole purpose of GCD is to propose another way of thinkMA : Yeah, but I mean its early days yet. I would ing about cars…it’s a mind shift. say right now the political environment, if you are talking about Germany as a classic case, the accept- MA : That’s been the thing, either more mainance and the way the political environment is set stream cars have been electrified or the other end up its not really set up to accept electric vehicles of the spectrum is more the golf cart type of menproperly yet. Other countries are more accepting, tality and that has a stigma attached to it which the Netherlands, for example, is embracing electri- is a negative stigma so again the whole thinking fication. We wanted to explore because we truly behind this one was to create something that was believe there will be an opportunity. Sometimes cool, it does all of the things but its just cool!


Right Mark Adams Opel’s Rake hit the headlines at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. It’s not hard to see why.


Interview with Michael Mauer Head of Design, Porsche AG Words Richard Lane Photography Olgun Kordal


ar design is subjective. So subjective, in fact, that it’s often impossible to get even just a handful of people to agree whether a particular car is merely attractive or not. Even Formula 1 cars, the most functional of vehicles, have a degree of form nestled somewhere inside their largely scientific exterior. One particular design, however, seems to be more contentious than the rest – that of Porsche’s somewhat venerable 911, a car scrutinized bumper to bumper every time a new generation hits the roads. Is it merely a ‘squashed Beetle’ or a beautiful, teardrop-shaped missile that leaves everything behind in a beautifully crafted wake? As a result, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the man responsible for the way the new 911 (and Boxster, and Panamera, and 918 Spyder….) looks would be an imposing, even bullish, sort of character with a thick skin and stubbornness to match. However, on meeting Michael Mauer, Porsche’s Head of Design, it quickly becomes apparent that this it is not the case. The former Mercedes and Saab designer, on first impression, possesses an easy-going, benign manner that belies the

Interview with Michael Mauer

pressure he’s under to design the most successful, and arguably beautiful, sports car the world’s ever known. Don’t be mistaken, Michael Mauer’s no shrinking violet, more an iron fist in a velvet glove. Green Car Design caught up with him at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Green Car Design : Why design, was it something that you had always wanted to do? Michael Mauer : Actually, I didn’t know what I should do when I finished school and I didn’t have any plans for the future. It was my dad who combined my best talents – sketching and a love of cars – and told me that there was a profession called ‘car design’. So he put it together, found out that you could study this and organized an internship for me. GCD : At Porsche you’ve got a 5-model core lineup, 6 including the Macan, that share the same design DNA. Are we going to see Porsche design breaking away or splintering from the current mould? MM : If you’re talking about big, big change, then the answer is no. We believe in a strong brand identity and strong product identity and therefore believe that we need a strong design DNA. I think this is part of the success of Porsche, that they always manage to keep the new models fresh but stick to their brand identity. If you look at the new Boxster and Carerra, we have introduced a lot of new elements. When it comes to the surface treatment for example, we have these crisp lines and I strongly believe that we are further developing our design language, but we do it step by step. We’re a lit bit more progressive on the Panamera and a little bit more evolutionary on the 911, but we won’t do any 180-degree turns. GCD : Talking of the 911, they’ve always looked very planted on the road; it’s a core characteristic. Do you think that you’ve finally perfected the width to height ratio? MM : We have a very clear and defined process with three major steps, and the first step is deal-

MM : The superior performance of the new Boxster – with an increase of up to 10 hp as well as being up to 15 per cent more fuel-efficient – presented the designers with a more creative challenge to implement the additional technical requirements, including aerodynamic performance. We transferred these requirements into design elements like the new rear spoiler concept with an extending wing, which is responsible for the downforce at the rear axle. Our goal was to realize an improvement in aerodynamics in a very attractive way. The rear spoiler is the best example: the integrated sepGCD : There’s now a very distinctive aration edge now incorporates the new ridge between the rear spoiler and the LED tail lights. This is both a trend-setrear bumper on the new Boxster. What’s ting and very attractive solution. the idea behind this and can we expect GCD : I think it’s fair to say that Porsche to see it on other models in the range? are far more advanced when it comes to ing with the proportions of the car – its basic architecture. I strongly believe that many car companies underestimate this part of the process and we put a lot of time and effort into this. The predecessor (997) already had pretty good proportions but since we worked so hard I think we’ve improved them. Just a few millimetres make such a big difference – a slightly wider track on the front, a little bit lower, and you could say the overall dimensions are almost the same but the impression of the car is completely different. It’s the same with the Boxster.

Right Porsches’ details A new rear crease for the 911, whilst the Boxster receives a full-bore spoiler. Below Mauer’s Boxster displays a newfound maturity that moves it closer to the 911 and further away from its softer origins.

green technology than many other manufacturers that offer similar levels of performance. When designing cars, what considerations do you give to green credentials? MM : First let me say that we don’t start the design process with the goal: ‘Let’s design a green car’. But, of course, the efficiency idea always was and remains the primary and essential driving force at Porsche when developing a new automobile. And that’s true not only for the design. GCD : You’re understandably very proud of the 1996 Mercedes SLK, but you’ve penned a few significant designs since, notably the 918 Spyder, what’s your greatest achievement? MM : Every car I designed, whose development process I joined, was a personal achievement for me and I am very thankful for these very positive experiences I’ve had. Today, the new Porsche Boxster really makes me proud. It is still recognisably a Boxster, but every line and angle has become sharper and more dynamic. Never before in the history of the Porsche Boxster was a change of generation so clearly apparent at first glance. We worked on the proportions so the new Boxster cuts a very elegant but also muscular silhouette. Another factor contributing to its sportier appearance is that the body is a mere 32 millimetres longer than before, while at the same time the overhang at the front has been reduced by 27 millimetres – with the result the Boxster remains the compact mid-engined roadster it always has been. GCD : Finally, automotive design is a difficult industry to get into. Do you have any advice for young designers?” MM : In my opinion, now is the best time for young designers and alumni to make an application. Design gains more importance because it is an eminent reason for buying something - especially in the automotive industry. And we are always in search of young and talented designers. So my advice is: be creative, have visions and surprise us with new and innovative ideas.



Geneva Motor Show 2012 Review

Geneva Motor Show 2012 Review

Words Richard Lane Photography Olgun Kordal


his year’s Geneva Motor Show saw some big reveals with some even bigger engines. Ferrari, Bentley and Lamborghini all revealed cars with V12 powerplants and, accompanied by a host of other thirsty performance cars from the like of Mercedes and Audi, memories of 2011’s eco-oriented show seemed to be long gone. Enter Infiniti, Pinifarina and even Morgan. All revealed cars of pace, inspiring style (if it ain’t broke,

don’t fix it in Morgan’s case), and low, if indeed any, emissions. The Infiniti Emerg-e, arguably the most impressive of the entire green contingent, even has a good chance of making it to production too. Additionally, before the show even began the Vauxhall Ampera had won the European Car of the Year award by an absolute landslide. Below are some of the most talked about designs in the ‘green’ sphere.



ery much a luxury cruiser, Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina’s latest creation is powered by 79bhp electric motors on each wheel and is good for up to 125 miles using only electric power. It has, unsurprisingly, been likened to an eco-conscious Maserati. Pininfarina describe this concept as a new approach to luxury in a car, and whilst there is plenty to talk about the exterior, the Cambiano’s interior design is the real deal. Getting inside is interesting in it’s own right – the driver’s side has one door but the passenger side has two, à la Hyundai Veloster. Once inside, you’re greeted by a myriad of recycled and reused materials – the main

event being the wooden floor made from the recycled oak poles used in Venice to designate moorings. Furthermore, much of the upholstery is natural and imitation leather and panels are wrought from polylactic acid, a plastic derived from sugar and milk serum, which reduces the use of petroleum. The Cambiano is starting to sound more like the Fisker Karma than a Maserati. Other features include a panoramic roof that varies between translucency and transparency as well as a unique lighting system that exploits light channels inserted into the ceiling. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, the generator in the front of the car is powered by diesel.



uilt on a Ford Focus platform, the V40 will replace the now slightly bland S40 and its estate derivative, the V50. In terms of Volvo’s model lineup, the V40 addresses the problem caused by the lack of a 5-door C30, which has hindered Volvo as competitor to Audi’s A3 and the BMW 1-series. Chris Benjamin, the man responsible for the V40’s sweeping exterior design, describes the V40 as a “dramatic new statement” and it’s fair to say that it looks far more lithe in the metal than in any of the pre-show press shots. The V40 also looks far more consummate than a C30 with two extra doors squeezed in could ever have. The V40 is also impressive in that Volvo have really moved their design forward whilst staying true to the hallmarks of their modern design language. The strong shoulder line we’ve come to expect from Volvo is still apparent, although more to the tune of the V60 than the C30 and there’s a rising rear window line that leads nicely into the C-pillar and belies the V40’s considerable size for this segment. Aside from an undulating front air-intake that runs the width of the bumper, the front of the V40 is relatively conservative – it’s the contoured rear that’s the most striking. A more exaggerated design sees the rear window glass extend further down the boot-lid, mimicking the C30, and wraparound rear lights exaggerate the V40’s width and assured stance. The aesthetics aren’t skin deep either. The cabin feels intimate, losing the Spartan approach of Volvo interiors past – something endemic in the C30. Furthermore, the V40 represents a further step for pedestrian safety with an airbag in the bonnet, a world first. Well, it was going to be either them or Saab….



ith salient lines and a colour scheme rivaled in conspicuity only by Bertone’s Nuccio concept (incidentally the same colour), the INVITATION caught a lot of attention on the show floor for many of the right reasons. Leaving caps lock on, however, wasn’t one of them. There’s symmetry to the INVITATION that has been lacking in recent Nissan designs, notably the Juke, and this is as much due to the little details as it is to the overall shape. Notice how the headlights use two solid lines and the rear lights use three and the way the car’s roofline rises almost imperceptibly at the rear? Balance. The concept’s surfaces are also tighter and less superfluous than models in the range that the production version will eventually join, and join it will. Unlike many manufacturers, Nissan’s concepts often come through to production relatively unscathed – look to the Quashqai or Juke for a case in

point. Not all is zen on the INVITATION as there seems to have been an argument over how the area between the C-pillar and beltline meet that looks tense and unresolved. “It’s very dynamic in its looks and that’s not by accident, that’s by design,” said Michael Auliar, Nissan Europe’s Product Manager for small cars, on the INVITATION’s turntable show stand before revealing that Nissan aim for all production variants to put out less than 120 g/km CO2 emissions. “It also uses Nissan’s advanced engine technology and our new V-platform technology to deliver strong fuel efficiency,” added Auliar. In case you were wondering about the distinct arrow-shaped line adorning the side of the INVITATION, Nissan call it the ‘squash’ line. The reason being that it traces the trajectory of a squash ball bouncing off a wall…simple as that.



hree years ago Infiniti revealed the Essence concept, which was a petrol-electric hybrid sports car. Whilst Essence was exciting to look at, it was very much in the mould we were used to from Infiniti. Emerg-e is different. It’s the first time Infiniti has built a car in style of a traditional supercar, and as first-attempts go in this industry it’s a staggering achievement aesthetically. Moving the twin electric motors from in front of to just behind the cabin has allowed Shiro Nakamura and his design team to taper the front of the Emerg-e beautifully, and the side of the car is characterized by a feature line that extends from the front grill, up the bonnet and over the wheel arch before falling towards an air intake on the rear haunches. This, says Infiniti’s Communications Director Wayne Bruce, has been designed to express the allusion



TI EMERG-E of a long bonnet – something alien to mid-engined cars. One of the features carried over from the Essence concept are the ‘crescent cut’ C-pillars which look fantastic on the Emerg-e and the headlights, inspired by the eyes of a Japanese god, flaunt the new headlight graphic for Infiniti production cars. So far so good. Although the vehicle at Geneva was only a fragile 20mph model, Infiniti are currently working on two running prototypes that will be capable of holding their own against everything this side of a 911. Interestingly, Infiniti have had to use a mid-engine platform supplied by Lotus, a partner of theirs for a long time and so the Emerg-e is in fact a close sibling to the Evora 414E. It would be fantastic to see Infiniti carry the electric supercar flame now that the Tesla Roadster is on hiatus.

oyota’s quirky looking FT-Bh concept is very much in the same vein as the aforementioned Nissan INVITATION; it weighs just 800kg and is designed to compete in the B-segment. It, too, has a very low drag-coefficient of just 0.235 (bear in mind that the slippery looking Emerg-e’s coefficient is 0.34) that allows it to move through the atmosphere like a hot knife through butter. The two silhouettes are similar as well. The FT-Bh, however, definitely has more a ‘concept’ feel about it. The prevalent design feature is a lattice theme, which can be found all over the car; from the smaller, delicate lattice on the arching rear lights and front bumper to the augmented, more abstract interpretation of the dashboard and

biconcave shaped display behind the steering wheel. Where the FT-Bh differs drastically from the INVITATION is its paneling. Absent are the taut lines of the Nissan and instead the Toyota designers have opted for large, seamless surfaces that elegantly contrast the latticed areas. What the photos won’t convey are the proportions of the FT-Bh. It’s around the same size as its stable-mate, the Prius, but you wouldn’t think it to look at it. It seems much smaller and more compact. This could be due to its relatively long wheelbase in relation to its overall length, which leaves precious little overhang at each end. This compactness doesn’t project through to the interior however, and that must be judged as a success for Toyota.



he i-oniq concept, like the Toyota FT-Bh, is also a car that feels as though it should be larger - after the pre-show press shots, a Cayenne-sized shooting brake was expected. In reality, the i-oniq resembles a lowered VW Golf Plus dimensionally, albeit much, much easier on the eye. A potential criticism, however, is that the i-oniq is a little too vague with its styling, something that the multi-spoke wheels and corresponding front grill try to apologize for. Hyundai describes the i-oniq’s shape as “functional”. Debatable! Nonetheless, the pretty concept continues Hyundai’s “fluidic sculpture” design language and comes complete with doors that are halfway between ‘scissor’ and ‘gullwings’, hinging on the A-pillar, as well as a unique boot-lid mechanism that operates from the roof. The i-oniq also features a targa-esque roof, where the windscreen extends back over the drivers head towards the rear boot hinge. The cosseting cabin features ‘lounge’ area in the back which Hyundai claim creates a positive con-

trast to the sports-oriented front area. ‘Mundane’ may be harsh, but for a show car that is purely conceptual, the i-oniq’s interior doesn’t offer much imagination. It’s a nice place to be, but so is the cabin of a production 5 Series. Whilst the i-oniq itself won’t make it to production, it’s hybrid powertrain, or a derivation of it, probably will.



his intermediate mode is called “top mode”. In this mode the doors, which are made from slats (much like those on a bed), are pulled up from the floor whilst the windows operate via a similar procedure except from the roof. Additionally, the rox has a fabric roof (for which there will be a number of designs, unsurprisingly) that broadens the runabout’s versatility further still – fabric windows and covering can be brought down or tied up on both the sides and the back of the rox. A final variation, where the fabric cover is completely removed, sees the rox turn into what is probably the only rival for the Smart For-us concept. This does, however, leave the some-

what unsightly metal framework on display. In the metal, the rox seems a little more graceful than its siblings and with details like the hanging head and rear lights and the surfboard-esque shoulders that run down the side of car (interrupted only by the slatted door) the rox has a lot to offer visually. The rox could in time prove an extremely astute move from Messers Günak and Wilkie. Should it make production, the rox will be relatively quick and cheap to produce as, with a few notable exceptions, it shares its core construction with the mia electric. The emphasis is on the word ‘core’ as the rest of the rox is, of course, interchangeable.



icknamed V+, this resemblance to a golf-buggy is a collaboration between Volteis, a French electric vehicle manufacturer owned by the Electric Car Company, and Philippe Starck, designer and architect. Starck has successfully tried his hand at a number of disciplines, and is famous for his yachts (“A”) and furniture amongst others. Now he has



esla’s second car has finally afforded Franz von Holzhausen and his team the indulgence of of creating their own design from a blank canvas. There’s an obvious lack of design cues shared between Model S and the Roadster and more shared family traits between the Model S and Model X - alas

added a car to his illustrious portfolio. Born out of recognition of the inappropriate use of vehicles, the Volteis is conceived very much as an alternative. STARCK describes it as a “light, desirable, minimalist answer for those who are looking to travel aptly, differently”. Designed with warmer climates in mind, the Volteis features a panoramic windscreen, a plaited front basked and a cast aluminium frame that keeps the weight at 736kg. Starck’s view is that designers are creating electric cars that fit the mould of high performance internal combustion engined cars. Seeing as electric cars neither travel at the same high speeds or long distances that ICE cars do, then why should they be face the same design constraints? Hence the Volteis is fairly unconventional. Or does it demonstrate what the convention should be? The Volteis will retail at around $40,000. Not cheap, but with very few moving parts at least maintenance bills are likely to be minimal.

the birth of Tesla’s very own design language. The ‘Signature Red’ example on display in Geneva really served to highlight how magnificently well proportioned the Model S is. Much like what BMW achieved with the E36 3-Series for the coupe format, Tesla has really epitomized the saloon/sedan form with the Model S. The entire design has simplicity to it that’s rarely seen today, just consider the Germanic and French manufacturers for reference, and the front is characterized by an inverted clam-shaped grill and sharp shut lines on the bonnet that flow into the A-pillars. The entire stance of the Model S is one of equanimity. Does this come from naïveté or experience? Time will tell. The interior is dominated by an enormous, 17-inch touchscreen display that is Wi-Fi enabled and high resolution. Panels are finished in wood and leather and although the fit isn’t of the same caliber as the established European marques. Bearing in mind that the model on show was in Beta state, 80% production-ready, and build quality is an ongoing process and Tesla as a brand is in it’s infancy things are certainly looking good so far.



Beijing Auto Show 2012 Review

Beijing Auto Show 2012 Review

Words/Photography Guy Bird


hen your total vehicle market tops 18.5 million – cementing China’s position as the world’s largest sales territory – it’s bound to create a lot of interest from carmakers that want a slice of it. And despite the end of Government incentives fueling that huge final figure in the smaller budget car segments, the Chinese market overall is still growing, especially on the luxury side. The region is now Ferrari and Cadillac’s second most important market and Bentley’s biggest. Unsurprisingly then, China’s largest annual car show in 2012 – Beijing’s Auto China – attracts the most international interest as another crucial marketing (and sales) opportunity for Western brands to present their latest products to Chinese consumers as well as a shop window for domestic Chinese car brands to reveal their progress as they prepare to

export to more mature Western markets. Of the 120 global unveils, big brands like Mercedes (Concept Style Coupe), BMW, Citroen and VW (E-Bugster Cabriolet) all chose Beijing to launch cars for the first time. There were dozens of seemingly close-to-production concepts from Chinese domestic brands too, but eco themes didn’t seem that high on any brand’s agenda – despite the traffic chaos and pollution for all to see outside Auto China’s show halls (see our forthcoming Beijing City Watch for more on this). However, there were still some interesting green-themed cars and pronouncements, sometimes from the most unlikely of sources, including an Italian supercar maker turned SUV provider with a penchant for bulls... Read on for Green Car Design’s 2012 Beijing auto show highlights…

Left Chery Concept TX Small SUV has futuristic flare whilst BMW Right BMW i8 Spyder took a bold step by revealing the i8 Spyder Concept at the show!



itroen’s upmarket DS sub-brand is gaining momentum. With 200,000 already sold worldwide from three models (DS3, DS4 and the just launched DS5) it announced plans for another three models with the Numéro 9 concept informing their looks – especially in its new ‘fused’ headlamp and grille front face. Head of advanced design, Carlo Bonzanigo, told Green Car Design that the Numero 9 is “a true concept and a design study”, rather than a marketing exercise to herald a production car already signed off. However, he did concede that his design team had already done an exercise to see how this concept could be made more feasible as he said its “generous proportions for the Chinese market” were perhaps a bit long and low for production (although at 4930mm, its actually shorter than Citroen’s current flagship the C6). There was no interior to show, but remember the exterior when those next-gen DS models arrive.

Concept DENZA EV


ercedes’ fledgling Chinese design studio – headed up by industry veteran Frenchman Olivier Boulay – is behind the new Denza concept that will become a production reality as early as next year. From the water-drop logo to the blue ambient lighting inside and out this full-electric model consistently reinforces its environmental message but also aims to be appealing, contemporary and comfortable for its intended Chinese middle class target market too. The rear area was apparently a particular focus with lounge-style seating able to recline with access via rear-hinged doors. All in all it’s a lot smarter and well designed than BYD’s rather mundane independent EV efforts to date, but the true test will come when we see the production model in 2013.



ell I never! Lamborghini’s thinking green? While you could be forgiven for thinking Bentley’s recent SUV concept (EXP 9F) was all about visual heft and its ability to carrying heavy and expensive people and their picnic baskets, over at sister brand Lamborghini its SUV seems to signal a greener agenda. To be fair, Lamborghini’s 2010 Sesto Elemento concept also promoted the idea of ruthless lightweight design as a way of reducing CO2 emissions, but what makes its new Urus concept in some ways more interesting is that a) it looks much closer to production and b) as it could equate to 3000 sales a year, rather than the ultra limited 20 Sestos slated for production, its weight reduction tactics will have a greater impact. Key to the technologies that Lamborghini says will make the difference are extensive use of carbon fibre both in the bodyshell and on the interior, where the central tunnel and bucket seats are made of Forged Composite and only clad in leather where necessary. Lamborghini reassures that 600hp and all-wheel drive will still be available for the production model due early 2016 though. Phew!



s mentioned above, there was a frustrating lack of information on what seemed to be the most innovative far-future concept from a Chinese domestic brand at Beijing in 2012. Which is a shame as Chery is one of the better-known Chinese brands and not short of ambition in its production sphere too. Case in point, despite being only founded 15 years ago in 1997, it’s recently signed a joint venture with Jaguar Land Rover to manufacture cars in China.

OTHER NOTABLE CONCEPTS: Great Wall Haval E Concept


cissor doors were employed in a similar way over at Great Wall to jazz-up the brand’s existing top-selling Haval SUV and suggest – alongside lots of blue lighting – a possible future electric version. Again, info on how real or otherwise this concept is, was hard to locate, but the marque is becoming serious in sales terms. Rare among Chinese brands for being privately owned, rather than Government-backed, Great Wall shifted nearly 400,000 vehicles in 2010 and is launching into mature Western markets like the UK this year with a budget pick-up.

Toyota Dear Qin & Yundong Shuangqing Concepts


nother Japanese brand quietly unveiling ideas in Beijing was Toyota. Two sedans and (most convincing of all) a smart acid green hatchback, show the way Toyota is pushing its new “keener look” under new global design boss Tokuo Fukuichi. All are said to be hybrids sporting looks scheduled to make production circa 2015 as quote “globally strategic models”. Smarter than expected.

Honda Concept S


his concept got little airplay, but its coherent exterior design heralds a new compact MPV that could go global. The S apparently stands for Stylish, Smart and Surprise (which it was, and in reference to the third word, a pleasant one) but there’s little

info on its eco credentials except that the intended powertrain will be a hybrid. Scheduled for sale in China through its JV Dongfeng Honda in 2013, a global launch is slated to follow.





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Ecovelocity Green Motor Show 2012


Ecovelocity Green Motor Show 2012

Words Richard Lane Photography Helen Stella


et against Battersea’s imposing Power Station last year’s Ecovelocity Green Motor Show set itself out to champion the cause for a brighter, cleaner motoring future. It was the first of it’s kind in this country, perhaps worldwide, and showcased the latest consumer cars as well as some more farfetched, exotic machines. This year’s show, however, migrated east to the Excel in London’s docklands. With a similar formula, visitors were able to test a range of eco

production cars and see a few of the eco-supercar old guard at the same time – notably theLightening GT and Delta E-4. There were, of course, several ‘last of the’Tesla Roadsters in attendance as well, but unfortunately, and disappointingly, no Model S. What was most striking was that the visitor was more interested in what wasn’t there rather than what was. Location, location, location - back at the same location of the former British International Motor Show, Ecovelocity simply lost its avant-garde flare and

central appeal. Not only this but it had also shrunk to fit the tail end of a rather dominating Grand Designs Show next door! After a somewhat deflating experience upon entering Ecoveloctiy’s diminutive plot, the show’s saving grace was undoubtedly the decent selection of full EVs and hybrids that were available for the public to drive, which went some of the way to making up for the lack of truly interesting metal on the stands and generally uninspiring layout. A test drive route that was suitably long (around 3.5 miles) with roundabouts, tight corners and a few straights gave visitor’s the opportunity to get to grips with cars such as Peugeot’s 508 RXH Diesel Hybrid (as well as it’s sister, theCitroen DS5 Hybrid), through to pure-electric cars such as the Nissan Leafand mia electric. Perhaps the most significant and appealing car for visitors was Vauxhall’s award-winning Ampera and it’s American counterpart, the Volt. After looking around for this year’s eco-supercar paddock, the realization came that a small roped of square was to be the extent of this year’s ‘exciting’ crop. Made up of just four cars, two of which were Teslas, the only real excitement came in the form of Opel’s otherworldly RAK e concept. That feeling that nobody really cared about the show was plain to see as the RAK e’s roof-pod couldn’t even be opened without the supervision of qualified personnel who clearly was nowhere to be seen! One of the main obstacles facing electric and, to a lesser extent, hybrid car sales is that they often fail to capture a prospective buyer’s imagination, and with the questionable attitude that many manufacturers have towards shows like Ecovelocity, it’s not going to get any easier. While we understand that the Battersea Station is a difficult venue to secure there are other options and having changed venue and dates several times perhaps its down to Giles Brown’s, Event Manager, poor judgment that Ecovelocity failed in such a big way. In the end, this year’s Ecovleocity was compromised as a motor show compromised on size and compromised on content - however, sadly the ultimate compromise was on visitor numbers.



New Bus for London Arrives (almost) on Time

New Bus for London Arrives (almost) on Time Words/Photography Richard Lane


erhaps more than most, the transport industry has a knack for presenting its inventions out of context. What I mean is, when a manufacturer decides to preview its latest product the location is meticulously calculated to complement the car, the road more often than not closed and every precaution is taken to ensure that nothing can come between the driver and the preordained ‘charms’ of the vehicle in question. Perfectly understandable, if not a little transparent. The scenario last week, however, could not have been much closer to reality as I waited outside North Wembley tube station on a typically dull, chill February afternoon for the arrival of the much-anticipated New Bus for London. The only operational New Bus for London, in fact. After a week’s delay, NB4L debuts today, albeit just a single number 38 bus between Victoria Station and Hackney. I wasn’t waiting for too long before the bus’s striking, asymmetric face appeared to pick me up. Already onboard was David Hampson-Ghani - TfL’s Project Manager for NB4L - who was all too happy to point out that there’s far more to this bus than meets the eye. Internally, NB4L is impressive. As Hampson-Ghani explains, “We didn’t send any exact specifications to WrightBus, we just sent them the specification for the economy and emissions. We didn’t specify hybrid or diesel, only that we wanted an economy of around 10.3 mpg.” What Northern Ireland based WrightBus actually came up with was a diesel-electric hybrid that surpassed TfL’s specifications to make NB4L, in basic terms, more efficient than any other comparable bus in the world.

The bus also boasts regenerative braking, but not the sort we’re used to in cars. “The first 90% of brake travel is regenerative, the last 10% is physical”, says Hampson-Ghani before elaborating, “So even where you’re using the brakes, you’re not actually using the discs”. Power delivery seemed linear and there a lack of the ragged jolts often experienced in current buses, so from a passengers perspective the system seems to be a success. What became apparent whilst rumbling along the by now dark streets of West London was how quiet NB4L is in comparison with the current buses, particularly on the top deck where the atmosphere was, dare I say it, refined. The philosophy when designing NB4L was very much one of weight saving. Smaller windows on the pavement side reduce weight, as do narrower windows than a conventional bus on the top deck. In regards the top deck windows, “This is as much

for weight saving and solar gain as it is for aesthetics. A lot of buses use the same size glass panels on the upper and lower decks, which makes them look disproportionately tall”, says Hampson-Ghani. Furthermore, each seat saves 2kg over the seats used in current buses and the entire rear end of the bus is made of the same lightweight fibre reinforced composite used in racing yachts. Unsurprisingly, this sets a precedent in public bus building. The New Bus for London concept was the first automotive project London-based Heatherwick Studio had ever undertaken. Initially, this was a difficult marriage with Wrightbus who have been designing buses for more than sixty years but the eventual success of the partnership is evidenced by NB4L’s interior. “The design is very controversial because we’ve got three doors and two staircases, this is to make sure we can get passengers on and off very quickly”.

Left New Bus for London Heatherwick brings back the romance of the rear bus stairwell with a modern twist echoed in the spiral window graphic on the exterior.

Hampson-Ghani stressed the point that reducing journey times is about speeding up the time buses spend at bus stops rather than the making the buses drive faster between them. It makes sense and when you consider that passengers will be able to get on and off at any of the three doors it’s hard to see why this will fail to work in practice. Public transport vehicles present a number of unique problems in regard to interior design. They have to work 365 days a year, and parts have be easily replaceable and resistant to vandalism. Whilst this reduced the creative scope for Heatherwick, they were given more autonomy than has been the norm in the past. “We allowed Heatherwicks to do things that we a TfL wouldn’t normally allow because they’re bringing a stylists perspective to it that TfL or another bus manufacturer would not have brought”, and NB4L certainly seems all the better for it. There’s continuity to the interior; it’s not as cramped as the current bus and the various design features are consistent with one another. Hampson-Ghani seems pleased with the outcome, “The important thing is that this bus has been designed from one concept, not a committee or from a catalogue and we think that the public will be able to recognise this”. The interior uses three predominant colours – red, grey and gold. The red and grey are used extensively on seat backs and the walls whilst the gold is used on the rails and acts as a contrast. The aim was to create a harmonious colour pallet without anything seeming random. Not as easy as it sounds when you consider the workload for the bus. As an illustration, the floor has got to be able to accept dirt without actually looking dirty. With pleasing references to the original Routemaster, most notably the open platform at the back, N4BL rolls out today and, as mentioned, will be on active duty between Victoria Station and Hackney. Just don’t forget your Oyster card.


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Milan Design Week

Milan Design Week Words/Photography Emma Clerici


eturn to origins‌the Salone del Mobile di Milano once again this year predictably was stormy, overcast, periodically sunny and on occasion moved by spontaneous gusts of wind. More or less the same unpredictable weather was reflected in the world of design below. On one side objects created by personalities, such as Rossana’s glasses, randomly appeared while others thought that the mere power of a brand name, in this case Moroso exhibiting but a single object, puts it in a position to initiate an entire design movement. Others, like Clino Castelli, Also Cibic, and an eight-year-old girl, found themselves under one roof in the Fabbrica del Vapore telling the story of innovation through pearl earrings and tables with extrusions in the form of a flower. However, the feeling of being in limbo persists while the age old question is asked yet again, what will be the trends of the future to which our living spaces and objects will we have to conform to? I would say that there was at least two reasonably clear trends in evidence this time around. The first is formal and can be summarized under the word "Reduction"; the second is more of a conceptual attitude towards industrial design rather than designed objects in and of themselves that I would call "Digital Crafts".

La Riduzione Reduction (less is less) The lightness seen during this salone was either minimalist by Nendo, or ironic at the hands of Gilad, yet always characterised by a defleshing of form and composition of the object. Forms are pure, materials natural and untreated, structures are put on show. Even the components of products are reduced, often opting for simple connections left exposed or open joints highlighting joining elements (screws, holes, plugs etc…). Even in such stripped back products the widespread use of hybrid materials, including dirtied transparencies, rubberised and mixed materials. Take for example Patricia Uquiola’s table designed for Budri on show at the Triennale with a marble top that slowly becomes resin based towards the corners while showing the structure that supports a metal mesh below. The interesting thing is that this table was displayed in an exhibition curated by Marmomacc, a brand that brings together companies who work and produce high-end marble. Similar situation for Iperbolica and Alessandro Ciffo’s seats, made in hyper-coloured silicone that seem inflated yet instead were simply filled with polyurethane foam. They are objects that deceive our senses, they reveal their true nature only if experienced and observed, they talk about their structure but mystify at the same time, overlapping materials, colours, and finishes different in themselves. In these cases reduction is a cognitive process of appropriation of the object, it is the user that defleshes the product by deconstructing it mentally first. Interiors, however, such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room are cosseted in wood, linen and cotton, felt and leather, granite, ceramics and metal in almost abstract forms that intuit hyper technology but in actuality are warm and natural. For example, Boffi had an interesting installation juxtaposing ultra modern and archetypal products made from Corian, ceramics and wood, with antiques and old and rusty seats. There were super nostalgic place settings composed of oxidised silver cutlery next to working surfaces made of superlight techno steel. One wonders whether the use of traditional materials, so durable and able to withstand weather and changes in tastes, doesn’t signal a need for stability in a time as precarious and confusing as ours is today.

L’Artigianato Digitale Digital Crafts (made by mouse) With Digital Crafts I mean all those objects self-produced thanks to 3D printing. The principle is quite simple: relying on third party semi-finished economical sheets of material, you choose a material and you print all the structural components and snap them together to build your model. Then connect everything with standard screws and gears, and if you have with you an Arduino processor and a printer that discharges plastic with a solidifying catalyst, you can complete your little homemade factory in just under half a cubic meter. At this point you program the computer to do it and you can build small objects without the help of any training. Milano’s Lambrate area was swarmed with these kinds of objects as could be seen in the collaborative exhibition between Audi and the Palazzo Clerici, small semiself-produced machines, capable of building physical plastic models. The beauty of these objects is in the irregular texture created as a result of continuous solidifying layers. Unfortunately the final products are very fragile and to make a simple juicer takes twelve hours! From this perspective this "Maker Facility" is hardly efficient, but perhaps the value lies in the fact that one can see to fruition one’s ideas here and now. If that immediacy is always a good thing is yet to be understood. In short, design, like the rest of us, is looking for new ways to grow by trial and error, it moved about Milan a little like an accidental tourist. As long as we are talking about creativity everything more or less worked, but once the concept of ‘industrialising’ ideas comes into play weaknesses soon become apparent. What is somewhat perplexing is that the old way of making beautiful objects for all was absolutely lacking, or at the very least is risking to be reduced to a kind of a pauper’s readymade attitude that honestly is a bit disheartening. In between the visual noise there were, however, some shining examples of beautiful ready made here and there: Tom Dixon produces lamps by numbers (and gives them away!), Ikea makes intelligent products accessible to all (at a price), and Merci Merci Paris donates (again money) its profits to charity thanks to the help of Paola Navone. The economy is flailing, industrial production has a malaise and even hypsters are not doing so well… What can we expect next year? Only time will tell!


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CDR Insight

CDR Insight Geneva 2012 Words Car Design Research Photography Olgun Kordal


he first of a new quarterly series of trend reports from the very capable and experienced heads at Car Design Research, CDR for people in the know, takes a look back at the prevailing and perhaps not so obvious trends that defined the Geneva Motor Show 2012. Naturally you can find out more about CDR at their website but suffice it to say that it doesn’t get more experienced than them. Established in 2000 by Sam Livingstone to cater to an increasing need from the automotive industry for experienced ‘objective’ design assesment and managment CDR has steadily grown in influence and now can name Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Fiat, Nissan, Pininfarina, Yamaha and Hyundai amongst its clients. Focusing on Contextual, Strategic, and Evaluation Services CDR is always at the design heart of the industry and keeps it relevant by researching consumer behaviour and trends worldwide. The Geneva Motor Show just closed its doors on the 2012 show but looking back it was clear that one macro trend we’re witnessing is a return to some of the aesthetic values of the 1980s. The red ‘pinstripe’ was everywhere in the halls of the Palexpo, showcasing a desire among both mainstream and premium manufacturers to differentiate their sport models further from the more luxury-orientated models within the range. The European markets aim at a new type of fashionable, boxy car; perhaps best represented by the new Fiat Panda, this car type combines the best aesthetic elements of both an MPV and SUV and makes utility cool again.

Left Nissan Cube is the quintessential embodiment of the ‘squircle’. Right page Citroën C3 Picasso breaks from its predecessor’s hatchback feel and embraces the square within.

Circling the square: The Fashionable Box A new ‘boxy’ car typology is emerging, that spans the A, B and C segment. European-market focused, these cars combine the best elements of both SUV and MPV forms. They step beyond the pure utility and starkness of the cars that created the genre – the Nissan Cube and Scion xB – by rounding off the square edges. The core appeal is utility befitting of a people carrier, but with the blown fender forms, planted four-square stance and matt black plastic cladding of an SUV. The first Scion xB, together with Nissan Cube, introduced a very new aesthetic. With little planshape or tumblehome, it epitomised ‘box on wheels’, first becoming cool in the US and Japan during the 90’s. Fiat’s new third generation Panda uses the ‘squircle’ as its core design theme and motif. The idea of the

squircle – a rounded square (or cube) – applies to all the cars here. It helps define a new aesthetic language for the practical and robust small car. Citroen C3 Picasso was significant for introducing this aesthetic within the B-MOV segment. Baring little visual relationship to C3 hatchback model, it has a relatively static, four-square stance. The flat beltline and DLO are significant contributors to it’s more box-like and tough aesthetic. Skoda Yeti is lower and more compact than a typical SUV, but captures much of the genre’s appeal. Hits the market sweetspot by being too aggressive, quite car-like in size and not overly tall, thanks to its cleverly-managed body-to-glass ratio. Graphics and details such as the roofrails lend an SUV-like rugged quality, core to its appeal.

Have you noticed? Stuff that caught our eye this month...

Back in fashion: Return of the Red Pinstripe During the 1980’s, a red pinstripe suit was an expression of sartorial elegance. Less fashionable today, the red pinstripe (a thin, red highlight line) has been picked up by car tuners to denote their sportier designs of alloy wheel. In car design, the red pinstripe is one trend that’s part of a much wider return to themes seen in the ‘80s. Red pinstripes truly burst back onto the scene at the 2012 Geneva motor show. Red pinstripes on the new 265 Trophy version of the Renault Sport Megane extend to the lower bumper aperture insert, rocker cover and alloy wheels. Of all the typologies on which we’d expect to find a red pinstripe , the ‘hot hatchabck’ is perhaps the most predictable. It’s more of a surprise to see red on a premium hatchback such as the new Mercedes A-class. The red detailing on the front and rear bumper inserts on sport versions of the car are indicative of a trend by premium manufacturers to broaden the identities within their ranges between traditional luxury and sport variants. The red highlight used on the daylight running light (DRL) blade in the Audi A1 Quattro is conceptually new. It gives the car’s eyes an even more menacing, aggressive look – a clue to the model’s performance intent and a subtle differentiator from lesser models. BMW has also employed red pin striping to denote the sport version of both the new 1 and 3-Series. Less apparent on the exterior, red pin striping is used inside on the IP, seat stitching and even extends to the key fob on sport models.

Maserati and Rolls-Royce both chose to say it with flowers at this year’s Geneva show. What they were saying was ‘premium’. Clean, calm, pure, warm cream tones present a very high quality image. Textures and gradients are the less-obvious story of the Peugeot 208 interior – with a door handle finish that graduates from silver to piano- black effect, and speak grilles with fading pixilation to their outer edge. Pininfarina didn’t just employ any old wood in the Cambiano concept shown in the Palexpo. Instead, the concept’s door and floor finishes were made from reclaimed timber piles – the ones previously used to hold up the city of Venice, no less! Volvo’s authentically Swedish-feeling stand was augmented by a projected fire and flint-like stonewall, creating a cosy lounge-like area. Car Design Research is the UK providing design research services for design, product planning and marketing groups of car companies and related creative practices. For more information email info@ See more of CDR at www.



Rimac Concept_One

Rimac Concept One A new breed of supercar Words Richard Lane


lectric. Performance. Two words that don’t often go hand in hand. Yes, cars such as the Tesla’s Roadster spring to mind, and maybe the Lightening GT or Wrightspeed X1 (for the connoisseurs amongst you). But whilst they’re all fast – very fast – none of them are fast enough to really give the gas-guzzling fraternity a bloody nose. In fact, none of these cars will see off even a 911 GT3,

let alone a Koenigsegg. So, it looks like quad-exhausts are still very much the order of the day for rubber-based adrenaline junkies. Led by 24-year-old entrepreneur and CEO Mate Rimac, however, the engineers inside Rimac Automobili’s Croatian skunkworks beg to differ. What you’re looking at is Concept_One; it will do 0-60mph in 2.8s and 190mph at full chat. Right.

Fully charged, the liquid-cooled 92kWh battery also endows the Concept_One with a faintly incredible 370-mile range. Rimac plan to build just 88 examples of the concept and, in customary automotive style, if you have to ask, chances are you can’t afford it. Concept_One is set to cost $980,000, which equates to around £608,000. Like I said.

Akin to Jaguar’s CX-75, Concept-One is powered by electric motors on each wheel, along with an inverter and a reduction gearbox. Each wheel is independent of the others and, as a result, can “accelerate or decelerate hundreds of times per second, helping to achieve the desired handling”. Interestingly, the Rimac also falls into the CX-75’s price bracket and the two share several design cues.

Responsible for exterior design is Adriano Mudri, a man with history (and now working again), at Magna-Steyr. Concept-One’s slippery exterior is characterised by a swathe of exposed carbon fibre that runs the entire length of the car (helping disguise the tiny windows). Other notable design features include tunnel-effect taillights and a pronounced rear haunch that leads into the carbon fibre panel. The open charge socket is also very smart. Overall the design is well resolved, even understated – not what you would necessarily expect from a young, independent company producing electric hypercars. Mudri recently spoke at this year’s Auto® Conference in Zagreb. The subject: ‘Can EV’s be supercars?’. It’s not hard to imagine where he stands. Inside, Concept_One is no less appealing, using leather carbon fibre and uncluttered digital instrumentation. Draw your own conclusions, but Rimac’s team of ex-Pinifarina designers seem to have pulled it off with aplomb. Note the raised centre-console (complete with giant Tesla Model S-style touchscreen LCD) and an expansive, clean dashboard. Concept_One went on sale earlier this year and orders have already been secured from the Abu Dhabi Royal family, and who can blame them. After shocking the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, Mate Rimac’s vision continues to cause a stir.



Lightning Looming

Lightning Looming All-British gentleman’s express due early 2013 Words Richard Lane Photography Mark Raybone


t’s hard not be quite taken by the Lightning GT. Handsomely endowed with a cab rearward stance, when confronted with not one, but two, GT’s on the ground floor of Lightning Car Company’s offices on the bank of the River Thames, my immediate thought was, ‘Jaguar E-type meets Jensen Interceptor’. Rather a neat trick, that. Five years in the making and, whilst it’s not been easy for chairman Iain Sanderson and co-founder Arthur Wolstenholme, they’re confident that the next twelve months will see cars finally roll off the production line. The fact that they’re still here at all, when so many British start-ups are long gone, is as much a testament to their passion as it is to the underlying imagination and individuality of their product.

The ‘product’ is a 402bhp, all-electric grand tourer with a range in excess of 150 miles and a body crafted entirely from carbon fibre. Perhaps most impressive, however, are the lithium titanate batteries that allow the Lightning to reach full charge in just ten minutes. About the same amount of time it takes to fill up your Ferrari 599’s 105-litre tank and then queue at a service station, for those so inclined, and that’s very much the crux of this endeavor. “I lived in London where I saw Aston Martins going into Mayfair in the morning doing nine miles per hour and nine miles per gallon” recalls Sanderson, “and I felt that was wrong because of pollution in built up areas. I can see how money should buy you rights and privileges, but I don’t see why it

should buy you the right to pollute four or five time more than the car next to you, when you don’t need the performance”. You may be surprised to learn, then, that the development prototype Lightning you see here is loosely based on an original V8 version, penned by now-Lotus designer Daniel Durrant, although the only original part left over from 2002 is the windscreen. Supported by a small team, Durrent was later aided by the digital modeling team at Chris Longmore’s Drive Design consultancy to bring the car off the page to fully running prototype stage. The car’s 2008 showcase at the London Excel represented a time frame of six years from sketch to metal, and in the design world a lot can, and often does, change. One thing Sanderson was adamant on keeping, however, were the somewhat magnificent dual buttresses flowing off the GT’s roofline. Inspired by the Vanwall Formula One cars of the 1950’s (the 1958 VW 5 taking the inaugural constructor’s championship from Ferrari, with Moss and Brooks taking three wins apiece), they offer bystanders the same visual drama as the GT tears silently away as it does on approach. The design brief was, simply: keep the car looking good at all angles. Sanderson, however, admits that there’s still more work to be done before the first of an anticipated 20 cars are completed in Coventry early next year. ‘More work’ may mean raising the roofline by an inch to accommodate taller

drivers but by and large, what you see here is what the finished article’s exterior will look like. As well as a roadster version of the GT, Sanderson believes the car’s platform also offers a fantastic base for a large saloon or SUV. Coasting around the streets of west London in the matt black development car was an experience different to that of any other electric car I’ve been in. Firstly, the GT encapsulates that old-school grand tourer feel, with a high bonnet-line and lowslung seats, the Lightning felt akin to a Mercedes SLS. Whilst the powertrain consisted of just a single motor putting out around 150bhp, the GT possessed a point-and-shoot nature that will be familiar to EV owners, and it’s not hard to imagine how formidable the production car will be equipped twin 150kW motors generating over 400bhp. “Top speed will probably be limited to around 150mph but we can limit it to whatever we want” states Sanderson, and the Lightning will crack 60mph from rest in less than 4.5 seconds “easily”. Overtaking should be something of a doddle for the Lightning, too, as a glut of instantaneous torque bodes well for brisk 3070mph dash. Of comparable width to an Aston Martin Vanquish, the Lightning disguises its considerable size well from behind the wheel. Yes, it’s large, but it’s also manageable, and watching Sanderson, a former offshore powerboat racer, thread the GT through some precariously narrow traffic calming measures with relative

ease bodes well for the car as an urban mode of transport. That same width pays dividends in the cockpit. Though modestly appointed in this prototype, it’s clear that the production model will have ample space inside, partly due to the chassis integrated battery packs that run down the core of the car and, as a result, pave the way for a centre console (over a foot wide) that duly dominates the cabin. The GT also feels surprisingly agile, due, again, to the batteries. “Handling will be exemplary” anticipates Sanderson, “because the weight’s where you want it: central and low”. From the passenger seat at least, direction changes feel light and crisp. The lithium titanate batteries, although very expensive (around £50,000’s worth per car) and a little heavier than lithium-ion batteries, have been totally reliable – to the extent that the Lightning team hasn’t

seen them for the last fourteen months and over 10,000 miles. Encouragingly, these batteries are also immune to ‘bricking’, happily running from 100% to 0% charge. Again, high-speed off board charging makes long range, zero emissions motoring a realistic proposition. Costing well over £100,000 to build, Lightning Car Company will look to sell the 20 cars due next year for between £185,000 and £200,000, and are now looking to convert the 2,000-or-so enquires they’ve received into deposits for build slots. Entrepreneur-minded individuals have been earmarked. The overall impression of the GT is the juxtaposition of classic proportions and aesthetic onto ultrahi-tech hardware, like a bridge between analogue and digital spheres. There’s a distinctly British charm the car and for those who find a Tesla too small and a Fisker too brash, look no further.


08. VIEW

The Supercar in the 21st Century by Peter Stevens

The Supercar in the 21st Century Written by Peter Stevens


o you can buy a Bugatti Veyron with 1,200 horsepower, it has a top speed of over 250 mph (that’s a nice round 400 kmh), all it proves is that you have a big fat wallet. The term ‘supercar’ is a recently applied categorization for very high performance sports, cars that have always surpassed the performance criteria of regular passenger cars. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Bugatti, ironically was the epitome of efficient performance. Ettore Bugatti famously said, “My friend builds the fastest lorries of anyone that I know”. Bugatti’s Type 35 with its engine of less than half the capacity of a Bentley, and half the weight, was an early example of the advantages that improved efficiency could bring. In the latter part of the 20th Century high performance sports cars often pioneered new technologies that were later applied to more mainstream vehicles. A lengthy list would include overhead valves and overhead camshafts, which contributed both higher specific power outputs, and much improved fuel consumption. Independent suspension was lighter, gave much more acceptable ride quality, and improved road holding and therefore safety. Disc brakes gave not only better stopping power but more

importantly, much better braking stability. These are three of the more obvious developments that can be attributed to the developments coming from high performance sports or racing cars; sophisticated electronic control systems, high strength materials, finite element analysis of complex structures and sophisticated active aerodynamic strategies are the things that we can’t see, but are just as innovative. It is an unfortunately fact of human nature that nothing forces the pace of development as fiercely as a war; luckily we do have a somewhat less aggressive alternative, which is motor racing. Many useful engineering innovations have come from this intensely competitive form of sport. However, in recent years the development paths of racing and road cars have diverged and the most visible engineering transfers of technologies are no longer apparent. When you add to this the simple fact that almost every road car is now remarkably good, it will stop, steer, accelerate and consume energy, whilst protecting the occupants to a wonderful degree, in away that both W.O. Bentley and Ettore

Bugatti would find almost impossible to believe. It is almost as if the task of the high performance, or ‘super’ car, is done. The only easily understood differentiator between these types of car has become top speed. Acceleration is limited by the laws of physics that set the limit of traction between the tyres of the car and the road surface, getting from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 100kmh) in something like 3 seconds is startling, the difference between 3.1 and 2.9 seconds is totally academic. You could not feel the difference. Braking power is not a measure that holds much interest for buyers of these cars, and the irony of, for example the McLaren MP4 12C, is that whilst it is stopping at a rate greater than almost any other road going car, a rear aerodynamic device rises up obscuring the view rearwards. With such phenomenal stopping power it would be useful to see if you are about to be run into by a pick-up truck. Therefore maximum speed, regardless of any other factors, becomes the principal selling proposition. High speeds require high power outputs when contemporary component layouts are applied. 500 horsepower will not be enough for the market-

ing people. 627? No, not enough, 1000? No,no,no, how about 1,200 horse power? That should be enough for now but in a couple of years that could seem inadequate. How do we escape from this irrelevant pursuit of speed? By returning to what the high performance sports car previously contributed to engineering development, the pursuit of efficiency. How clever it would be to start with a low emission, small displacement engine, probably diesel, with less than half the horsepower of a current supercar (maybe even on third of the power), a much reduced frontal area, low aerodynamic drag but good stability, light weight and such a radical layout of all the components that it would look like nothing we have seen before. Well, a racing version of this very layout already exists and will

run at Le Mans in June 2012! It has already, in testing, shown itself to be competitive with cars of twice the weight and twice the engine power, whilst using half the fuel. When considering a vehicle as radical as the Delta Wing, it is important not to think that designers should simply considering ‘clothing’ the car for the road use, but instead understand how the innovative result came about, and consider how that process could be applied to the future supercar. How cool would it be to be swooshing on an Autobahn, AutoRoute or Motorway at 130 mph (200 kmh) using no more than 2 litres of fuel for every 100 kilometers; that would mean that once again the supercar was the premier mode of transportation for people who love the idea of better performance than their peers.


Although famous for his design of the McLaren F1, Peter Stevens, unsurprisingly, has more than a few other designs of note under his belt, including the Jaguar XJR-15 and the M100 Lotus Elan. Currently a visiting Profesor of Vehicle Design at the Royal College of Art, Stevens is also Director of Design at Floridabased Rivian Automotive.

Green Car Design/Review April - June 2012  

Halfway through 2012 and here's Green Car Design's second review, April - June 2012: Supercars. Headlines: Vauxhall Ampera, Renault Twizy,...

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