Paris prides itself on being the style capitol of the world. The 2006 Paris Motor Show carried on the tradition, with several innovative production and concept cars making their debut on the banks of the Seine.—KMK
VOLVO C30: Steve Mattin, Volvo design director, says he’s most proud of the C30’s rear shoulders, dubbing them “the boldest and most expressive” portion of the design. He’s also taking a liking to the rear glass on Volvo’s newest model, noting the style harkens back to the 1960’s era P1800 ES. The C30 is 8.6-in. shorter than the S40, yet the interior is spacious enough for four adults. Volvo will begin producing the C30 at its plant in Genk, Belgium, starting in the first quarter of ’07 with output pegged at 65,000 units globally.
Assessment: A design winner! Going to give Mini a run for its money!
RENAULT NEPTA CONCEPT: This four-seat cabriolet is a sign of things to come at Renault, according to Patrick le Quement, head of the French automaker’s design studio, who characterizes the concept as “in perfect keeping with Renault’s long tradition in body design” thanks to its unique gull wing doors that stretch the length of the entire body. The instrument panel was designed to appear as if it is suspended in air.
Assessment: No doubt Nepta’s a bit over-the-top, but further proof the French can design more than sexy clothes.
AUDI R8: Sharing is nice, especially when you’re Audi and you have Lamborghini developing vehicles just down the hall. The mid-engine Lambo Gallardo platform is the basis for the super-performance Audi R8 road car, which pays homage to the R8 race car that dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans for five years. The modern exterior is accentuated by its squatting stance and the arch roof design. The side profile stands out thanks to the dynamic line above the wheel arches.
Assessment: Beautifully tailored in its stance, the R8 still looks too much like a Lambo.
CHEVROLET WTCC ULTRA CONCEPT: Taking Chevrolet’s traditional conservative design to the extreme is the task of this concept, according to Dave Lyon, executive director of GM’s Asia-Pacific design studio, where the WTCC was crafted. “This is a very different perspective on Chevrolet, where we’ve turned the exterior design up to eleven. It’s all about energy,” he says. While there are no plans to bring the WTCC to production in its current form, Lyons says GM could easily build a car close to the concept in a few years.
Assessment: An exciting Chevy that’s more than deserving of getting the green light to shake off the bowtie’s cobwebs.
OPEL ANTARA: Take a close look at what is likely to be the next Saturn Vue. Based off GM’s Theta platform, the Antara, and its stable mate Chevrolet Captiva, were engineered with the help of GM’s Daewoo affiliate in Korea, along with its Pan-Asian Technical Center in China (talk about leveraging global resources). The design of the Antara should help Saturn in its plan to attract buyers who traditionally would have considered European brands, most notably Volkswagen, according to Brian Nesbitt, executive director of GM’s design studios in Europe, who is particularly keen on the Anatra’s headlamp and windshield design. “What’s important about the Antara is the refinement and attention to details, particularly in the shape and design of the head and tail lamps, which have a very technical and upscale appearance,” he said.
Assessment: The dowdy Saturn Vue finally gets modern and GM should bring the rest of the Opel line ASAP.
DODGE AVENGER CONCEPT: Based off the C-/D-segment platform jointly developed with Mitsubishi, the Avenger stands out as a truly sporty alternative in the crowded pack of mid-size sedans. With cues borrowed from the Dodge Caliber and Charger, watch for the production versions to be little changed from this concept. Penned by Ryan Nagodi, Avenger takes Dodge cues and pushes them to the next level. “What we have done here is evolve the Dodge grille and pushed it out to the edges creating a mask, if you will,” he said. “But the biggest cue is the gesture found on the rear quarter and in particular the haunches found over the rear wheels. This gives a strong impression when the Avenger passes by.”
Assessment: Avenger is proof that Chrysler still has its design mojo, which seems to have been missing during the Sebring development.
FORD MONDEO SHOW CAR: The third vehicle to feature the production execution of Ford’s “kinetic” design after the Galaxy and S-Max, the Mondeo takes a number of cues from the Iosis concept that debuted at the Frankfurt motor show in 2005. While Ford dubs this Mondeo a “show car,” a sneak peek at the Mondeo in production form at Ford’s Genk, Belgium, plant is a spitting image.
Assessment: Drop the Five Hundred and bring this car to the ‘States now, Mr. Mulally!
NISSAN QASHQAI: Nisssan’s Qashqai combines the functionality
of a small SUV within the packaging of a compact car platform. Styling has been dubbed “urban nomad” by Stephane Schwarz, design director for Nissan Europe. “It is a car of contrasts in a world of contrasts. It is tough and compact for the city, but sleek and agile for journeys away from town,” Schwarz said. To be built at Nissan’s Sunderland, UK, plant at the end of this year, the Qashqai will include the electronically-controlled All-Mode 4x4 system found on the X-Trail.
Assessment: The Qashqai is handsome; now if we only knew how to properly pronounce the name?
MINI: The icon gets a makeover—not extreme, but noticeable nonetheless. The front fascia features a new hexagonal radiator grille and larger headlamps, which shroud the fact that this new Mini Cooper is 2.36-in. longer in its base form and 2.4-in. longer in Cooper S trim than its predecessor. The biggest changes are in the interior, where the audio system is integrated into the oversized center speedometer. The overall feel is more streamlined, with the number of switches and knobs reduced dramatically, while the HVAC controls are now being integrated into a design that mimics the winged badge on the hood.
Assessment: Bigger may not be better, but the new Mini’s interior is top-notch…but who approved the integrated speedo/audio system? Tuners are going to hate it!
CITROEN C-METISSE CONCEPT: Trying to redefine the hatchback, Citroen uses flamboyant body work and a long hood to make the C-Metisse a shocking coupe that is more in line with the Grand Touring segment. Measuring 186.6-in. long and with a height of just 48-in., the concept looks like it’s glued to the road. The imposing front fascia is truly modern, and the door configuration is postmodern, as the front doors open gull-wing style while the rear doors open up and out (for optimal access). Inside, the C-Metisse looks like a fighter jet with its wrap around cockpit and headrests that protrude from the roof.
Assessment: The C-Metisse makes quirky French design sexy and ultra-cool.
FORD IOSIS X CONCEPT: A strong hint at a future Ford European crossover vehicle. Taking cues from the “kinetic” design theme established within Ford’s European design centers, the Iosis X features complex surfacing treatment and minimal overhangs. “This vehicle shows how we can apply kinetic design principles to a different type of vehicle,” said Ford Europe design boss Martin Smith, who characterized the Iosis X as a crossover with the footprint of a C-segment car.
Assessment: Is there life within Ford’s design staff after all? Only in Europe, it seems.