Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wishful Thought: Bring Back Three Door SUVs

The BMW X6, an idea that still baffles on paper but every time you see one on the road it has enough design presence to make it work. BMW has sold over 250,000 all over the world since its introduction, enough to warrant a second generation in the near future, an X4 sibling and a few competitors. The ZDX was an almost immediate response from Acura that never caught on, but Mercedes has the MLC almost ready and the rumors always persist about Audi following suite. With automakers willing to take some risks in the SUV category it seems more reasonable than ever to bring back the 1990s trend of three door SUVs. Back in the day it seemed like you can order your favorite SUV in a three door version starting with the "short bus" RAV4 all the way to the full size Tahoe. The three door SUV was the 1990s equivalent of the five door coupe of today. Take your best selling product and sacrifice some practicality and reason for some extra style. The Range Rover Evoque is currently the best example of how dropping a door per side can add to an SUV's design. Judging by purely anecdotal evidence the three door Evoque has single digit take rate, but with more and more automakers implementing modular platforms it should be more cost effective than ever to produce a unique three door SUV. Not saying it's a trend that is bound to happen but I wouldn't mind if it did.

The Range Rover Evoque offers a three door option
Even full size SUVs had the three door option

Everyone's favorite Audi Steppenwolf Concept

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Acura Follows Mitsubishi Off The Beaten Path

Mitsubishi is a brand so forgotten that no one will even notice that we practically swiped their commercial, this had to be the thinking in the ad agency war room that created Acura's "The Clear Path Commercial" for the MDX.  That or perhaps it's an incredible coincidence as there is a chance that the MDX commercial was created before the Outlander ad came out but released later. Or the same agency did both ads. Regardless, both ads feature a CUV stuck in traffic making a sharp 90 degree turn and escaping the ordinary life of bumper to bumper for a road much more open and scenic. Notice the way both ads focus on the steering wheel to symbolize the departure. Of course, there is a huge difference as the Outlander turns left and the MDX turns right. Aside from that both have the CUVs "finding your own lane" and "beating the beaten path" thanks to their advanced technology.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Unpractical But Very Awesome: Side Exit Exhaust

Practicality and cost consciousness is often a strong enemy of function and style. And more often than not practicality wins out. One of my favorite functional yet completely unpractical design and performance elements is the side exit exhaust. There is just something about sacrificing convention and standards in order to gain some performance. The unique sound is a bonus also. Seen only on a few models now it's a treat to see this exhaust combination every once in a while.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Aston Martin Looks To Get Its Mojo Back

Aston Martin makes some of the most gorgeous automobiles in the world and has been doing so for ages. The brand has always been 007 cool but as of recent it has lost some of its mojo in the ultra luxury realm. Part of the issue is that sometimes too much of a good thing spoils everyone and Aston Martin has a lineup where every model is amazingly beautiful but they are all too much alike. Even for automotive aficionados it's a confusing lineup. The Vantage is the introductory model yet it's also available with the same V12 as all others, the Vanquish is a better newer looking DB9 yet the DB9 is still available for sale. The Rapide is the best executed four door coupe on the market yet one that is mostly forgotten. No matter how gorgeous your designs are you begin to lose an edge when you become too predictable. Audi, take notice. With that in mind enter the recently spied Aston Martin full size luxury sedan rumored to bring back the Lagonda name. It's unlike anything that Aston Martin has made since the last Lagonda and features more traditional yet very striking proportions. On it's own the design is promising enough if it was from any brand, but it's even more intriguing to see how the final product ends up looking when it has Aston's design reputation to uphold. Add the possibility of a much stronger powertrain courtesy of Mercedes and the new Lagonda shapes up to be a viable competitor to Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Just what Aston needs to jumpstart a historic brand getting a little stale.

The last Lagonda was very unique and some design cues look to transfer

Monday, May 5, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing: When LED DRL Go Wrong

Though met with much skepticism at first there is no doubt that LED daytime running lights have become the most universally adopted styling element adopted by virtually every single brand on the market. A simple LED strip no longer cuts it in the competitive DRL market with every working to create a more distinctive and visually impressive design. Unfortunately, the one-upmanship has resulted in a few cases of DRLs that are simply overdone.

Cadillac CTS

Horizontal is the proffered DRL method for most brand and Cadillac would have already done well enough with a fairly simple vertical strip in each head light. In an effort to double the impact Cadillac literally added a second DRL strip integrated into the bumper right below the headlight to make a double decker effect that is two much of a good thing.

Land Rover Range Rover

The latest Range Rover is an evolution of a classic design with a seriously clean design that with almost no superfluous design elements. The only blemish on the clean sheet design are the head lights with DRLs that are too busy for their own good. As one the Cadillac the Range Rover would have done fairly well for itself if they kept things simple with just the outline of the headlight as the DRL but not content Land Rover added a loop that has no business being there.

 Audi A8

As the brand that invented the LED DRL, Audi continues to be one of the leaders in the head light design game, DRLs included. However, Audi misfired with the check mark shaped DRL pattern on the A8. Unlike the two previous offenders the A8 does not suffer from a design that is too complicated or too large but simply from a poor shape selection. The check mark looks good on paper but out of place on a car. The shape is distinctive and powerful in the rear view mirror but the overall impact isn't up to Audi's standard hence the pretty quick update to the A8 headlights with the refresh.