There’s no denying the fact that this was the ‘Star of the Show’ this year. Measured alone by the amount of people per square meter on the Ferrari stand and the paths around it: Totally packed all the time! Ferrari’s marketing machine got it right again: Throwing in their heritage, competition history, state of the art technology and Manzoni (rather than Pininfarina) design into a car that seems scarcely pretty but extremely performance orientated. It’s a pity that all engineering work and test miles that have been invested in the car will never pay off. Most of the planned 499 LaFerrari’s (sold out, with some 250 down payments on the waiting list, praying madly for some bankruptcies) will be bought and stored in private collections, never to see a circuit or even the open road……
Alfa Romeo 4C
For true Alfisti this is important news: Their favourite brand isn’t dead yet! After seeing the 4C concept 2 years ago, first impression of the production car is that it has stayed remarkably close to design intent. Okay, a second look reveals a somewhat kit-carlike appearance (especially front bumper with chicken wire grilles), and those front lamp clusters are really not OK. It remains a pretty impressive package though; carbon fibre all over the place, including chassis, keeping the car below the tonne. A 240 bhp mid-engine should guarantee excellent dynamics. And all this at a fair price which means I will be able to afford one in about 4 years. Seeing the car on the Alfa stand left a few things to be desired. In the evening we saw one on the road, waiting to take off, between some Mito’s and Giulietta’s. It really showed how compact, low slung and roadhugging this little car is. It convinced me that I desperately need to have one! As opposed to the Ferrari, this is a car that can and will be enjoyed by driving enthusiasts……
Innovation is the word that springs to mind, but not while looking at the static display of this car. The concept comes alive when one sees it moving. That Toyota was fully aware of that, was proven by the fact that the i-Road was showcased driving around the stand to demonstrate its advanced nature. Front wheels that move vertically to allow for leaning in the corners, steering and electric drive on the single rear castor wheel ensure a turning circle of just 3 meters. Steering on the rear wheels can only be done with the aid of computers to level out its inherent instability. In that respect this car is way up there with modern day fighter planes; made deliberately unstable to max out on agility. Whether one wants to look at this vehicle as the bastard son of BMW’s C1 and Piaggio’s MP3, or as a minimalistic ‘car’ is beside the point. This is a new sort of (inner-city) mobility with minimal footprint and its own driving dynamics, it renders the Renault Twizzy totally ridiculous and utterly redundant.
A surprise to myself, not having been a big fan of VW’s earlier 1 liter prototypes, this one actually makes a serious impression. This is a ‘green’ (or should we say ‘blue’) car that is really sexy. Sitting in it, this feeling is further enhanced. Only thing VW has to do is scale up to a more fundamental production number than the 250 cars they’re talking about. This shouldn’t die as a Marketing exercise.
Pininfarina Sergio Concept
The prize for prettiest (concept) car of the show was easily fetched by Pininfarina. Amazing how they can deliver this level of quality in these difficult times. For comparison one only has to glimpse right next door at Bertone’s struggle with the Aston Rapide Shooting Brake. The 1965 Dino concept, that was also on display on the Pininfarina stand, was totally endearing and shows how far concept cars have come these days.
The not so good, the bad & the ugly
Lamborghini’s Venero looked like someone had thrown the content of an 80’s ‘Kamei’-catalogue at an Aventador….from about a 100 yards. The McLaren F1 LM stole the show at the McLaren stand, although the new P1 was also present. VW’s e-Co-Motion Concept: How did this slip Walter’s attention? Spijker’s B6 Venator; or how to make the least out of a basically good package (Artega GT), BMW 3GT; Proportion mishap. People talked about ‘Alfa 4C’s croissant’ in a demeaning way. How did it end up on this cars front fender? MB CLA; what a limp rear end, Audi A3 e & g-Tron; WTF? And then Marchione’s latest mental alienation: Bringing all accessory-lines of Alfa/FIAT/Lancia under the Mopar brand, huh? Blasphemy for fans of Italian and US cars alike.
It was a terrific bonus to have been within a 50 cm distance of greatness such as Jacky Stewart and Niki Lauda, of course the feeling must have been mutual. Furthermore it’s becoming painfully clear that the car industry hasn’t got its focus on us anymore. The aim is on the East, starting at the Russian border and stretching well into China. The visitors become more and more ‘colourful’ over the years. We see the rich and famous out of these area’s, showing off their wealth with clothes, jewelry, Cohiba’s, bodyguards, women and other accessories: Exotic, to give it a positive qualification.
True highlights happen when one doesn’t expect them. We found a small garage in a dark Geneva corner where a Dino and Muira spent some quality time together; Touched us deeply.
Maximal impact with minimal input. Clever marketing from Munich, positioning the Mini in a world of design and art. For little money you will have your product in Wallpaper and Surface magazines laid out on stylish coffee tables. The car as a canvas. Automotive….no, interesting….perhaps.
Strijp S, probably not the most exotic section of the Dutch Design Week, but definitely the right indicator. A spot where artists and designers meet the industry. Commerce with warmth, personal and mass produced. The two might blend together if we believe the signs. It is all about connections. Three-dee printers on every corner.
We take a walk through the Klokgebouw and think of the applications.I could design my own shoes. Although, there is a lot of footwear inspiration in Eindhoven. Another trend? In the evening we hammer together our own Eek at a friends place. Do it yourself is still the most rewarding for a designer.