Honda uses lots of descriptors for design elements and features, so forgive us if we use a few in this article. The signature “Solid Wing” grille or face is familiar, but freshened, lower and wider for improved aero. The belt-line “Lightning Bolt” is a bit more elegant and now incorporates hidden sliding door tracks at long last. The body side is more sculptured, but with too many lines and angles for our taste. The lights are LED’s all round.
The interior is a key area of focus, it is after all a people hauler. The instrument panel is dominated by a central, high-mounted infotainment screen. The “Magic Slide” second row seats move front-to-back and side-to-side for easy access. The “Cabin Watch” camera feature allows parents to keep a close eye on what is happening in the second and third rows. The “Cabin Talk” feature is like an in-car public address system that allows easier communication throughout the vehicle. All good stuff!
Not much new from Acura this year, but we can at least lust after the now ‘fully in production’, drop dead gorgeous NSX. There was also an example of a racing version on display for good measure.
Part IV | Renault, surfing on its Captur mini-crossover success, revealed its new Kadjar. After missing the beginning of the SUV market, Renault wants to make a come back after its lack of success with the Koleos in Europe. Based on the same Qashqai architecture, Kadjar wears a strong new “corporate” grille from Renault Design. The body is more dynamic than the interior, which offers just a simple, classic dashboard. Quality materials are used throughout. The middle market SUV war will be fierce during the next few years and we can only hope that the market will always be this competitive.
Seat seems to be showing a stronger presence these days. With its concept 20V20 presentation, the Spanish cousin of the VW Group wanted to send some rather different messages. First, this nice concept likely gives us a good indication of the evolution we should see from the mark moving towards 2020. Lines are sharp, like it was designed and shaped with a scalpel, making accurate lines, angles and triangles. The overall shape is very dynamic, perhaps a little aggressive at first sight, so the future direction is likely to be a bit more sober and elegant. The second message is that Seat will soon be arriving on the SUV market. This concept is close to the Audi Q5 in size and it seems that the first production model will be a compact SUV in competition with Kaptur5 (Renault) and Juke (Nissan). After that, we should see some bigger versions.
As you can see, Geneva left us only a little hungry. The world market is heading in a strong upward direction, even if Europe seems to be a bit late in following… No doubt there will be a plethora of concept cars, model introductions and new features presented during the Frankfort show from September 17 to 27. We can’t wait!
In order to wait, and to end this report, a little gallery of cars we did not talk about…
Acura made the biggest splash among the Japanese brands with the long awaited production version of the Acura NSX. The car is stunning, as well as being a technological tour de force. Interestingly, the production design was completed in the US by a team led by Michelle Christensen, the engineering/development was done in the US and the manufacturing will be conducted in a new ‘craft centre’ at the Honda plant in Ohio. Full marks to Honda for allowing the vehicle to be developed outside Japan and in its major market. The final version is faithful to the concept model, even though the packaging went through several iterations to accommodate various different powertrain permutations and the dimensions grew in both length and width. The end result is suitably dramatic from all angles — if only we could drive one.
During the press days Honda displayed their fuel cell concept, presumably to match the one also found on the Toyota stand. Neither car is particularly attractive, but they are distinctive and standing out is certainly an appropriate goal for a vehicle powered by this future technology. Now all we need is a hydrogen infrastructure……..
Honda also demonstrated their racing prowess with a display featuring the Honda powered 2014 Indy 500 winner and the 1965 Mexican GP winning F1 car. We look forward to the return of Honda to F1 this season.
Toyota displayed the FT-1 concept car again — this time with gunmetal grey metallic paint. Frankly it looked a lot better than with last year’s red paint job. The big introduction for Toyota in Detroit was the new mid-sized Tacoma truck. No big design breakthroughs here so let’s move on to Lexus. The signature “bobbin” grilles are getting bigger and bigger, but they are still hard to love. If you can get past the grilles, there are some decent looking products available from this brand — the GSF 4-door and the RCF coupe being two great examples. The ground hugging GT3 racing version of the RCF coupe painted in bright white made a dramatic statement and a strong declaration of intent.
Nissan’s big news was also on the truck side of the business with the introduction of an all-new Titan full-sized pick-up. Neither Nissan nor Toyota have been as successful in the large truck market as they expected, but this is probably another step in the right direction for Nissan, especially with a brand new V8 Cummins diesel available under the hood.
The Infiniti Q60 concept was one of the most interesting designs at the show. The Q60 is 2-door coupe (yes, really!) with strong and interesting design cues from front to rear. The front end is dramatic, with sinister ‘hooded’ headlamps, a bold grille with a large illuminated emblem and two large lower air intakes with integrated fog lamps terminating in bold character lines sweeping up towards the headlamps. The side view is equally strong with big wheels, deep sculptured panels and an interesting quarter window termination. The theme continues in the rear with bold shapes around the exhausts an integrated decklid spoiler and taillamps that echo the “hooded eyes” of the front. Let’s hope they build this one!
It is good to see the success of Jaguar/Land Rover under Tata management. Jaguar introduced the XE sedan (a BMW 3-Series fighter) at the show to complete their range of handsome sedans. The XE has the appearance of being a little bigger than the BMW, but in our opinion it is the best looking of the three cars. Land Rover came to the show with the latest version of the Discovery and some new diesel powered models.