Tag Archives: automotive design

Audi & the design of “inward flow”

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Well i gotta give it to Audi, not just because they are my favourite car company, but because they are the only company I can think of who are currently designing cars which will look classic in 10, 20, or 30 years from now (pardon me Alfa Romeo, but you’re kinda losing it).  They are the only company I can think of who have attention to detail.  The evidence for this is in the brand new Audi A7 introduced this past week in Germany.   The rear end of the new A7 has been getting under my skin since the introduction….and now i know why.

The back end flows inwards, going back towards the body.  Sure there is a bumper, however this inward flow hasn’t been used in many modern cars….until now. They have brought back the inward flow of the rear end!  I know Alfa Romeo have used this ‘inward flow’ (as i refer to it) in their 8c Competizione, however it was a bit overdone with the weird round tail light, but i’m not complaining! The 8c was a stunningly designed car.  I think Corvettes and special edition cars like the Ford GT also used this, but when have you recently seen it on a production sedan? i can’t remember any car in the last 10 or 20 years with this….production sedan, shall is say.

Alfa Romeo has a long history of sports cars with this inward flow, I generally recollect one of my favourite Alfa Romeos, the superb Montreal:

Audi claims their inspiration for the new style rear-end comes from them analyzing the 1970s Audi 100 Coupes and i can definitely see what they were looking at…..in fact, i think this new car has more similarity to that design than any other current Audi.

Apparently, this was a very conscious effort to consider ‘older’ designs when designing the A7.  Check out this drawing that Audi issued to the press about the influences of the A7 design.

It seems though, that Lamborghini has been flirting with this idea for a while!  Well at least in concept form.  Check out the Lamborghini Estoque Concept and the Lamborghini Miura Concept from the past several years.  Same indented inward flow rear end.  Lamborghini, however, is a company essentially operated by Audi, so this isn’t surprising at all….

So what do you guys think about this? will this set a trend and bring this design sense back into the currently lackluster japanese & korean-influenced automotive design world? Can Audi influence other car makers to bring something new & old back into design?  Alfa Romeo from a few years ago (2000-2007) really influenced alot of automotive design, however it didn’t last…..but I feel that Audi has already caused all these companies to use “big grilles”….can they get the rest of the industry to throw a bit of retro in the game? I hope so.

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the WORST modern tail lights….

Here at IEDEI, i try to keep things positive and upbeat, however certain things about automotive design really get me going.  Lately i’ve been noticing alot about the taillights on cars…and how bizarrely they are often designed.  I’m starting to get the feeling that some sap in each company sits around doing the design for the lighting bits, and the tail light guy must be the one everyone makes fun of at lunch time…..well probably not, but it makes me feel better to think he exists and this happens!

So what cars have the WORST, most annoying, ugly, and awkward tail lights on modern cars?  Here are a few…

Toyota Altezza/Lexus IS (1st generation)

800px-Toyota_Altezza_001

Whoever designed these taillights should be run over by an Altezza….THIS CAR brought “clear tail lights” to the mainstream! So every pimpled geeky 17 year-old high school student rollin in his junked out 1991 Corolla w/custom tin can rippy exhaust could ‘special order’ himself a set of Corolla “Altezza” cleared taillights.  Oh the horror…..Toyota should be ashamed of itself for introducing such a trend…

Nissan Altima

2007-nissan-altima-rear-closeup

There aren’t too many cars I hate as much as I hate the Nissan Altima.   It is by far one of THE most annoying, common, and idiot-magnet cars on the road today.  I swear that every other Altima i see on the mean streets of NYC are driven by a classless blithering idiot weaving in and out of traffic like a stabbed goat.  Terrible cars, terrible owners, and terrible tail lights designed by someone who thought it’d be cool to go 3D…..guess what, they look like shite maaan! That whole pseudo 3D thing is a miserable failure….looks like several animals were butchered, and then stuffed into a glass cylinder….awful awful.

Mitsubishi Eclipse (current)

06-Mitsubishi-Eclipse-rear

The current-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse is a true loser of a car.  Crap performance, very crappy looks, and horrendous cleared out tail lights (thanks Altezza!…really).  I must admit that i’m not sure if it’s the ill-proportioned car that is making the tail lights worse, or whether they are just rubbish at their steady state normal!

Nissan 350z

2007-Nissan-350Z-Rear-Light-1920x1440

You might start to think that, at this point, I am blindly attacking japanese cars; however it is difficult to deny just how tasteless their design subtleties can be sometimes!  The 350z is another example of a car which just fails on so many levels of design, inside and out.  Aside from being a robotic, warped imitation of the Audi TT design, they decided to turn the tail lights into an elongated spear-shaped trajectory.  This leads to the tail light horizontally invading the side of the car.  Terrible….just terrible.

that’s my shortlist…i’m sure there are plenty more! do you have any suggestions or nominations?

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automotive design: going backwards?

With all the technology, flair, and innovation on the side of today’s automotive engineers and designers—how is it that they cannot make classic designs anymore. Once in a while, you get a design like an Alfa Romeo Brera, Audi TT, Audi S5, or Mercedes-Benz CLS come into play. Cars which have character and verve. But in the 60s and early 70s, there were so many amazing designs which were thrown around.

Point in example, one of THE most desirable cars in the world is the Porsche 911. It has been for 40 years now. Why? because it captures imagination, steers clear of in-the-moment design cliches—-and instead aims for a timelessness which is quite valuable and unwavering.

Dodge recently re-introduced a new version of the Challenger for 2009. The original Challenger was a classic—in a time of cheap gas, muscle, and war. Right now, we have expensive gas, muscle, and war. The 2009 Dodge Challenger is a well designed car, albeit a bit contrived. I find it surreal that 30+ years after the original Challenger, you have a similar design looking back on the original. So is it really 1970 again? No, not really. The original Challenger had CHARM—bucketloads of it. The new one does not have charm. The original Challenger was loud, raw, sloppy, and frankly a bit of a design mess—-BUT it came together in a way which felt organic and natural. The new one is perfectly molded, with stiff suspension, 20″ wheels, and organized body parts.

look at the picture down below—-in fact there is NOT that much similar between the two cars at all. The charm of the original is gone! The new one evokes the old one in a slight, sort of alzheimer-ish memory problem type of way.

So what is in the future of the state of cars? I’ll tell ya that CURVES ARE COMING BACK. They’ll be back in the next 5 years. We’ve had enough of the straight-edge-wannabe-modern-look. Curves are modern. Curves are timeless. No one is gonna look back at the Cadillac CTS in 25 years and say—–“oooh that was a classic”!

Oh, and Dodge should fix their new Challenger. Take out those demented 20″ wheels, and make it less ‘thick’ looking.

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