Designer Freedom?

As regulation continues to dictate how cars look mainly for “safety” reasons, this leaves less room for designers to design their dream car.  Also, as automotive designers move around, either within the holding companies or change firms, one can clearly see the design language represented in various cars, as they change company.  One such example is Marc Lichte, who currently heads up the design at Audi.  His long straight lines can clearly be seen in VW, where he was responsible for the exterior, into the current Audi line up.

Audi
Volkswagen

One can also see his mark in the new Audi A6, where his hard, long lines are evident making the car more masculine, longer and defined.  

Clearly one can see the inspiration of Audi motorsport, which the haunched wheel arches – a throwback to the Audi Ur Quattro, which dominated the rally scene in the 1980’s.

Audi A6
Audi A6

On the interior, his passion for Porsche can also be seen.  The double lines of the Porsches of old, can clearly be seen in the interior as well. Even the steering wheel is similar.

Audi A6 Interior
Porsche 993 Interior

But are cues from the past the way forward?  Should car companies follow history and previous design cues of the past, or like Jaguar, throw away history and focus on the future?

New XJ
Old XJ

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

Petrol- or Mobility- Head

The other day I saw the new BMW 850M on the street, which I thought was interesting at best. The lines, creases and folds make it a good looking and aggressive car but, sadly, I must admit it did not get me that excited. Adrian van Hooydonk, head of design at BWM said “The 8 opens a new chapter in BMW’s design language.” But what about the heritage? I remember back when the (old) 8 series came out in the early 1990s…. From a design point of view, it was an evolution of the 635CSI and the pillar-less windows still make it extremely cool looking, even by today’s standards. It seems the new car is just an aggressive wrapping of metal around current (and future) legislation? Change the badge and it can be anything…. Kia? Toyota? Cherry Automotive?

BMW 850M

Enough about design, what about the engineering aspect?  Ah yes, a hand-me-down 4.4L twin turbo V8 that is used in most of the sporty BMW models…. The original 850 had a naturally aspirated V12 …. Did you read that correctly?  A VEE TWELVE!  An engine bespoke to the flagship model.  The 4.4L TT V8 is powerful and I am sure the new BMW will be quick.  And I am also sure that it will be filled with tech such as autonomous driving aids, connectivity, and interior lighting that can reflect your current mood.…. But I do not care about that.  That sounds more like an IT geek’s wet dream than that of a petrol head. 

BMW 850 CSI

I am not having a go specifically at BMW, as most major car makers today think efficiency, economies of scale and profits, but it struck me for the first time: is a modern petrol head a mobility head? Do they care more about the mobility and tech than the engineering?  Is it only horsepower and 0-100 times and aggressive lines that make a car cool?  As amazing as the new BMW 8 series is, I cannot help feeling that this will be the dream of the IT department rather than someone who is really into cars, engineering and driving.  Am I wrong? Old? Outdated?

I would much rather have an 850 CSI with a V12 up front, manual transmission and rear wheel drive!