The Frankfurt Motor Show is Europe’s largest annual gathering of car makers, where the latest products, newest technologies and hottest trends are all displayed before they go on sale to drivers around the world. So Mazda Social turned to Kevin Rice, Mazda Europe’s design director, to get his views on the most intriguing cars from the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Traditionally a maker of sports cars and luxury saloons, the F-Pace is Jaguar’s first crossover – a mash-up of the high seating position and attitude of a four-wheel drive SUV with the practicality of an estate car. This is a production car, and Rice is intrigued to see how Jaguar has managed to maintain its sporty look with a big, tall vehicle.
Kevin Rice’s view of the Jaguar F-Pace:
“I couldn’t help but get side-tracked by the Jaguar C-X75 supercar from Spectre, the new James Bond film. Although the C-X75 supercar concept is now five years old, it has taken the Jaguar look to a new altitude; it’s a gorgeous, sexy car. So with sports cars in mind, I’d say the F-Pace is a daring move for Jaguar.
“Even its saloons have a feel of sportiness and dynamism – and it’s not easy to do the same with an SUV. So it’s a high mountain to climb, and Jaguar is brave to do it. I feel the design respects SUV proportions and it’s definitely got a Jaguar feel – the front end is powerful and strong. It’s a compelling alternative to the traditional German approach.
It’s got a Jaguar feel – the front-end is powerful and strong
“Mazda’s target for SUVs, an increasingly popular type of car, is slightly different. We are exploring a new proportion with the Koeru concept car [that made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show] in combination with an original approach to beauty.”
Mercedes Concept Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile
Mercedes used to be viewed as the most conservative of Germany’s luxury car makers, but increasingly it is reaching out to a younger audience with more daring design. The Concept IAA is a prototype for a petrol-electric hybrid powered saloon car with bodywork that moves to help the car’s aerodynamic performance and improve fuel consumption.
Kevin Rice’s view of the Mercedes IAA:
“It’s incredibly dynamic, a very long, low and oh-so silver machine. Who would have thought that what was Germany’s most traditional car firm 10 years ago would do a car more suited for the movies than the road?
As designers we have to come up with solutions that are about function as much as form
“I take my hat off to Mercedes; it’s showing some spirit. This car has a retro-future feel with staggering proportions. The extended tail further exaggerates the extreme proportions, but no one would ever imagine they could change in front of your very eyes as the tail physically moves in and out…!
“The body-coloured glass is another revolution that seems to graphically alter the proportion. It’s very individual and in a way it’s a reminder to the world that as designers we have to also think like engineers and come up with solutions that aren’t just about the form but also the function.”
Forward-thinking Mazda is one of the pioneers of the premium crossover market, having launched the CX-7 in 2006. Since then, exciting models like the CX-5 and new CX-3 have earned praise from critics and drivers alike and brought new customers to the Mazda brand. With the new Koeru concept car, Mazda is shaking up the thinking behind the SUV and being bolder and more expressive than ever.
Kevin Rice’s view of the Mazda Koeru:
“Drivers have taken to the SUV type of car with enthusiasm, but are always looking for the next trend and increasingly place a value on being expressive. The Koeru concept car takes the SUV in a new direction and redefines the boundaries of a crossover; it introduces different proportions, brings more beauty and – importantly – is feasible for production.
“The next step is for us to listen to drivers’ feedback and judge their enthusiasm for a car as bold as the Koeru concept. So far we have had nothing but positive comment and press coverage. Watch this space…”
Porsche Mission E
Porsche used to be best known for building niche sports cars for purist drivers, but its range has gradually expanded and the car maker’s next challenge is to embrace electric car technology. The Mission E is a vision for a four-door luxury car that brings Porsche levels of performance to the electric car market. It boasts 682bhp and is claimed to be able to travel 311 miles on one battery charge. It’s a strong hint at a car that Porsche might produce by the end of the decade.
Kevin Rice’s view of the Porsche Mission E:
“This car has a really intriguing proportional symmetry. Where most cars use a wedge shape to give a dynamic feel, in this case Porsche is concentrating the eye on the car’s wheels and the strength of the fenders. These ‘bionically strong’ fenders indicate four-wheel drive, good traction control and a convincing impression of power.
“Overall, I would say that the Mission E looks unmistakably like a Porsche. It also brings excitement to the electric car a market, an area that has, so far, been treading cautiously and not taking many risks. If anyone thought EVs were boring, this will make them think again.
It communicates a convincing impression of power
“Porsche’s approach makes an interesting contrast to ours. At Mazda we use a very clear proportional shift to bring across the feeling of motion, by moving the volumes rearwards. That way we’re emphasising strong vehicle dynamics.”
This unusual-looking machine is a mix of coupe, SUV and electric performance car. Nissan is suggesting that the Gripz, a high-riding all-wheel drive coupé, could replace its 370Z sports car.
Kevin Rice’s view of the Nissan Gripz:
“It’s amazing how the SUV idea has grabbed everyone’s imagination. But very few would try to take a sports car and turn it into an SUV. That’s a complete paradigm shift.
It uses unique combinations of materials, details, surfaces and lines to create excitement
“Nissan is really in an iconic place with the 240Z. That car was one of the must-have sports cars of the 1970s and is the 370Z’s ancestor. So it’s a bold move to consider completely changing the paradigm because no-one has tried anything like this. Nissan has had to find new design cues to maintain a sporting flavour.
“It’s really interesting to see how it’s used graphics and the silhouette to get a strong sporting feel. It uses unique combinations of materials, details, surfaces and lines to create excitement.
“At Mazda we’re in a similar position with the legacy of the MX-5. For us though, our core values of agility, lightweight and fun to drive are non-negotiable – they are as essential now as they were 25 years ago.”
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