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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Car Design: Paris Auto Show '08 Part One

The Paris show kicks off the long circuit of car shows that culminates with New York next Spring and as such can be seen as a bellwether for what sorts of designs and concepts are at the top of designers minds this season. Judging on the evidence here the two big trends are electric cars and big four door exotic sedans.

Blockbusters were few but there were some notable debuts:

The Lamborghini Estoque Concept is their entry into the burgeoning four-door supercar market alongside Porsche's upcoming Panamera and Aston-Martin's long-awaited Rapide. The reception to the Estoque was somewhat muted - compared to the typical Lambo it seems downright restrained.

It's at the front end - like the Porsche and Aston - where the most resemblance to it's stablemates is conveyed. The harder edges of the Reventon are finding it's way into other Lamborghini vehicles and the sinister rectangular headlights add a bit of distinction to the familiar shapes on the face.

The very aggressive rear (see pic above) is masterfully shaped and detailed - there is perhaps a hint of the Dodge Charger concept but the rear three quarter view is probably the car's best.

Where things get less certain are the bland midsection and ultra-low roofline. The window and roof shapes lack some distinction and the smooth sides don't seem well integrated with the dramatic rear flanks.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Nissan's neat electric NuVu concept. NuVu has a very unusual undulating greenhouse which flows skirt-like around the wheels. The detailing is extremely well done, from the chamfered wheel arches to the bumper cutlines to the "brows" over the headlamp units.

Though the proportions may seem a bit clown-car like the eye is drawn to the unusual shapes and the harmonious balance of elements. One of Nissan design's best recent concepts.

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