The Paris Motor Show may have long gone, but there was a real sense of optimism at the event, following the long period of uncertainty brought on by the credit crisis.
While I wasn’t at the event, the designers I have spoken to say there was a new sense of adrenaline and get up and go as companies realize they have to deliver ‘now’ as the market is recovering. Concepts were in abundance, as they are quicker to produce than a production car. Many people write off concepts, but they do indicate future trends and production car using extreme form and detail.
All eyes were on the Lotus stand at the show. Lotus is a complicated company! Lotus Group, owns Lotus Cars, which is separate to Lotus Racing Formula One team and Team Lotus.
Lotus Group is owned by Proton and has recently brought in a number of figureheads from other companies such as Ferrari. To showcase this new erato for Lotus, new Design Director, Donato Coco showed five concepts indicating future direction and model ranges. Despite skepticism, Lotus say all will go into production!
Gone are the lightweight, almost ‘kit-car’ style build and fitment. Inits place, high-end cars, clearly focused on the likes of Porsche and Ferrari. The weight has shot up as well, much to the dismay of traditional Lotus buyers….. .
…But here lies the problem. In its current form, Lotus isn’t profitable so a change in direction is needed.
After many false starts and cancelled projects, the Esprit name returns with this concept.
Not scheduled to reach production until 2013, this concept looks close to production and showcases Lotus new design language with its angular form, reversed rake front end and thin, angled front and rear lights. The front end graphic is a little generic and as far away from Lotus as you could possibly imagine.
I do like the character lines and creases around the car, particularly around the side engine air intakes which feed the Toyota sourced 5.0 V8 powerplant.The rear is dramatic with exposed carbon fibre, blending into the diffuser. Great contrast with the White paintwork. The Esprit is the best design of the five concepts.
The Lotus Elan is closest in form to its 1990’s predecessor. Sharing the same design language as the Esprit, the form on the side has some influence from the Peter Stevens Elan with its tall sides and taper.
Lotus plan to have the Elan in production within two years and is powered by a 450hp 4.0 Litre Supercharged V6. This and the Esprit work for me.
The Elite concept is a front-mid engine four seater grand-tourer and has a folding hardtop. These are hard to engineer and heavy, hence the +3000lb weight.
As a Lotus fan, I’m struggling to get my head around a 3000lb Lotus!! This rear view, recently released by Lotus does remind me of a mid-nineties Alfa Romeo Spyder!
Production is scheduled for 2014.
This is the new Lotus Elise. A huge departure from the current Elise.
This new generation car would be powered by 320hp Turbocharged Toyota 2.0 Litre engine. Most visible is a shift up market into true Porsche territory. The black area on the top of the rear fenders and rear end is unusual.
Following Aston Martin and Porsche, Lotus final concept is a four sedan. The Eterne has an optional hybrid powerplant. The common design language at the front morphs into softer, more elegant form along the side.
Lotus say all these concepts will be produced, but I would expect this model to be most at risk. Very new territory for Lotus and this concept still looked like it was in its early stages.
So, what do Speedhunters think?
Do you like the new Styling and direction at Lotus? What would Colin Chapman Say to a 3500lb Lotus?
Personally, I like the Esprit and Elan, but I’m concerned heritage and legacy is being left behind. The styling looks as if it could have come from Honda or Toyota. Launching five new cars in the next five years is very aggressive for such a small company.
Elswhere, Renault showed off their new DeZir concept, which is the first Renault for Design chief, Laurens van Den Acker. The dutch designer was previously Head of Global design at Mazda. The brief was to design a ‘sensual’ car with soft, voluptuous forms.
The chrome ‘blade’ does remind people of the Audi R8, but this concept is more than that. From a design point of view, this car is very well resolved. A real breath of fresh air and the exterior looks quite close to production ready. I love how the LED’s are integrated into the design front and rear.
Expect the front end to transfer to production cars in a more diluted state.
Inside, the De Zir is very different! Real pie-in-the-sky concept! Interesting centre console.
Jaguar surprised many with their C-X75 concept. With hints of the XJ220 and the iconic XJ-13 and E-type, this shows the future design language for Jaguar coupes. The XF and new XJ have been well received and the CX-75 shows off a similar squared off grille.
The Jaguar has some very well developed form with soft elegant surfacing, as a Jaguar should. This does seem to be a trend, as the industry moves away from sharp forms. Note the Renault.
Under the skin, the concept uses a pair of 96 horsepower turbines, sinning at 80,000rpm! This feeds Electric Motors for an estimated 780hp!!!!
Not all cars have soft and elegant form
The Audi Quattro Concept celebrates original Sport Quattro from the mid-1980’s and has a very aggressive front end. Derived from a A5 coupe, still evident in side view, the front has a more extreme version of the Audi grille with tall outer air intakes, similar to their earlier E-tron concept.
The character line running from front to rear lights rises over the wheels to hint at the original Quattro blister arches. The relatively short wheelbase also reminds us of the Quattro Sport which was developed for Rallying. I find the rear disappointing.
Audi also showed a model of the concept with retro Audi Sport graphics and Sport S2 bodykit. A homage to the past…or a hint at the future?
The new A1 at the show, also showed off retro Audi Sport colours…..
Lamborghini have been long associated with sharp, angular form and their latest concept the ‘Sesto Elemento’ is no exception. The car is instantly recognizable as a Lamborghini with its deep chin spoiler, angled front end and rear form and relatively flat front windscreen.
In side elevation, the concept lacks the clean lines of the Gallardo and Murcielargo and is closer to the Reventon. It is a very ‘cab-forward’ design.
Some very nice details at the rear and on the engine cover.
Will the Murcielargo replacement look like this? Do you like it?
The Kia Pop is the typical concept you see at Motor Show! Look closely and it is some cool features. I like the integration of the LED lights at the rear and the asymmetric rear screen. The interior is very minimalist and reminds me of a modern day Bond-Bug (Younger Speedhunters will have to Google that!). I wonder if Kia might put something like this in Production. This is how the Soul started out.
In my next post, we will look at some of the production cars including the next generation Ford Focus ST and a trio of new WRC machines.
– Andy Blackmore
Images: Newspress, Lotus, Audi, Renault, Kia