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Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Quick Thoughts: A small car in a big car’s pants: the new Ford Focus

Ford’s new Focus has been unleashed a full year ahead of it’s European on-sale date and it’s already generating substantial comment in the sphere of the blogs. Ed Stubbs and Dustin Shedlarski have both written interesting critiques of a design that I, personally, find a little schizophrenic. But let’s face it: when you’re trying to design one C-Segment product for two markets – one that’s been downsized for decades and another that’s only just coming to terms with the concept – things are bound to get a little hectic. Read the rest of this entry »

Someone has been drinking the Opelaid.

Is it me or do the front clips of these two cars look decidedly similar?  The prominent, 5 sided grille on a central plinth? The trapezoidal lamps that break over the top surface of the wing? The three element lower intake? Even the little surface underlining the base of the headlamps is remarkably similar.

On the left we have the Chrysler 200C EV Concept from the Detroit show and on the right we have the new (as in now in production) Opel Insignia.

One is a vision of where a brand wants to be. The other is a testament to where a brand is now, based on a vision that’s maybe 5 years old now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Chrysler is a bad looking car (in fact, elements of it are downright sexy, the lovely interior in particular). It’s just that I would have liked to see a much stronger, forward looking statement about the future of Chrysler, especially give their current financial situation.

 I breathed an epic sigh of relief when I saw that they had finally ditched the baroque/kitsch theme that has done them such a disservice over the last few years but such an homage (intentional or not) to just another average, mid-sized car (that is already on the market) seems like an opportunity missed for the team in Aubern Hills.

Designers: we’re looking for signs of energy, confidence and an eye fixed firmly on the future, not competent me-too-ism!

Lincoln comes through with the goods…kinda.

Today seems as good a day as any to start the little experiment that is DownsideUp. I can’t promise you much but here goes…

It seems only yesterday that the bosses of the Big Three made their separate ways to Washington to plead for more cash in that most inappropriate of vehicles, the company private jet. It seemed impossible that companies headed by these insensitive oafs could actually produce anything remotely relevant for the Detroit show.

Well, I’ve been proved wrong!

Today Lincoln launched the Concept C, a vaguely C-Segment-ish hatch with a Fiat Multipla-aping 3-abreast seating layout. Of course the technical details are nothing but pie-in-the-sky stuff as far as any potential production version is concerned but it’s the package that really excited me.

Here is an American manufacturer seemingly realising that part of the future lies in downsizing. People who would have traditionally purchased D or even E Segment cars will be looking to get into something more manageable and economically/environmentally responsible but they aren’t going to want to give up on the luxuries, or indeed the sense of space, they have come to enjoy. The Concept C delivers on this idea by having a wonderful sense of spaciousness within its compact dimensions and an interior style and elegance appropriate to a small premium player.

For me the exterior design theme is a take-it-or-leave-it affair that plays on well established Lincoln themes somewhat awkwardly adapted to a radically smaller proportion. As I’ve said, the treat for me here was not so much the detailed execution and more Lincoln’s relisation that it can do small and still retain its values. Now let’s just hope FoMoCo has the bollocks to produce it and the American buying public can see it as a viable alternative.

More info at: Autoblog

About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Seren. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I host an event called Rising Minds, at Shoreditch House.

DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. All views represented here are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of anyone else.

Get in touch at drewpasmith (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.