Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Nissan Muran-oh-dear-god

As the adage goes, you have some hits and you have some misses.

When it comes to Nissan’s recent history, the hits are manifold (350Z, original Cube, Qashqai, anything called GT-R and, latterly, the Juke).

Therefore, the misses are all the more bizarre and I really can’t think of a miss more spectacular than the Murano Cross Cabriolet. Read the rest of this entry »

Quick Thoughts: Nissan Juke – suicide (doors) can be good edition

Oh how I love the run-up to motor shows! With Geneva but a matter of weeks away, Nissan has revealed the Juke, a productionised version of the cute Qazana @JoeSimpson and I raved about at Geneva last year. Sadly, the car above is not the Juke. It’s my fantasy Juke, with the suicide doors of the Qazana rightfully reinstated.

Although I moved the shut-line back all of 100mm, the difference (for me at least) is night-and-day, making the wonderful Juke just that little bit more insane by keeping a whole lot more coupé in the mix. It’s a subtle change in appearance – if not in engineering – that I sorely wish we could have seen in the real thing.

At the end of the day, it matters little. I love this little box just fine and, after the slightly awkward second-album-syndrome Cube, the Juke puts Nissan back on top of the small car game.

The Life Aquatic: the trend in fish-faced cars

Is it just me or are we starting to see more and more of Nemo’s mates find their way onto dry land?

First, there was Nissan’s Grouper/Leaf:

Then there was Lexus’ Fangtooth/LF-A:

Now Mazda’s in on the game with the Devil Ray/Mazda5:

Who have we got to thank for this? Probably Mercedes-Benz and their Box Fish/Bionic Concept from 2005, which broadcast the idea that aquadynamic shapes were better for aerodynamics than… ah… aerodynamic ones.

If our current delight in eking out aerodynamic efficiencies continues, I wouldn’t be surprised if more fish faces start appearing on our roads. Sadly, however, on the aesthetic front the idiom like a fish out of water has never rung truer.

Honda’s missing the Frankfurt Show. Is that all it’s missing?


2009 will be remembered as the year that car manufacturers started to really reconsider their involvement in international motor shows. Although the effects of mass pull-out won’t become truly evident until Tokyo, where Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, Renault, Volkswagen and Volvo will be conspicuous only in their absence, in a case of what may seem to be a little bit of East/West tit-for-tat, Mitsubishi, Nissan/Infiniti and Honda have all decided to skip Frankfurt.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sexy Old Mercs, Brand Building and Platform 21’s Repair Manifesto

The recent news that Mercedes – Benz is starting a German pilot programme to resell what are known in Germany as Youngtimers (cars too young to be considered bona fide classics, but too old to be uninteresting) was music to my ears. That they would be selling cars from the hey day of Mercedes engineering and build quality, the years 1970 to 1990, only turned up the volume.

I immediately started compiling an imaginary list of what I would buy if my pockets contained anything more than lint. On it you would have found the following:

  1. A ’79 500 SLC, a little known rally homologation special with a lightened body and a wonderfully rumbly V8 under the bonnet
  2. An ’88 190E 2.5-16 Cosworth, the less chavvy alternative to an E30 BMW M3
  3. Two W124 E-Classes, a 300CE-24 Sportline (the discreet alternative to AMG) and a 500E sedan, built by hand at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant
  4. A W116 450 SEL 6.9… Ok, you get the point, I have an unhealthy obsession with a certain era of Mercs.

Once I got my daydreaming out of the way I realised what a canny move this is. Read the rest of this entry »

About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Westpac. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I help teams host an event called Rising Minds in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney.

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.