returned from France a few days ago to find Robb and Mark discussing the last 12 months of
cars and car design, because they were thinking about which ones ought to be
entered into the upcoming Spark design Awards.
While the auto industry’s been in the doldrums for some time now, Spark Awards provides an opportune moment to take a look at some of the more interesting cars, concepts and automotive details of recent times. So without further ado, here’s a scratch list of some Simpson favourites…
Designed years ago, but then dumped in a secret hanger until such time when BMW needed an on-demand concept to unveil (the opening of BMW-Welt proved to be just such an occasion), BMW’s Gina is arguably the single most innovative thing to have happened in auto design for years. As its mastermind Chris Bangle remarked at unveiling “what do we need the skin of a car for anyway? What is it made out of? Does it have to be made of metal?” Too few ‘what if’ questions are asked in the auto world, and the moments that they do happen are typically hidden from public view – as this one was for so long. But we’re glad it finally saw the light of day, and that like all the best concepts it asks more questions than it answers.
In a world where even family hatchbacks are competing to set the fastest time in the class around the Nurburgring, Nissan offers a leftfield approach. The Cube has been around in Japan for years, but now Europe and the US are getting the second generation. Why? Nissan realise that most drivers aren’t interested in the minutae of cornering finesse, or top speed; they’re interested in something that manages to provide huge utility, but have personality at the same time. The Cube has both in spades. Essentially a box-on-wheels, it features a ‘sun and moon’ set of dials, ‘curvy wave’ seating, and asymmetric styling in the shape of one side rear window turning around the corner into the rear windshield. When he had one on test recently, Michael Banovsky noted “I feel awful leaving the cube downstairs at night. He looks so sad”. It’s the kind of car that elicits such feelings. Jean Jennings, Automobile Magazine and long-time Spark friend, raved about it to us recently, too.
They’re by no means universally loved, nor were Audi first to introduce LED headlight technology, but through smart design strategy and brilliant detailed execution, Audi have taken ownership of the LED headlight. Subtly different on the R8, A6, A5 and A4, the wavy bands of bright white lights, piercing through the daylight when in DRL mode, are now as much an Audi identification hallmark as the shield grille and four rings - leaving you in no doubt as to just which type of car is behind you, and would like you to move over, thank you very much…