The Renault Sport RS 01 is the company's first series-production result of its intention to re-enter the sports car segment, as signalled by the DeZir and Alpine A 110-50 concepts. The car, however, is a track-only creation for the World Series by Renault racing championships.
While we usually wouldn't cover racing cars, Renault's design department has clearly been heavily involved in the RS 01's development. Why else would its prominent diamond badge be so neatly integrated into a front mask that dramatically feeds through into the carved-out door surface? Or its rear lamp graphics so carefully crafted to capture Renault's latest internal trend? The design of this car was dictated as much by its leverage as a marketing tool as it was by aerodynamics.
At 2,000mm wide and just 1,116mm high its proportions are as dramatic as you might imagine. But, some graphics aside, it's difficult to see how lead designer Akio Shimizu related to Renault's distinctive surfacing we've seen since the aforementioned DeZir.
After three highly-regarded concept cars and a rather extended gestation period, the first of the new generation of Volvo cars, the XC90 SUV, has been unveiled.
Designed – at least latterly – under the auspices of Thomas Ingenlath, who joined the sole remaining Swedish brand from VW as its design director in March 2012, the new Volvo XC90 is the first to sit on the company's new, modular SPA platform (Scalable Product Architecture, if you're interested). This allows more freedom in terms of proportions, with a particularly generous axle-to-dashboard distance.
Some may have hoped the Concepts Coupe, XC Coupe and Estate were a more accurate marker of the forthcoming production cars, but it's clear to see the continuation of the themes. In particular the grille and what the company describes as 'Thor's hammer' lamp graphics are the new face of the brand. On the evidence of these images however, the surfacing appears rather more cluttered both than the concepts and, indeed, the company's recent production cars. We'll wait until we see it in Paris in a few weeks to discover if the BMW and Skoda cues are simply a trick of the lens...
We've seen its interior previously, with its stripped-back secondary controls, mainly replaced by the large, portrait touchscreen. We're eager to discover the development of the car, in particular if the interior architecture was largely frozen by the time new head of interiors Robin Page arrived from Bentley. Certainly the integration of the central screen and the sparse-looking switchgear suggest a clean-sheet design wasn't permitted.
We'll bring you further details and the full story from Paris on 2 and 3 October.
Skoda gave us its first indication of the new Fabia's design direction at the Geneva show earlier this year. There, its new city car's lines were upscaled to fit the VisionC coupé concept, memorable as much for its nuclear green paint job as its sharpened surfaces.
As a result, the third-generation Fabia's design springs few surprises. It shares a similar DRG to the larger Rapid and Octavia models, including the chrome-edged grille and more technical, sharper-edged headlights. The hood has gained more prominent creases at its edges to emphasize the fact that this new model is a useful 90mm wider than before.
Given the wider VW Group's preoccupation with 'emotional' and 'sporty' designs, it's no surprise to see the Fabia steered in this direction. This seems particularly evident with the tornado line's section that deepens as it runs between the fenders, giving a muscular shoulder, and the sharp upkick at the base of the C-pillar that tightens up the old car's hockey-stick-shaped curve.
Horizontal lines dominate at the rear and are closely integrated with the design of the tail-lamps, bolstering the perception of precision and solidity that you'd expect from the VW Group's value-focused brand.
However, to ensure it keeps that value tag, the Fabia uses an upgraded version of the outgoing model's platform. For that reason, despite the increase in width and a 30mm-drop in overall height, the Fabia doesn't entirely appear to have shaken off the top-heavy look of its predecessor, although we'll be able to judge that – and the car's as-yet unrevealed interior – for ourselves at the Paris motor show this October.
Kia has released pictures of the exterior of its new Sorento, ahead of the car's debut at the Paris Motor Show in October. It's the third generation of the Korean firm's mid-size SUV, and first impressions are that it conforms to the inexorable trend towards crossover aesthetics shown by both the Sorento itself - which has transitioned from utility-focused body-on-frame SUV to its latest car-like form - and its rivals.
The Sorento gains 95mm in length, taking it to 4,780mm, with 80mm of that increase being the wheelbase, which now measures 2,780mm. The car is also slightly lower and wider than before.
Viewed in profile, the new car appears closer in proportions to its sister model, the Hyundai Santa Fe, although the Kia's beltline is higher and its D-pillar treatment is the inverse of the Hyundai's.
Kia's communications about the car concern 'premium look and feel.' In terms of design, that appears to extend to a larger, more upright grille, reminiscent of BMW's latest X5, which connects with lamps that would look at home on the nose of a Volvo SUV.
The design increases the distance between the Sorento and Kia's smaller crossover, the Sportage, and appears to set a subtler tone for the look of the firm's future crossover lineup.
Hyundai's second-generation i20, designed at Hyundai Motor's Design Center Europe in Rüsselsheim, Germany, is the first to feature the firm's new small-car platform. Hyundai claims this allows sufficient flexibility to make the (as-yet unrevealed) interior the most spacious in its class.
As for the exterior, the distinction between what is a Kia and what's a Hyundai becomes ever-more blurred. The geometric headlamps, slender grille and lower trapezoidal intake are found in similar form on Kia's i20 equivalent, the Rio, although the intake's pout is perhaps closer to a Peugeot 208.
In profile, the surfaces are relatively simple, with a single character line running to the tail-lamps. Unlike its predecessor, this no-longer curves down abruptly at the car's rear. The old car's vertical tail-lamps are replaced by horizontal LED units similar to those on Kia's larger Cee'd, while the feature line running down from the lamps and across the bumper is straight from the smaller Kia Venga.
The blacked-out C-pillar also stands out, as it isn't quite as successfully resolved as it is on a Citroen DS3. We'll have to reserve full judgement until we see the car on the show stand at the Paris Motor Show, although that seems the perfect location for its debut, given its Franco-Korean aesthetic.
The Mazda2 city car is the fourth production car to be designed using the firm's Kodo form language. As with the CX-5, Mazda3 and Mazda6, it also gets the full set of Skyactiv chassis, engine and transmission technologies that are designed to help distinguish Mazda's products in the crowded mainstream segments in which it competes.
There's strong continuity between models - the new 2 features the now-familiar long hood, overhanging nose, bulging front fenders and upkicked beltline used on the larger cars.
To suit this latest, smaller application of the form language, there's now a body-colored strip in the grille. Although downsized, the grille now has seven sides rather than five, while the chrome trim that runs beneath it is more substantial than on the larger 3.
This still runs into the lamps, as per the larger Mazdas, but these are now a little larger, with softer edges. Combined with the fog lamps that are smaller and have moved in-board, and the 2's face appears less overtly aggressive than the 3, although a little more focussed than the big grin of the outgoing model.
The new model is similar in profile to its predecessor, although the tail is faster. At the rear, the 2 shows influence from Alfa Romeo's MiTo, particularly with the shape of the rear screen, and the license-plate holder.
Inside, the Mazda looks to Audi's A1 and A3 for inspiration, with a clean IP broken up by large, circular air vents, and a trio of HVAC controls in the center stack. The center screen, head-up display and gauge pack are descended from the Mazda3.
We'll get our first chance to see the Mazda2 at the Paris motor show in October. The car goes on sale in Japan as the Demio in the fall, and in Europe in late 2014.