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.
If this fifth-generation Opel Corsa looks familiar, that's because this is more a heavy facelift than an all-new car.
Opel has concentrated efforts on the eight-year old Corsa's mechanicals rather than an all-new bodyshell. Instead every exterior panel has been redesigned, alongside the entire interior.
This is the first Corsa developed under GM Europe's VP of design, Mark Adams and his influence is clear to see, with the incorporation of the lower bodyside 'blade' surface and the pouting mouth of the Adam.
While its proportions and upper body are clearly carried over, the new nose treatment in particular disguises the car's high scuttle thanks to the lower grille, lamps and diving shoulderline. The hood also gains a deeply recessed center surface that visually cheats down its height.
In order to disguise the carryover glass, the rear of the five-door version's DLO now kicks up at the base of the C-pillar rather than running through into the rear, giving a stronger aesthetic. Meanwhile the three-door has sprouted a Peugeot 208-esque extension to its window surround, intended to stretch out its window graphic.
The rear of both versions feature two-part lamps that spill over onto the tailgate, visually widening the car alongside the more horizontal emphasis of the feature lines.
It's difficult to assess from photographs how these changes will alter the character of the car, so we will reserve judgement until it makes its official debut at the Paris motor show in October.
Inside, the new IP also places emphasis on horizontal lines to create a greater feeling of space despite the unchanged dimensions, while the Adam donates much of its switchgear and the 'IntelliLink' 7-inch screen that sits in the center stack. This features the latest connectivity and infotainment software including Apple's Siri Eyes Free, while the car also features advanced safety features such as road sign recognition, blind spot alert and a collision warning system that uses a heads-up projection onto the windscreen.
The strategy of updating, rather than completely renewing, a model in this highly competitive European segment is certainly a risk although undoubtedly one that will be lucrative if it pays off.
The exterior design of the Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan has been unveiled and, much to our disappointment, it appears to be a productionized version of last year's FCV concept, a car we felt one of the least impressive of 2013 in terms of design resolution.
The Fuel Cell Sedan retains the FCV's gaping lower mask gills that appear to be blanked-off in this instance. They lend the car a very aggressive, hungry face – surely a negative message for a car that majors on a technology that promises to be incredibly efficient and environmentally-friendly. These triangular 'intakes' form the leading edge of the front fender surfaces that set up a bow-wave surfacing treatment intended to represent the water the fuel cell emits.
As a theme this is compelling. However, the static stance of the car – with very long, equal-length front and rear overhangs – combined with the lower body's visual weight, gives the appearance of heaviness and lethargy. Again, the wrong message for a revolutionary propulsion system.
Other elements such as the floating hood surface and cant rails, as well as the stratified rear lamp graphics add to the car's character and distinctiveness, and Toyota should be applauded for doing so after a lifetime of criticizm of its designs' blandness.
And of course Toyota will argue that people will be compelled to buy (or perhaps lease, rent etc.) the Fuel Cell Sedan on the merit of its undoubtedly brilliant technology alone. However the frustration is that this poor level of design communication may well prove a repellant for many when there was a clear opportunity to compel when the car goes on sale next year.
Nissan is the latest manufacturer to unveil a virtual concept car for Polyphony's Gran Turismo game, appropriately based on its GT-R flagship.
Designed by the team at Nissan Design Europe in London, the 2020 Vision Gran Turismo takes the broad themes of the GT-R and transposes them into a far more extreme expression of its character. The vertical front and circular rear lamps are familiar, while the tapered DLO and bodyside graphic are also recognizable, but its proportions are new – wildly low and wide.
Wilder still is its surfacing, with extreme offsets through its body section, layered aero elements, wheelarches that incorporate exhaust outlets behind the front wheels and a Gandini-like hexagonal rear graphic.
The rear of the Vision Gran Turismo is dominated by the vast lower venturi to suck it to the (virtual) circuit. Equally dominant is the wing pressing its tail down, bracketed by the iconic four round lamps.
BMW rolled the dice with the original X6, but soon realized its problem would be lack of production capacity at its plant in Spartanburg, SC than a lack of customers - over 250,000 X6s have found homes since it arrived in 2008.
It comes as no surprise that a second-generation model has now arrived, but as much as the first was revolutionary, establishing an entirely new SUV sub-genre, the new X6 appears much more evolutionary.
At 4,909mm long, 1,989mm wide and 1,702mm tall, the new car grows by just 34mm in length, 4mm in width and 12mm in height. Curiously, the wheelbase is 2mm shorter, at 1,933mm.
While the dimensions and proportions are similar, there are numerous detail changes, including a larger, more vertical grille; bigger, more bejeweled lamps and fussier bumpers.
In profile, the first X6 had a single feature line that ran from front fender to tail-lamp. That line is now broken, with the curved crease in the rear fender similar to that of other BMW X models.
Fittingly, the X6 will launch at the Moscow motor show. It'll also have a direct rival for the first time, when Mercedes launches a car in 2015, based on the Concept Coupé SUV it revealed in Beijing.
We don't normally cover the addition of new variants to an established model range, but the five-door version of the latest, third generation Mini is an exception.
In terms of pure numbers, the new model is 161mm longer than the Hatch, at 3,982mm, and has a 72mm-longer wheelbase, at 2,567mm. Standing 1,425mm high makes it 11mm taller.
Both cars are the same from the nose to the A-pillar, with the gain in dimensions to facilitate space for rear-seat passengers and in the luggage area, which grows by 67 liters, to 278 liters.
The extra 89mm of rear overhang gives this new model proportions caught somewhere between a hatchback and a wagon - a reference to the latest Mini model line-up's rationalized approach, comprising the Hatch, 5 door and more conventional Clubman due next year.
A wheel-at-each-corner stance has long been a Mini signifier, but the third generation car's elongated nose has reduced that definition, and the proportions of the five-door model move even further away. However, although the longer tail appears to bring a little more balance the latest car's enlarged nose.
Inside, there's now space for three in the rear, with 72 millimetres more foot space and legroom, 15 millimetres more headroom and 61 millimetres more interior width at elbow height than in the three-door version. The rear door cards have a C-shaped detail that reflects those in the front.