The Citroën Aircross concept is the brand's affirmation of its intention to enter the mid-sized crossover/SUV market. And while its smaller C4 Cactus may be a Europe-only model, this car's launch at next month's Shanghai Motor Show demonstrates the desire to also enter the brand's largest market, China.
At 4588mm long, with a wheelbase of 2800mm, it's a little shorter than the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Audi Q5, despite its more rugged appearance. The exterior, by lead exterior designer Gregory Blanchet, is a mixture of now-familiar Citroën elements; the split-level lamps with dominant upper DRLs, a horizontal beltline and soft, full volumes with little surface decoration are mixed with robust, off-road-inspired details including chunky, plastic-shrouded tow hooks and lower body protection, as well as ‘Alloy Bumps'. The latter are a play on the Cactus' Air Bumps, but rather than squishy air-filled plastic pockets, here they're aluminum honeycomb to provide off-road protection along the rockers.
The concept builds on Citroën's exterior theme of functional graphics with the addition of 'Air Signs,' which are the chrome rings around each rear window. These perform the dual role of guiding the flow of air around the rear of the car, while also drawing attention to the rear seats – reinforcing the car's focus on Chinese-market preferences, rather than solely Europe as with the Cactus.
The Aircross interior features four 'king-size' seats with wraparound headrests finished in a retro woven fabric. The headrests also include individual speakers and microphones, allowing passengers to communicate in hushed tones. The car's grand touring ability is highlighted with the use of leather belts for the door pulls, glove compartment handle, center console and cupholders, recalling trunks or large suitcases.
The gauge pack and infotainment theme builds on the Cactus's digital gauge pack and center screen, replacing both with a pair of 12-inch HD displays. The vivid color choices for the gauges are noteworthy for breaking with automotive trends towards the skeuomorphic, while the center screen can be slid across to the passenger.
Citroën's decision to continue with the direction established by the Cactus is an encouraging one, and proof – we hope – that using strong design to sell cars is working. We look forward to seeing the Aircross for ourselves in China.
The Hyundai Enduro crossover concept has been unveiled at the firm's home motor show in Seoul, South Korea. Taking the form of a three-door crossover, the concept measures 4271mm long, 1852mm wide and 1443mm tall, and has a 2650mm wheelbase, making it a little larger, but with the same wheelbase, as the current Veloster.
The concept gives an idea of how Hyundai is likely to evolve its corporate trapezoidal grille, introducing curved edges to each of its faces. Two of its sides form tusk-like metallic graphics that flow out form the leading edge of the wheelarch cladding, while its bottom edge is removed completely, visually lowering the car despite its crossover pretentions.
The black wheelarch graphics are the most overt SUV reference, dominating the car's side profile and playing up the car's rally-raid inspiration that also informed its name. By way of subtle contrast, the roof rack is neatly integrated into the cant rails, while the C-pillars are technically flying buttresses, with a rear lamps running up their rear-most edges, and right across the upper edge of the tailgate.
Practical touches include a step integrated into the rocker, so that the roof rack is more easily reached, while the rear includes a draw storage area that pulls out of the bumper.
No pictures have been released of the interior so far.
The Optima is Kia's best-selling nameplate worldwide, thanks in no small part to the major step forward taken when the outgoing model was introduced at the New York show back in 2010. Five-years later and the new car, previewed by the Sportspace concept in Geneva, offers an understandable evolution of the old model.
It's a little larger in all dimensions, but the overriding themes are carried over. The corporate grille and lamps are graphically similar to before, albeit a little more complex in detail. Similarly, the lower mask has been tweaked so now separates the foglamps and horizontal intake, which were integrated into one form before.
The bonnet shutline, which rises up the fenders from the lamps is carried over, while the C-pillar graphic is slightly less angular this time around. The bodyside surfaces are cleaner, too.
Inside, the changes are more overt. The IP is still angled towards the driver, but with a greater emphasis on the horizontal than before This includes metal-look trim that runs its full width, switching the orientation of the air vents and moving them down below the infotainment screen and introducing a concave surface that runs between the front door cards across the dashtop to further emphasize the theme.
There also appears to be a move towards higher material quality, with an increase in the use of soft-touch materials and exposed stitching, while effort has also been made to add new interior color options, including merlot or aubergine leather. Check back for our report from New York soon to ascertain whether this is the case.
While the new Optima made its debut at the New York show, Kia used its home show in Seoul, South Korea, to unveil the Novo concept, which introduces themes that will appear on its next generation of models.
The Novo is a four-door coupe designed at its Namyang studio, and built on Kia's global C-segment platform, as used by the Forte in the US and Cee'd in Europe. The proportions are more exaggerated than its donors, with a short front overhang and elongated rear.
The familiar corporate 'tiger snout' returns, albeit now in slightly wider form, physically linked to the lamps, which are reduced in size. The headlamps, foglamps and taillamps of the concept are all lasers, giving a new light signature which will doubtless become a new production-car signifier.
The shutline of the concept's clamshell hood blends into a single major featureline that links the front and rear lamps. Kia calls the green colorway ' thoroughly contemporary.' Although the metallic door vent and roof detail add a certain future-looking mechanoid quality, to our eyes, the combination of green and metallic elements recalls the 1970s 911 Targa.
The interior builds on the simplified, horizontal theme of the Optima concept shown at Geneva. Intriguing HMI highlights include a holographic gauge pack, center touchpad and a fingerprint scanner that is programmed with each users unique preferences for seat position, climate and audio functions.
The fourth-generation Lexus RX has debuted at the New York Auto Show, complete with similarly striking, angular forms to those established on the smaller NX. As its best-selling model, the RX is another, significant step in confirming Lexus' strategy to distance itself from its premium rivals by using refreshingly different design.
The spindle grille remains one of the car's more divisive elements. Larger than ever this time, and dominating the car's slender lamps, the grille is bordered with chrome that is thicker along its bottom edge. The surround and grille bars themselves are chamfered, too, presumably combining to reinforce the car's stability and safety to its target family demographic.
The front overhang is extremely long, with the creases of the front wheelarch moving well back into the front door. However, the feature line that runs back from the bumper, over the arch and through the front door handle appears to help mitigate this issue a little.
The broken C-pillar treatment is arguably bolder than some of the graphics used on the NX, and marks the first time this has been used on a Lexus production car. The rear evolves the look of the last RX, although again with an increased focus on emphasizing width, using a chrome bar to link the lamps.
Interior highlights include a separate, central 12.3-inch screen atop the IP, giving widescreen mapping, while high-grade cars get laser-cut Yamaha trim on the center stack that recalls grand pianos as part of a wider effort to increase perceived quality in the cabin. Our verdict from New York will be delivered in a separate report.
Chevrolet's New York Auto Show centerpiece is the 2016 Malibu. The mid-size sedan has become a staple of the North American rental car circuit, and all the negative connotations that carries, prompting a significant design rethink this time around.
The exterior design is now more closely aligned with the larger 2014 Impala, and both cars now share very similar exterior dimensions. The new car's hood is lower than its predecessor, encouraging narrower headlamps and a wider version of the corporate Chevrolet two-tier grille. Combined with the addition of new LED DRLs, the Malibu's face has a sportier, more horizontal appearance, despite being the same width as the outgoing model.
The bodysides have some interesting surfacing, including a character line that drops from behind the front wheelarch down to the rear arch, before rising back up again to index with the rear lamps. As with the Impala, the rear deck features a fairly prominent integrated spoiler, although the way this is formed on the Malibu, extending from a second, more horizontal feature line, is better resolved.
The interior seems to offer a step forward in ergonomics, with a much clearer delineation between controls in the center stack - the infotainment system is incorporated into a touchscreen that stands proud of the stack, as it does in the new Volt, while the HVAC controls sit separately underneath. There's also a greater use of satin chrome trim as part of a wider effort to improve material quality throughout. We''ll see for ourselves if this is the case on the show floor.