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Car Design News takes an in-depth look at the Changan VIIA concept and its clever use of lighting both inside and out
Changan’s design activities continue at pace, and the brand has shared with CDN some extensive background on its hotly anticipated concept car, the VIIA.
Originally teased at the end of 2022 and shown later at the 2023 Shanghai auto show, the VIIA manages to blend a traditional coupe silhouette with an interior that is unapologetically high-tech. As the team explains, lighting – or light beams more specifically – was a central theme to the project.
Indeed, closer inspection of the front end reveals intricate exterior lighting, not only for the headlights but also in the central grille area. Smart panels run as strips along the shoulder line of the car, integrated directly within the door panels. A single thin line runs from the peak of the headlight right through to the rear, dropping down to join the taillights. Featuring an arrowhead design which tapers from out to in, the design mirrors that of the front end only this time in red. The surfacing is otherwise clean and unadulterated with badges, intakes or unnecessary creases.
Further down below the waist line, the rear mask is accented by a red-tipped diffuser which ties in nicely with the sculptural side skirts and subtle front splitter. The rims also carry red piping, although in some lights it looks more like a vibrant pink. Either way, it is a welcome pop of colour that chimes nicely with the dark metallic silver.
Perhaps the most intriguing element of the design is the line that flows from the roof through to the boot lid, which cuts back at an opposing angle to create a sharp point at the tail. From side view, this almost simulates a perfect arrowhead tip when combined with those taillights.
Although the bonnet is expansive and much longer than we have seen from many electric sportscars of late, this pointed rear boot helps to create a dynamic stance – the car almost looks as if it is being stretched backwards as it travels at high speed. The arches are gently flared at the front and more so at the rear, and when viewed from above the hard lines of the nose and rear appear much softer. Some clever work from the exterior design team, no doubt.
All this stems from Changan’s new design language developed for this project: “All Encompassed – Embracing the Infinite.” It essentially boils down to a combination of what the brand describes as “natural imagery and forward-looking technology.”
We love gaming, and the VIIA cockpit showcases a blend of virtual and perceived design
Take that objectively beautiful exterior form, for example, which contrasts with the futuristic use of lighting to accent the bodywork and create a graphic identity at each end. The interior, too, is more tech-forward but also amplifies the excitement of driving a car. The seats provide the same kind of support offered by a racing bucket seat, but are designed in a way that would not look out of place on a spacecraft.
The steering wheel is small and light just like a race car, but is shaped more like a videogame controller. There is very little distraction from gadgets, dials and controls throughout the cabin – no cupholders and no centre console even. It is clearly designed for the task of driving, yet at the same time, a pillar-to-pillar digital display brings it into the future. The concept is full of these contrasting themes that play off one another, combining the conventional with the bleeding edge.
There is a clear emphasis on lighting both inside and out. Indeed, the team drew inspiration from the idea of “light beams” and this can be seen not only on the exterior but also with the icy blue glow that wraps around the doorcards and IP and floods the footwells.
Changan says the relationship between car and driver continues to evolve, and part of the idea behind the VIIA concept was to imagine a vehicle that offers different driving modes – but not in a way you might think. Beyond sport, comfort or efficiency mode, the VIIA offers driving mode, gaming mode and drone mode.
“We need a drone because it acts as an extra pair of eyes, leading us to appreciate more unseen scenery,” the team explains. “We love gaming because of our boundless imagination and our desire to explore an unlimited spiritual world. The VIIA cockpit showcases a blend of virtual and actually perceived design.”
The VIIA is ultimately more than a show car, then. Like any good concept should, it showcases a future design direction for Changan under the design concept of “All Encompassed.” It will be exciting to see how the themes shown here influence the Changan portfolio in time.
Learn more about the Changan Automobile Design Center Europe here.