Ultimate styling

Spotted in my work car park- in yellow, is my own recent acquisition. A Coupé Fiat, a car that inspired me to want a career in car design. I read in Car Magazine the story of it’s design in 1993, and how Chris Bangle wrestled with this pure sculptural and radical artistic shape (over humble Tipo base!). In front of it is a grey SUV, perhaps a Lexus? Perhaps a large Toyota or Nissan? No it’s also an Italian design… a Lamborghini Urus! I’ve seen these in the metal a few times and they always deeply disappoint in terms of design. Also a pure styling exercise on top of ordinary underpinnings (Audi platform), but even more extravagant than the Fiat. Where the Fiat has slashes that enable a clamshell bonnet, or breaking up a tall rear 3/4, the lines and creases are all over the Lamborghini. To reduce the massive height and imbue some sportiness- Lamborghini designers were allowed to add creases on creases and mouldings on top of metal. The clear difference is one was developed by hand modelling techniques and one was purely digital. The digital process is fast and loose and dirty. The result is messy but exciting. Like an untidy sketch of a car, and perhaps that’s the point. Who needs perfection anyway?

Fake single hub nuts- using a cheap plastic cover- feels kind of tacky?
Amazing- a tiny pointless crease in the middle of the chrome part here (plastic of course). Why?

5 responses to “Ultimate styling”

  1. The Fiat Coupé is regularly cited as a paragon of car design. However I hated it from first sight. It does not sit comfortably on the road. It may be an interesting sculptural form, but it fails to function as a pleasing car design that looks happy in its relationship to the tarmac it sits on – in my view.


    1. The Fiat Coupe belongs to me and I love it… so I will defend it! It does not fail to function as pleasing car design, in my view. It is interesting and expertly sculptural, and other designers appreciate the task that Bangle took on (BMW were impressed enough to hire him). The FWD platform of the ancient narrow and tall Fiat Tipo, seemed an extremely unlikely candidate for anything sporty. The designers were given a very difficult brief in other words, and the result could’ve been much much worse. The Fiat Barchetta also expertly masked it’s Punto underpinnings, and was also created under Chris Bangle and Leonardo Fioravanti’s guidance. The skill of a car designer becomes clear when forced to cope with extreme restrictions (platforms, packaging). Success depends on styling ideas, sculptural finesse, and ultimately just hands-on feel for something that feels more than the sum of its parts. The “relationship to the tarmac” is extremely restricted by a very narrow tracked platform with a high scuttle/firewall, and also being forced to use 15″ or 16″ wheels. My car sits on the largest factory 16″ option. Other cars that used variations on this platform were the Alfa Romeo 145 and 156.


      1. I completely understand it is a “Marmite” car…. people either love it or hate it, and for me that is a simply a sign that it is a characterful design. Just because it is disliked does not mean it is badly designed. That some people LOVE it is the clue to the emotional quality of the design.


  2. “With just a few elegant and accurate lines, it is possible to create a new Lamborghini,” says Mitja Borkert, Head of Design at the Lamborghini Centro Stile…” That’s a quote directly from Lamborghini’s own website, a website which features the Urus itself. I counted at least 14 lines which make up the elaborate criss-cross of creases on the side profile of the Urus. I genuinely struggle to find the elegant lines Borkert first sketched out on paper; I’m sure they are there, but they are somewhat lost. My guess is he started with the hexagonal wheel arches and then went to work trying to hide the bulk of the inevitably expansive body work.

    The challenge of adapting the Lamborghini style on the fairly conventional SUV VAG platform is hard, really hard, so I can understand how we ended up with the final result. Look at the Cayenne mk1, basically a similar design brief with equally challenging results (albeit much softer). There is sooo much space on the side of the body between those 23” wheels.

    I realise designers have a need for oversized wheels to mask inadequacies in the rest of the vehicle design and overall packaging, but it seems the proportions of a car need to expand to accommodate the big wheels as a result. Therefore big wheels = square miles of metal = creases and lines to break it up.

    I could now share my thoughts on vents, and fake diffusers on a SUV but I think that’s for another day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree- and whatever Mitja has said is proof that designers must learn to “talk the talk” which is…. by and large… total nonsense “designer speak” and sadly quite generic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: