The image of cars on a parking
Now that SUV sales are in freefall, the onus is squarely on designers to produce concepts that not only possess lots of character, but are also easy to live with.
It’s a fantastic challenge with many exciting possibilities.
One such approach is the Suzuki PX concept, which was recently shown at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. The PX is a bold statement. It is immediately reminiscent of the ageless, classic Airstream trailer.
But although its inspiration may be industrial and retro, it succeeds in looking fun and funky. My favourite angle is the rear three-quarter view, where all the elements come together beautifully.
Compared with today’s crossover offerings, the PX is a breath of fresh air.
The interior of the PX, as it was presented, unfortunately does not jive with the exterior. While certainly entertaining, the interior looks like it has undergone a Pimp My Ride makeover.
For some reason Suzuki presented the PX as a four-seater — it is certainly long enough to incorporate three rows of seating. With just four seats, there’s limo-like rear legroom, and to complete the theme, the seats were over-the-top examples with over-adorned Recaro logos, and a couple of glasses of champagne at the ready in the cupholders.
Once again, we see an overuse of metal surfaces on the interior. Believe me, lots of metal is not what you want inside a vehicle!
If the PX makes it to the real world, and I really hope it does, it will need a real world interior.
- Rear view is just brilliant.
- Rounded rear recalls the Airstream trailer.
- Twin-cowl dashboard is a tired theme (Corvette, Mustang, etc.).
- Interior has too many metal surfaces, (dash, seat backs, steering wheel, etc.).
- Those big 20-inch wheels placed at the corners make a great stance.
- Front end is a bit too heavy; for one thing it should go on a slat-reduction program.
- Great use of simple horizontal trim on sides helps to reinforce the “streamliner effect.”Paul Deutschman of Deutschman Design Inc. is a Montreal-based automotive designer (www.deutschmandesign.com).
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The PX is an unusual and surprising design exercise.
Firstly, it is a funky, futuristic minivan — inside and out — from a company known mostly for motorcycles, and automobiles in the economic/utilitarian vein.
Secondly, it is a wonderful interpretation of the original French, early Art Deco exterior design style, peppered with some hints of the North American streamlined movement.
And thirdly, it comes with a curious marketing message … “designed as private space for men” … What? No girls allowed?
With virtually no classic heritage design of its own from which to draw, Suzuki designers opted for an icon of industrial design — the French Deco style. Not to be confused with the more geometrically busy, three-dimensional American style, the early French Deco is characterized by extreme simplicity and elegance. The style is notable for restraint, and the absence of chrome and flat surfaces.
The tall front end is vintage European. The overall streamlining effect — which is more American in origin — is mostly noticeable from the rear, where the roundness of the tall tailgate and the taillights are textbook Airstream.
Somewhat surprising, however, is that the exterior’s simplicity is not reproduced inside. It’s an opulent interior, laced with all the chrome, leather and gadgets one (man) can think of. Not quite sure what the designers were trying to achieve here. Batchelor pad? Fifties rec-room? A cocooning environment? Design-wise it contains mixtures of late, pop-culture modernism, some hints of the car dashboard circa 1955, and, with the gadget-laden IP, some aspects of full-blown futurama. What is clear, however, is that comfort, function and gadgets override any unifying style or design.
Despite this dichotomy — or maybe because of it — this is quite an exciting and strong design ideology, and considering that Suzuki has no minivan in its lineup (with the exception of the minuscule Every not sold here), it’s a real pity that the company has no plans to build the PX.
- Beautiful integration of the tail pipes into the bumper’s surface, but probably wouldn’t be feasible in the real world.
- Typical 1950s’ arched separation. Bombastic steering wheel. Busy console. Despite the fanfare, it still manages to make sense as a functional unit.
- Rounded roof and tailgate is a classic Airstream shape. Shape also works well with bumper and large fenders.
- Tall engine hood is devoid of any creases, intakes or separation lines.
- Three-piece grille is an extremely simple and efficient architecture. No chrome.
- Lighting units have a typical mechanical look; slotted and shaded, they’re almost hidden.
- A masculine ‘mother ship’ interior, with Recaro seating, large speakers, visual displays, and an undeniable feel of comfort.Michael Pistol, of Michael Pistol Automobile Studio, is an art concept automobile designer/ builder and automotive journalist specialized in design and marketing (email@example.com).