Two Designers Agree: One of the Best Isn’t a Geneva Debut
While wandering the halls of the Geneva Palexpo center, I ran into my second favorite Ed in the auto industry, Ed Welburn, head of design for GM. Welburn, in town for the launch of the Corvette Grand Sport, is at the very pinnacle of automotive design and is an icon in the business, and when he talks, you listen. I asked him the kinds of questions everyone asks on day two of the Geneva show: “What do you like? And what about that Bugatti?”
Ed smiled, shook his head, and said, “Isn’t that wild? It’s not something I would draw—but I took a picture of it.”
I asked him what else he took pictures of and his answers continued to surprise.
“The Mitsubishi SUV concept,” he said, referring to the chartreuse eX Concept Electric Crossover. “Isn’t that something? And the Mazda RX-Vision – the surfacing and dash-to-axle ratio on that is just amazing!”
Indeed, the RX-Vision, a darling of the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, made its European debut in Geneva and clearly drew traffic to an otherwise quiet Mazda booth, as I found out later from designer Sang Yup Lee.
Lee is Bentley‘s affable head of exterior design who penned the EXP 10 Speed and Bentayga. His debut at the Geneva show was the substantial refresh of Bentley’s flagship Mulsanne. Earlier in his career, Lee worked for Welburn at GM from 1999 to 2009, and is credited for his role in a number of groundbreaking GM projects, including leading the design team in charge of the C5 and C6 Corvettes. So perhaps it wasn’t such a surprise that Lee also found the Mazda RX-Vision concept stunning.
“It’s really cool, so pure, so simple,” said Lee. “It has a timeless beauty and ‘pure-istic’ design. I’m mesmerized by the body surface; the body sides – so simple – with a lot of the twist in the surface. There is not even a single line in the whole car – just volume, pure volume.”
Lee compared what he saw in the RX-Vision to another of Geneva’s big reveals, the Aston Martin DB11. “I clearly understand the look of the DB11, but Aston Martin to me is about the beauty, the sexy, the pure proportion. Of course they gain a lot in terms of the functional beauty they added into it, but as much as they gain, they lose in sexiness of the car. Unlike the DB5,” he said, referencing the classic made famous in the James Bond movies. That car was positioned next to the DB11 at the Aston Martin stand.
“I look at the Mazda, the purity, the simple body side, and I thought that could be really nice on the Aston Martin DB11’s body sides, because you look at the DB5 and it’s so simple, so sexy. There are no lines just a purity of approach!”
“I really like the Mazda concept because when I look at the car, I really start thinking about the pure sides and the simplicity of it. I really like a car that makes me think,” concluded Lee.
We do too. Which is why we like talking to people who spend a lot time thinking about cars. Check out more of our favorite cars from the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.