‘There’s more to great design than just a sexy shape’

Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks we're entering a golden age of car design

Talking to car designers is one of the biggest perks of my job. They’re the Hollywood A-listers of the car business; guys and girls who are some of the coolest – and most talented – people on the planet. Any time spent with them, even in my smartest attire, makes my own sense of style seem deeply inadequate.

Lockdown has provided an added opportunity to chat to designers – and not to feel quite so inferior, although even their more relaxed clobber outshines mine.

And lockdown, it seems, has given them valuable thinking time – time for them to be at their most creative. Never mind a supposed baby boom in nine months’ time, I’m hoping we’ll see a raft of radical concept cars heading our way later this year.

Jaguar’s design director, Julian Thomson, told me that he thought there would be a new mindfulness among car buyers, with electrification playing a larger part.

“I think this could mean that people are much more reflective about life; they want healthier, more wholesome lives with greater meaning,” he said.

Thomson believes that could have an effect on the design and materials used inside cars, too. “People will be more concerned about personal spaces and their health in their cars; the air quality,” he told me. “Those little capsules will be more of an escapist unit, so I think material is going to be very, very important.”

Two of my favourite concepts recently have come from SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai design centre, with the 45 and Prophecy. These are two very different styles – reaffirming Lee’s desire to avoid ‘Russian doll’ designs for Hyundai models. Instead he says the family look comes from a greater focus on clever lighting tech as on the Prophecy (above).

We’re about to enter a golden age of design where detail matters more – inside and out. Technology will allow designers to do that, meaning even more beautiful cars.

Check out the latest new cars due in 2020 below..

Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

Most Popular

New Renault 4 EV: price, specs, release date and all the details
Renault 4 - front (watermarked)
News

New Renault 4 EV: price, specs, release date and all the details

Renault’s retro revolution will continue with a new version of the iconic Renault 4 as a small electric car. Here’s everything we know about it
2 Mar 2024
"BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault are among the most impressive and in-touch car brands in the world"
Opinion - MG3
Opinion

"BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault are among the most impressive and in-touch car brands in the world"

Mike Rutherford is confused as to why so many car manufacturers avoided the 2024 Geneva Motor Show
3 Mar 2024
New Kia EV9 Air 2024 review: entry-level model is appealing in almost every way
Kia EV9 Air - front
Road tests

New Kia EV9 Air 2024 review: entry-level model is appealing in almost every way

The all-electric Kia EV9 SUV has a new entry-point, and it just might be the pick of the range
1 Mar 2024