Very few cars are simply utilitarian any more – almost every model is designed to say something about its owner. UK buyers have very high expectations about the quality and design of their vehicles so manufacturers pull out their best designs to tempt them.
A good design can mean a few things – it could be a car that makes incredibly intelligent use of its platform, i.e. having lots of interior space within a compact exterior, or it could be a car that looks so arrestingly beautiful that it draws gasps from passers-by, or a combination of these things.
There have been some stonkingly clever design in 2014 so we picked those we felt were both the most intelligent and attractive.
Citroen C4 Cactus
The Citroen C4 Cactus sits on the same platform as the Peugeot 308, but unlike the other cars that share this platform, Citroen has put a huge amount of effort into reducing weight. The company has successfully dropped the weight of the car to around 1,000kg – significantly lighter than anything else in its class, and indeed, plenty of smaller cars too. It’s achieved this by fitting bench rear seats instead of individual seats, fitting pop-out windows in the back instead of electric ones and numerous other weight-loss programmes.
This adds up to a striking looking car that’s much more efficient than rivals – and we’ve barely mentioned the dent-defying airbumps along the Cactus’s flanks.
The headline feature of the Renault Twingo’s design is the location of its engine. Unlike all its rivals, the Twingo has its three-cylinder engine under the boot floor and connected to the rear wheels. Those of the Ken Block-persuasion hoping to do giant smokey drifts in their local car park, think again, the car’s been set up with safety in mind. What the location of the engine does permit is a relatively large interior with plenty of room for four adults. Equally, the lack of engine in the front means that the front wheels can turn at more extreme angles making the car more manoeuvrable – this could be 2014′s U-turn king.
It’s been teased for a long time but the order books for the new Volvo XC90 have been opened. The large SUV is the first to herald a new range of more stylish Volvos that give a bigger nod to desirability. With this in mind, the exterior has a stylish Scandinavian minimalism to its look, while the interior looks to be simple and elegantly designed.
In addition to the usual extensive range of safety tech, the XC90 will feature Volvo’s T8 twin-engine hybrid powertrain, combining an electric motor with a newly-developed turbocharged four-cylinder enging.