Bangle Bringing New Designs to the Surface
Automakers aren’t the only ones competing for attention. Auto shows also vie to stand out, and in Los Angeles, organizers have been putting the emphasis on design, with an assortment of styling awards and speakers. There’s little question that BMW design director Chris Bangle attracts attention. The German automaker’s striking, if controversial 7-Series set automotive design off on a new track, and despite skeptics, has helped propel BMW to global luxury sales leadership. During a presentation at the L.A.show, Bangle gave some insight into not only his thinking, but some of the underlying factors driving automotive design. Traditionally, he noted, car stylists are strongly influenced by architectural trends, he noted, such as Art Deco and Bauhaus. Another driving factor is machine technology, which gives auto designers more freedom to create dramatic shapes. Bangle pointed to the multi-faceted Z4 roadster, which features surfaces that could only be developed using today’s computer-aided design technology. Yet the look also follows the lead of cutting-edge architects, such as Frank Gehry, the pen behind the outrageous Guggenheim Museum, in Bilbao, Spain, as well as Los Angeles’ own Disney concert hall. But “what does it mean when we close in on those leading us?” Bangle asked. He concluded his talk by suggesting that automotive design is now moving so fast, it may influence architectural trends of the future.
More Power for Porsche Cayenne
Porsche has given its Cayenne Turbo even more power. The Cayenne Turbo S, which made its debut today, gets 71 extra horsepower thanks to extensive upgrades, including a larger intercooler and three psi higher turbo pressure. Besides its 520 hp, the Turbo S also has more torque — 532 lb-ft between 2750 and 3750 rpm. Acceleration to 60 mph should take 4.8 seconds, and the Cayenne’s new top speed will be 167 mph, making the Cayenne Turbo S the second-fastest Porsche after the Carrera GT.
After the presentation we spoke with Wolfgang Dürheimer, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, to see if this is the power limit for the Cayenne . Dürheimer realizes there are tuners who could go further, but Porsche has developed the Cayenne with a margin, and the Turbo S is on the edge of the possibilities and capabilities of its underpinnings. Mr. Dürheimer further confirmed that buyers can expect a hybrid version of the Cayenne at the earliest by the end of 2008 as a 2009 model. —Henny Hemmes