Jean-Rene Talopp is the founder of the Strate College, a design school from which a dozen auto stylists graduate each year.
Talopp is the founder of the Strate College, a design school in the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux, from which a dozen auto stylists graduate each year. To him, those four cars embody strength and power without aggressiveness.
Unlike some design experts, Talopp does not rail against the difficulties imposed upon designers such as common platforms and pending pedestrian safety regulations.
"Constraints," he says, "breed creativity."
Talopp toured the show floor with Automotive News Europe and shared his views on some key production models.
Mercedes A class
"Its design emits Mercedes quality. In retrospect, the first A class was a rough draft and this one is the finished version. They managed to rid the rear of its utilitarian look. The car sits nicely. It will be a tough act to follow for Mercedes' competitors."
"To that car, Renault brought the fun and jolly side it gave the Twingo 12 years ago. It's a sweet, smiling car."
Mercedes CLS coupe and Nissan Murano
"Unlike the SLR McLaren, the CLS is not a macho, mean-looking kind of car. There's a growing realization that aggressiveness is not what society wants.
"Besides, anybody can design an aggressive-looking car, that's the easy option. Softer lines also can be seen on Nissan's Murano SUV. Other SUVs often seem to compete in nastiness."
Citroen C4 and Opel Astra GTC
"Citroen is back on track as a maker of innovative, good-looking, sleek cars. Citroen cars again will be instantly recognizable, particularly with the brand's logo now embedded in the grille. As for Opel's new Astra GTC, it is very coherent, has a lot of character. It is the first time in many years that an Opel car pulls it off, along with the Tigra."