GENEVA -- Designers praised Volkswagen's new Passat, split on Citroen's top-of-the-range C6 and cast doubts on the success of the BLS, the so-called "baby Cadillac."
A large array of important production cars debuted at this year's Geneva auto show. Many manufacturers used design features to set their cars apart from rivals in a very crowded market.
Several car designers shared their views with Automotive News Europe while walking the floor of the Palexpo here.
With the Passat, "Volkswagen has succeeded in distancing itself from its old style," said Johan Tomforde, an independent design consultant, who when working at Mercedes-Benz designed the Smart ForTwo.
The new design "puts the Passat at the same level as the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz C class and the BMW 3 series," Tomforde said.
Ginger Ostle, a director of brand and design strategy consultants Car Men, agreed: "This is the first Passat you could say is sexy."
Designers were less universally enthusiastic about the C6, Citroen's return to the large-car segment. They said the car is reminiscent of the brand's former top sellers, the DS and CX.
"But it does not have the elegance of the original DS, in particular because of the edgy bumpers," Tomforde said.
Akinori Nakanishi, Mitsubishi's chief designer, noted that, contrary to prevailing use of wedge shapes for new cars, Citroen opted for a bow shape with the C6. "The image is in the classic British tradition."
Ostle called the C6 one of the highlights of the Geneva show. "The only disappointment to me was that they didn't cover the rear wheels."
The Toyota Aygo (top), and the Peugeot 107.
Designers were intrigued by the three minicars that Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota are jointly building in Kolin, Czech Republic. But they disagreed over which one of the three is best.
Tomforde noted that the Toyota Aygo looked bigger than it actually is.
"A lovely design and probably the most original of the three," he said.
Mitsubishi's Nakanishi disagreed, saying he liked the Peugeot 107 best. "It has an appropriate cleanness.' It's an expression of Peugeot. The Aygo doesn't look like a Toyota."
Big car, little package
Designers expressed doubts that Cadillac's ambitious European growth plans would be helped by the introduction of a smaller premium car, the BLS.
"My gut feeling is that this design would do better in the US," said Ostle. "I think the Cadillac form language will not appeal to future premium buyers in Europe."
Tomforde said the car emphasizes that "it is difficult to scale down a large-car design to the compact proportions of the BLS."
BMW 3 series
Designers praised the restraint shown in BMW's restyled 7 series upper-premium sedan and the new lower-premium 3 series.
Mitsubishi's Nakanishi said the 3 series has retained classic BMW proportions. But the car's angled surfaces also illustrate that the company continues to push its design forward.
The face-lifted 7 series, which saw a flattening of its controversial trunk lid, was widely hailed as an improvement.
Said Ostle: "It should have come out like this in the first place."
-- Jens Meiners, James B. Treece and Wim Oude Weernink contributed