From a modern classic to an icon’s final tribute: Why these rides are chic designs

With a trained eye for aesthetics, Mr Tan Szue Hann from the Singapore Institute of Architects shares his impression of these sleek and stylish cars

Whether it is a commanding presence or a timeless silhouette, these cars are beauties in their own right. PHOTOS: CYCLE & CARRIAGE, WEARNES AND INCHCAPE

When it comes to cars, it is really a case of different strokes for different folks.

Whether it’s about aesthetics or performance, everyone has their own perspectives.

But there are some models that have earned the respect and adulation of most – car enthusiasts or otherwise. Famous examples include the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and the Land Rover Defender (a new model is featured in this story).

When it comes to the aesthetics of a car, Mr Tan Szue Hann, the honorary secretary of the Singapore Institute of Architects, says: “The first thing I look for, as a consumer, is
its ‘face’ – the front of the car. Much like a person, it needs to have an identifiable personality, and that personality needs to be consistent with the rest of the car, including its kit, interiors and performance.”

Cars@Expo 2022 is held on Aug 13 and 14 at the Singapore Expo Halls 3B and 4. To find your way around, tap on "Hall 3B" or "Hall 4" to zoom into the enlarged version of the floor plan of the respective halls. 

But as someone with a trained eye, Mr Tan, who currently works in the sustainability sector, finds the overall form of the car, “especially its silhouette”, important.

“That tells me a lot about the car – how many people it can accommodate, what purpose it serves, as well as the thinking behind the aerodynamics of the car. I would then imagine how
it performs on the road,” he says. “The rear, of course, is important too as that’s what most drivers would be looking at in traffic!”

The following creations, which will be showcased at Cars@Expo 2022, are good-lookers in their own right.

But do they earn the nod of approval from a trained architect? Mr Tan shares his impressions of them.

Lotus Elise Sport 240

This Elise variant marks the 25th and final year of production, making it a fitting tribute. The roadster retains all the aesthetic elements of the Elise and is powered by a supercharged and chargecooled 1.8-litre, four-cylinder mid-mounted engine.

Evolution, not revolution

“The new Lotus Elise is a sinewy, sinuous evolution of its previous editions, rather than a revolution – and perhaps that is what makes it instantly recognisable.”

Inside the cockpit

“Its velvety interiors and touchpoints, especially the steering wheel, lends it a certain luxurious touch despite its fairly utilitarian sports-car interior. And  it doesn’t even bother with a central display screen, much less a touchscreen for controls!”

All about form

“The form of the car is taut and its contours are well-thought-out. In fact, the car looks like an animal – albeit a rather small one – waiting to pounce and ever ready to move, even while it’s stationary.”

Mercedes-Benz C180 Avantgarde

With the Avantgarde package that covers both the exterior and interior, the Mercedes C-Class saloon becomes sportier and more dynamic. The lowered suspension, extended wheelbase and latest-generation petrol engine make the drive such an agile and enjoyable one.

The signature look

“While styling elements have evolved, the side profile of the car is unmistakably that of a Mercedes saloon, with the new body kit augmenting the effect of a lower, sportier stance.”

Ready for take-off

“The interiors continue Mercedes’ penchant for aviation-themed air-conditioning nozzles and spacecraft-worthy dashboard, now with a huge screen to further rid itself of fussy switches and knobs. Aesthetically, it works - as long as one keeps an eye on the road while adjusting the controls!”

Peugeot 3008

Boasting a new design language that includes a frameless grille as well as LED head- and taillights, the Peugeot 3008 SUV is a clear indication of the direction the marque sets for the future.

All about the facade

“The ‘dissolving’ grille makes for an interesting expression, and the less pronounced kink in the headlights compared to the previous generation is most welcome.”

An interesting touch

“The vertical LED indicators running down the side of the headlights break the general horizontal flow of the grille leading up to the side chassis, but add to the quirkiness and idiosyncrasies of the car’s design!”

Lexus ES 300h

Thanks to its exterior design that takes aerodynamics into consideration, the Lexus ES 300h boasts better fuel efficiency. Coupled with the combination of a petrol engine and a self-charging hybrid system, the drive is powerful and exhilarating.

A look inside

“It’s nice to see the plush interiors not dominated by gigantic screens with no tactile controls. But at the same time, the console styling has remained consistent through the past few iterations of the ES series.”

Athletic with a presence

“The overall look of the car is aggressive, sporty and bold. Yet, the ES 300h still looks stately like its siblings before.”

Cupra Formentor

Formerly a model under parent company Seat, Cupra was inaugurated in 2018 as a standalone car brand that pushes limits and comes with racing heritage. The Formentor is its take on the SUV but one with sleek, sculptural lines.

What if

“The overall stance of the car is aggressive, with well-sculpted curves. But it would be nice to see the body line that starts from the base of the A-pillar (the structural upright that partially frames the windshield) continue all the way to the rear, rather than dissolving into the rear door and re-emerging – but perhaps this could be influenced by the aerodynamic performance of the car?”

A big thumbs up

“Its interior is neat and seems to be stoic and functional, likely a legacy of its Seat origins. With its large wheels and athletic-looking sports rims, it is a handsome SUV.”

Land Rover Defender 90

This two-door version of the iconic Land Rover follows hot on the heels of its ultra-successful sibling, the Defender 110. While it’s designed for off-road driving, the Defender 90 can sit six people, making it an ideal family car.

Success formula

“The distinctive silhouette and styling elements work well for both the Defender 90 and the Defender 110 (four-door version), both of which are handsome cars.”

Pure classic

“The Land Rover Defender retains its classic boxy form that makes it instantly recognisable as a Defender – even if it has more contemporary styling cues than previous generations.”

Alpine 110S

Not a car designed for the faint-hearted, the Alpine 110S is edgy and elegant – in equal parts. Its silhouette is inspired by the iconic Berlinette circa 1960s, and its racing pedigree is matched by the powerful 224kW engine.

Throwback to the past

“Its design is more than just a passing resemblance to the 1961 Alpine A110 – it is a modern homage to that car, and I like it.”

Of pedigree

“Its interiors are what you would expect of a high-performance roadster – the bucket seats scream sports car, and modern-day luxuries like a gigantic screen make way for useful ‘no-look’ dials and switches for on-the-move adjustments!”

All for real

“With bucket seats and a low-slung profile, the Alpine A110s is the quintessential sports coupe.”

Cars@Expo 2022 is held from Aug 13 to 14 at Singapore Expo Halls 3B and 4 from 10am to 8pm. Click here to read more about the latest cars and special deals at the show. 

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