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That old adage, "Same sausage, different length'" comes to mind here. The one thing that Chris Bangle always derided appears exactly to have happened with this latest F10 5 Series. Seeing the car next to the bigger 7 Series it's easier to appreciate the differences: there's a more coupe-like greenhouse; the bone line at the shoulder terminates above the front wheelarch; the headlamps turn down at the ends, not up as on the 7. There are some appealing surfaces up close too: the hood has an unusual recessed center section, narrowing in on the BMW emblem, which now sits on the bumper molding, closer to the grille than the 7 Series, while the vertical grille vanes have a new change of section cutting back towards the top edge. Inside, the center console is inclined seven degrees towards driver and the clumsy ‘Bactrian camel with two humps' IP of the old E60 has now gone - replaced with a far cleaner treatment to the upper surface. The notably slim IP impression is created via a combination of a high center tunnel, a sharply inclined underscuttle and a broad décor band that runs across the car. We noted the subtle changes of section within this décor band, part of the more fluid form language that's a hallmark of recent BMW interiors. The switchgear is clearly arranged too, helped by the use of ‘Black Panel' technology as on the new 5GT. Other new features include Night Vision, Parking Assistant, Auto Start-Stop and an 8-speed auto transmission, no less. In all, it's bit of a repeat of the E39 5 Series: there's not a line wrong here, it's all perfectly harmonious, just a bit underwhelming. More specifically, the car doesn't have as much presence as expected, and it's nothing like as charismatic as the previous E60. Familiarity on the roads will doubtless make the F10 differences easier to spot given time, but it's a shame the 3, 5 and 7 Series are once again so similar.
All three Torinese design houses are showing concepts at Geneva this year, a big difference to last year's situation. Pininfarina's offering is the Duettottanta: a name that evokes the legendary 105-series Duetto, but also the years of activity at Pininfarina, which launches the celebrations for its 80th anniversary with this concept car.
The sixth member of the third generation Renault Megane family - the Coupe Cabriolet - was unveiled at Geneva 2010 and completes the range.
Turin-based IDEA Institute presented its Sofia showcar at the Geneva show, showcasing a new design direction for a hybrid-powered four-seat sedan.
It surprised many to see this concept on the Seat stand. A white exterior model only, it was missed by many designers at the show - its limelight stolen by the VW stand next door and Audi's A1.
Proclaimed as the first-ever application of the ‘Nagare Flow' design language in a Mazda production car, we unfortunately expect the new Mazda5 to be the final one too, now that former design chief Laurens van den Acker has departed to Renault.
Mitsubishi joins the compact crossover party currently dominated by the Nissan Qashqai in late June 2010 with its ASX model, in a move that will lessen the brand's traditional reliance on large 4x4s and pickup trucks and their associated weaker economy and emissions.
Not many people visiting the Geneva show, car designers included, will likely pay much attention to the Dacia Duster debuting there this week.
Both the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg made their public debuts at Geneva, the two vehicles once again part of joint cooperation between what are now one and the same company.
Proton and Giugiaro jointly revealed the concept version for a new city car that will become the Malaysian national car-maker's first hybrid model at the Geneva motor show this week.