Design message from Geneva: Bye-bye classic sedan

Automotive News | March 12, 2013 - 12:01 am EST

Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
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The Geneva auto show signaled that the classic four-door, three-box sedan with a true trunk is out of fashion, particularly in Europe. Two examples of this trend come from automakers with long traditions of sedan making: BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The BMW 3-series GT and the Mercedes CLA, both of which debuted in Geneva, still have four doors but their trunks have been morphed into something different.

The 3 GT has a big tailgate while the CLA offers a stub of a trunk. Audi also has ditched the traditional trunk to create the highly successful A5 and A7 sportback models.

These models are neither sedans nor wagons, which is exactly what the automakers wanted to appeal to customers looking to differentiate themselves.

Other examples of this trend include the BMW 5-series GT and Mercedes CLS.

As these new interpretations of the classic sedan move from being one-offs to full-fledged model lines it is easy to see that we are entering the post-sedan era.

Is that a wagon?

Another trend seen in Geneva was the arrival of sleeker looking wagons. Two examples were the Honda Civic and the Toyota Auris wagon variants unveiled in Geneva. After examining both it is clear that a wagon in Europe is no longer going to be seen as a utility vehicle for a plumber. But, are racecar proportions really needed from a vehicle that is supposed to be functional?

I don't think so. These wagon concepts tell me that the motto form follows function is being replaced by the motto form contradicts function.

The BMW 3-series GT has a big tailgate rather than a traditional trunk.


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