The Top 5 Design Details from the 2017 Geneva Motor Show

When the world’s top-billed automotive manufacturers show off their latest and greatest, it becomes clear where things are heading.

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Bryan Campbell

The Geneva Motor Show, more so than any other car show, sees the world’s top-billed automotive manufacturers show off their latest and greatest. It’s the first place where the industry exhibits emerging trends. Granted, not everything catches on, which is regrettable in cases like suicide doors; but it’s probably for the best when it comes to overzealous mood lighting or experimental upholstery. Like them or not, these trends from the show floor are most definitely on the rise.

Forged Carbon Fiber

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Originally co-patented by Lamborghini and Callaway Golf, forged composites seem to be the next step for stronger-than-steel carbon fiber. Whereas traditional carbon fiber is woven in cross-stitched strands and then injected with resin for rigidity, the process behind forged carbon fiber is more akin to an injection molding process — meaning designers can be a lot more creative with the material’s shapes and applications. Its strength is also multi-directional, as opposed to traditional woven carbon fiber, which only has strength on the axis it was designed for. Forged carbon fiber is also marble-like in appearance, which is a breath of fresh air from the ubiquitous black and gray checkers.

Clamshell Hood Shut Lines

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The most famous modern application of a clamshell-style hood is the Audi TT. Blending the hood shut lines with the character lines of a car, or drawing them down along the side of the fenders, is a great way to keep the front end of a car looking seamless and elegant. It seems like a simple change to make in the initial design of a vehicle, but a lot of engineering goes into properly lining up shut lines and body lines. The hidden hood shut lines definitely worked in the Mercedes-AMG GT concept’s favor, but Volkswagen giving the new Arteon a clamshell hood is a good sign that more and more accessible cars will appear with the better-looking trait.

Hidden Aerodynamics

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Flourishes like big wings and aerodynamic vanes sprouting up from body panels can often wreck an otherwise simple, flowing car design. But as performance cars get faster and more powerful, they need the downforce those flourishes provide in order to remain planted on the road. Thankfully, engineers finally have more of a grip on how to create downforce from the underside of the car with hidden aerodynamics. Just look at the new Lamborghini Huracán Performante or the Ferrari 812 Superfast. By hiding the aerodynamic tricks, designers free themselves up to create cleaner, more beautiful designs.

Semi-Matte Paint

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Daimler AG


Full matte paint jobs almost became a mainstream trend — until everyone found out how incredibly difficult it is to clean matte paint without completely ruining it. Semi-matte paint, on the other hand, gives a similar visual effect but has the benefit of protection from a topcoat. The standard gloss paint job is still the go-to because it’s affordable, but it’s become old fashioned, and in most light, it gives off an extremely harsh glare. Most manufacturers are offering a semi-matte finish more often, and it looks better no matter the light.

Exposed Wood Grain Trim

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Daimler AG


Exposed or unfinished wood trim is riding the wave of society’s recent infatuation with hand-made products. Which is by no means a bad thing. The tactile, soft and warm feel of real wood grain lends a handmade, organic look to an otherwise visibly machined and mass-produced item.

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