What's Hot ! What's Not !

In the second of our regular looks at carmakers pushing green car design and those who need to work harder we discover unexpected joy in the boot of the new Lexus CT200h hybrid and the devil-in-the detail that makes the third-generation Ford Focus so much more aerodynamic. We also wonder why the same Lexus had to look so dull (and drive so poorly) and generally bemoan the design changes that turned the fantastically formed original Mitsubishi iMiEV into the clumsily stretched version poor US customers will have to put up with. 

Hot !


There’s a hidden secret in the boot of the Lexus CT200h, the world’s first premium compact hybrid: according to parent company Toyota the unprepossessing dark load space liner features the world’s first use of bio-PET, incorporating bio material derived from sugar cane. Why should we care? Because using such plant material in the manufacturing process reduces the amount of petroleum-based products and cuts whole-life emissions while being tougher and more shrink-resistant than previous bio plastics. Better still and more significantly, it prefaces Toyota introducing the material to cover 80% of the interior of a new model due late 2011.  

Meanwhile at Ford, the Blue Oval brand has revealed that the forthcoming third-generation global version of its massive-selling new Focus is way more aerodynamic than the last one – 0.295 vs. 0.318 Cd for the hatchback and an even better 0.274 vs. 0.304 Cd for the sedan – which will surely lead to better (than the already good) economy and emissions figures. Thank front grille shutters that automatically close when the engine is cool enough, underbody covers, more rounded A-pillars and a barely visible flat side section to each otherwise curvy rear light cluster that all collectively help airflow.

Not !

Less delightful is the US-spec Mitsubishi iMiEV unveiling at the LA show this week (November 17). The beautiful simplicity of the angled-egg-on-wheels profile of the original (that was already tall and genuinely spacious enough to fit for four 6ft adults) has been crucified to meet the perceived need for more interior space and extra US exterior safety requirements. The resulting stretched i-MiEV with aftermarket-style protruding bumpers looks so bad surely only a partially sighted hemp-wearing eco die-hard would even entertain such a purchase. Talking of eco design flair – why did the aforementioned Lexus CT200h have to look so dull? The muscular and sporty hot hatch styling of its LF-Ch concept forebear was so much better.