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September 2, 2014

Land Rover Discovery Sport revealed—claimed to be most versatile, capable premium compact SUV

Jack Yan/23.22

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Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit has released the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the successor to the Freelander.
   Land Rover has abandoned the Freelander name, which mainly had support from the UK market, but was less known elsewhere. By using the Discovery name, the new model can trade off the larger, more established SUV’s goodwill in more international markets.
   The compact SUV sector continues to be strong, especially in markets such as China, which has seen many launches over recent years.
   The Discovery Sport is the company’s most versatile entry in the compact sector, rivalling the Audi Q5—yet is shorter than that model while managing to have three rows of seats as standard (in the UK).
   BMW’s X3 and Volvo’s XC60 will also be in the Discovery Sport’s crosshairs.
   The styling combines elements of the existing Freelander’s design language with its clamshell bonnet—which can trace its origins to the Range Rover—and the thick C-pillar, but expressed in sleeker terms. Land Rover’s exterior design challenge was to give the Discovery Sport its sporting appearance—putting the S into SUV—while maximizing interior space.
   Land Rover says it has tried hard to ensure that the Discovery Sport is comfortable for urban use, while maintaining the sort of off-road abilities people have come to expect from its brand. It claims that the vehicle is more suited off-road than its immediate rivals in the compact premium SUV sector, aided by improvements in its Terrain Response software. The Discovery Sport has approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31 and 21 degrees respectively, says the company, and can wade to 600 mm.
   Revised multi-link suspension at the rear has allowed greater space, while making the third row a reality.
   The bodyshell uses steel and aluminium, the latter to reduce weight.
   The interior features high-quality materials, an eight-inch touch-screen system, four 12 V power points, and the option of six USB charging ports for all three rows.
   The launch engine is Land Rover’s 2·2-litre turbodiesel with stop–start, developing 190 PS, with both nine-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions. A two-wheel-drive turbodiesel with carbon dioxide emissions of a targeted 119 g/km will be released in 2015.
   The digital reveal of the Sport was at Spaceport America, alongside a Galactic Discovery competition, which will see four winners head to space with Virgin Galactic.—Jack Yan, Publisher










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August 26, 2014

Volvo releases details of second-generation XC90

Jack Yan/15.03

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Volvo has released official information on the second-generation XC90, replacing the original SUV that first caught the public’s attention in 2002.
   The new XC90 is aimed at a more affluent audience while preserving traditional Volvo values, as the Swedish brand aims to increase its international sales as a prestige marque, especially in China.
   The XC90 is the first car from the Swedish brand, now a subsidiary of China’s Geely, developed after its sale by the Ford Motor Company.
   The engine line-up features D4 and D5 diesels, producing 190 and 225 PS respectively, and T5 and T6 petrol units, developing 225 and 320 PS. A Twin Engine T8 is the flagship of the range, with 400 PS and a hybrid driveline (petrol engine driving the front wheels, an electric motor driving the rear), in line with Volvo’s loftier ambitions for its big SUV, while showing its social commitment. Volvo says a three-cylinder unit is in the XC90’s future.
   Size has increased, too: length is up to 4,950 mm (compared with 4,807 mm), with a wheelbase up from 2,857 mm to 2,984 mm, ensuring the new car is more commodious. Width is 2,008 mm, an increase from the current model’s 1,936 mm, helping distance it from the mid-sized XC60. Height is now 1,775 mm, the only measure which has decreased from its predecessor, by a mere 9 mm. The tracks are also wider, front and rear, by 3–4 inches.
   Volvo’s new design language, already previewed on the Concept CoupĂ©, Concept XC CoupĂ© and Concept Estate, is a sportier, simpler expression of many of its traditional cues, but shakes off Swedish restraint for a more expressive, aspirational feel. The iron logo has been reinterpreted to appear more solid, with the ribbon at a lower angle. The sides are straighter, with the waistline more parallel with the ground.
   The SUV is on Volvo’s new SPA scalable architecture, which will form the basis of future Volvo models.
   The interior has also been rethought with a new design language, with a large Sensus screen in the middle of the dashboard, divided into GPS at the top, media and phone in the middle, and climate control settings at the bottom. Cloud-based services can also be accessed through the Sensus system, with compatibility with Android and Apple, including Google Maps and Spotify through those OSs. A head-up display is also available. The interior is also more luxurious, with more sumptuous, redesigned seats. Volvo claims the third row of seats provides class-leading room. The Bowers & Wilkins sound system is unique to the XC90, and features an air-vented subwoofer.
   In safety terms, Volvo dĂ©buts two features. The first is automatic braking when turning left (turning right for RHD models) into oncoming vehicles. Secondly, Volvo launches an active safety feature in cases where, should the car begin to depart from the road, it will tighten the front seat belts to hold the passengers in place. Meanwhile, its engineers have developed an energy-absorbing function between the chair and chair frame to dampen the vertical forces, helping to prevent back injuries.
   Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson says, ‘This is one of the most important days in our history. We are launching not only a car, but we are also relaunching our brand. Today begins a new era in our company.’
   The first-generation model continues in China as the XC90 Classic.—Jack Yan, Publisher

















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August 20, 2014

Audi’s new TT is leaner and greener, with whole-life environmental impact reduced

Lucire staff/14.24

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Audi’s third-generation TT, which goes on sale later this year, is greener and lighter than its predecessor, something which Lucire readers will applaud.
   The iconic sports’ car, which came on the scene in 1998 with its Bauhaus, geometric looks, carving its own niche, continues similar themes for 2014, but looks sleeker, with Audi’s hexagonal grille, and wider. However, it is virtually the same length as the outgoing model, while having a 37 mm longer wheelbase.
   The body is stiffer by 25 per cent and the centre of gravity lower by 10 mm, aiding handling. Power is up 14 per cent, while greenhouse gas emissions are down 11 per cent. The monocoque shell is a mixture of steel and aluminium, with the weight dropping by 50 kg compared with the second-generation model which Lucire tested in 2007. The weight, in fact, is only close to that of the original TT, which is no mean feat considering how much more modern cars pack, with the front-wheel-drive 2·0 TFSI model tipping the scales at 1,230 kg. By comparison, a 1998 1·8 front-wheel-drive TT weighed 1,240 kg.
   Audi has also reduced the whole-life impact on the environment, with each car saving 5·5 tonnes of greenhouse gas (not just carbon dioxide, but methane, nitrous oxide and halogenated organic emissions) in its lifetime. The construction sees a saving of 800 kg of greenhouse gas emissions (nine per cent) compared to the earlier model.
   UK deliveries commence in December 2014.


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July 9, 2014

Opel Corsa E breaks cover, as GM releases ofïŹcial details

Lucire staff/7.37

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GM has released details of its fifth-generation Opel Corsa (Vauxhall Corsa Mk IV in the UK), promising that the new model will set benchmarks for its class.
   It will have to: it joins a talented segment with cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Honda Fit, Toyota Vitz and Peugeot 208.
   The Opel Corsa E is virtually identical in length to the outgoing model, with much of the cabin space cleverly used in its 4 m.
   There is a new platform, dubbed Gamma II in GM-speak, with no carryover components from the Corsa D. The new sheetmetal has greater differentiation between three- and five-door models, with styling by Brit Mark Adams. A panoramic roof is optional. Other options include blind spot alert, lane departure warning, and a rear-view camera.
   The new interior has a redesigned instrument panel and dashboard, including Opel’s Intellilink in-car system, already seen on the Adam subcompact, which is on a shorter version of the Corsa E’s platform. Intellilink features a seven-inch colour touch-screen, which can be controlled via apps on the Apple Iphone and Google Android.
   Appealing to the Corsa’s urban drivers, there is a revised speed-sensitive power steering, with less understeer. Ride and handling have also been improved, says Opel.
   Opel has joined the trend toward three-cylinder petrol engines, with a one-litre Ecotec direct-injection turbo as the smallest unit, developing 90 or 115 PS. It is combined with a stop–start system to lower fuel consumption.
   A 1·3 turbodiesel, a 1·2 and 1·4 petrol engine, and a 1·4 turbo are also on offer, mated to new six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.
   The Corsa will not be sold in Australasia or North America, where the Korean-made Chevrolet Aveo (under various names), also on the Gamma II platform, is GM’s entry in the B-segment.



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Filed under: design, living, Lucire, technology
July 3, 2014

Luxury watch brand Christopher Ward develops its own innovative movement

Lucire staff/23.17

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British luxury watch brand Christopher Ward has announced the development of its own watch movement, the Calibre SH21.
   Mike France, one of the co-founders, explains that the brand breaks the rules and ‘to be the masters of our own destiny.
   â€˜Last year, the CEO of a major Swiss luxury watch brand heard rumours about SH21 and his—frankly, affronted—comment was, “What gives you the license to do that?”
   â€˜We give ourselves license to do this. Ten years ago we launched the world’s first pure online business model for luxury watches; a new paradigm in blending supreme quality with unprecedented value that challenged the industry norm. Today, we are advancing to a new level of independence that strengthens the future growth of the business and enables us to develop a family of movements, the first of which is the beautiful C9 Harrison 5 Day Automatic, housing the Calibre SH21, which we also launched today.’
   France expects to see Calibre SH21 being the core of a whole suite of movements.
   The development was spurred by young watchmaker Johannes Jahnke, who examined medical industry tooling and car manufacture, thinking outside the square.
   Jahnke, along with industry veteran Jorg Bader. came with Christopher Ward’s merger with Synergies HorlogĂšres.
   Chris Ward, the co-founder from whom the brand takes its name, calls the development of the new movement ‘probably the most significant watch industry development by a British brand in the past 50 years.’
   The new movement gives Christopher Ward independence from movements supplied by Swiss companies, with Swatch the largest player.

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Filed under: design, fashion, living, London, Lucire, TV
May 29, 2014

A tribute to Massimo Vignelli, a design legend

Jack Yan/10.14

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RIT

Massimo Vignelli, who passed away on May 27, was a hero of mine. When receiving the news shortly before it hit the media in a big way, from our mutual friend Stanley Moss, this title’s travel editor and CEO of the Medinge Group, I posted immediately on Facebook: ‘It is a sad duty to note the passing of Massimo Vignelli, one of my heroes in graphic design. When I was starting out in the business, Massimo was one of the greats: a proponent of modernism and simple, sharp typography. His influence is apparent in a lot of the work done by our brand consultancy and in our magazines, even in my 2013 mayoral campaign graphics. A lot of his work from half a century ago has stood the test of time. There was only one degree of separation between us, and I regret that we never connected during his lifetime. The passing of a legend.’
   This Facebook status only scratches the surface of my admiration for Vignelli. There have been more comprehensive obits already (Fast Company Design rightly called him ‘one of the greatest 20th century designers’), detailing his work notably for the New York subway map, and—curiously to me—glossing over the effect he had on corporate design, especially in the US.
   Vignelli, and his wife Lella, a designer in her own right and a qualified architect, set up the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milano in 1960, which had clients including Pirelli and Olivetti. In 1965, they moved to New York and Vignelli co-founded Unimark International (with Ralph Eckerstrom, James Fogelman, Wally Gutches, Larry Klein, and Bob Noorda), where he was design director. It was the world’s largest design and marketing firm till its closure in 1977.
   The 1960s were a great time for Vignelli and his corporate identities. He worked on American Airlines, Ford, Knoll, and J. C. Penney, and the work was strictly modernist, often employing Helvetica as the typeface family. Vignelli was known to have stuck with six families for most his work—Bodoni was another, a type family based around geometry that, on the surface, tied in to his modernist, logical approach. However, there were underlying reasons, including his belief that Helvetica had an ideal ratio between upper- and lowercase letters, with short ascenders and descenders, lending itself to what he considered classic proportions. The 1989 WTC Our Bodoni, created under Vignelli’s direction by Tom Carnase and commissioned by Bert di Pamphilis, adheres to the same proportions.
   Although my own typeface design background means that I could not adhere to six, there is something to be said for employing a logical approach to design. American corporate design went through a “cleaning up” in the 1960s, with a brighter, bolder sensibility. Detractors might accuse it of being stark, the Helveticization of American design making things too standard. Yet through the 1970s the influence remained, and to my young eyes that decade, this was how professional design should look, contrary to the low-budget work plaguing newspapers and books that I saw as I arrived in the occident.
   When the Vignellis left Unimark to set up Vignelli Associates in 1971 (and later Vignelli Designs in 1978), their stamp remained. The MTA launched Vignelli’s subway map the following year, and like the London Underground map by Harry Beck in 1931, it ignored what was above ground in favour of a logical diagram with the stops. Beck was a technical draftsman and the approach must have found favour with Vignelli, just as it did with those creating maps for the Paris MĂ©tropolitain and the Berlin U-bahn.
   New Yorkers didn’t take to the Vignelli map as well as Londoners and Parisians, and it was replaced in 1979 with one that was more geographically accurate to what was above ground.
   In 1973, Vignelli worked on the identity for Bloomingdale’s, and his work endures: the Big Brown Bag is his work, and it continues to be used by the chain today. Cinzano, Lancia and others continue with Vignelli’s designs.
   Ironically, despite a rejection of fashion in favour of timelessness, some of the work is identified with the 1960s and 1970s, notably thanks to the original cut of Helvetica, which has only recently been revived (a more modern cut is commonplace), and which is slightly less popular today. Others, benefiting from more modern layout programs and photography, look current to 2010s eyes, such as Vignelli Associates’ work for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
   The approach taken by Lucire in its print editions has a sense of modernism that has a direct Vignelli influence, including the use of related typeface families since we went to retail print editions in 2004. Our logotype itself, dating from 1997, has the sort of simplicity that I believe Vignelli would have approved of.
   Vignelli was, fortunately, fĂȘted during his lifetime. He received the Compasso d’Oro from ADI twice (1964 and 1998), the AIGA Gold Medal (1983), the Presidential Design Award (1985), the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Award from the Royal Society of Arts (1996), the National Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper–Hewitt National Museum of Design (2003), among many. He holds honorary doctorates from seven institutions, including the Rochester Institute of Technology (2002). Rochester has a Vignelli Center for Design Studies, whose website adheres to his design principles and where educational programmes espouse his modernist approach. It also houses the Vignellis’ professional archive.
   He is survived by his wife, Lella, who continues to work as CEO of Vignelli Associates and president of Vignelli Designs; their son, Luca, their daughter, Valentina Vignelli Zimmer, and three grandchildren.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 2, 2014

Chanel reopens at la Mistralée in Saint-Tropez for the summer

Lucire staff/11.48

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Chanel has opened its ephemeral boutique in Saint-Tropez at la MistralĂ©e (1, avenue du GĂ©nĂ©ral Leclerc, 83990 Saint-Tropez) for the fifth year, with a colourful dĂ©cor inspired by the December 2013 MĂ©tiers d’Art Paris–Dallas collection.
   On entry, Chanel shows off its prĂȘt-Ă -porter, with the ceiling featuring a millefeuille of translucent paper. Reflecting the Paris–Dallas collection, the rooms are in beige, brown, rose, garnet, sunflower, white and black. Each features a different collection: bags, jewellery, small leather goods, and shoes each occupy one; the watch space features the J12, PremiĂšre, Mademoiselle PrivĂ© and high jewellery items.
   In keeping with Saint-Tropez, La MistralĂ©e has a pool, with chairs and parasols, and gardens. Chanel has placed its beachwear, towels and high summer accessories at the pool house. Skin care, make-up and fragrance will join the rest of the collections at the boutique in coming weeks.
   It will remain open till October 2014.


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April 17, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s CoppĂ©lia expertly executed at every level

Jack Yan/13.46

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Royal New Zealand Ballet


Evan Li/Royal New Zealand Ballet

Top A publicity photograph from the Royal New Zealand Ballet for Coppélia, with Swanhilda, Franz and Coppélia. Above Kohei Iwamato as Franz and Lucy Green as Swanhilda from the premiÚre.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s CoppĂ©lia, which opened in Wellington on Thursday, is a lovingly designed and staged production that will suit family audiences.
   Set in a mountain village in Hungary, the RNZB’s production of CoppĂ©lia retains its well known storyline and period setting, with beautiful sets and costumes. The work of the late, award-winning designer Kristian Fredrikson is particularly poignant in the second act, inside Dr Coppelius’s house, where his seven very distinctive automatons, as well as CoppĂ©lia, rest. Two incomplete mannequins hung from the top. The third act, with the wedding scene, is another testament to Fredrikson’s design ability, evident through the villagers’ and Franz and Swanhilda’s wedding costumes. Jason Morphett’s lighting lifted the story, making it easy to follow—and it was the second act, too, with its moody atmosphere, where his work shone.
   Martin Vedel, ballet master on CoppĂ©lia, stayed true to the core of the story, with classical and folkloric dances playing out the plot. The energetic divertissements in the third act were perfectly performed. Vedel was, according to his notes, aware of the pre-modern, romantic period in which CoppĂ©lia was created, and sought to retain its beauty, but tightened up the storyline and more clearly portrayed Dr Coppelius—performed by Sir Jon Trimmer, who first danced it for the RNZB in 1964—as a social outcast.
   The 21st-century touches are, then, in the theatrics of the performance rather than the look and feel, although the limbless, faceless automaton, beautifully performed by Paul Mathews, could feel at home in science fiction to modern audiences.
   One cannot help but smile at the performances—after all, CoppĂ©lia is a happy, comedic ballet, and we noticed that the children on opening night enjoyed it as much as the adults. Lucy Green and Kohei Iwamoto were the well cast leads tonight, as Swanhilda and Franz respectively, dancing their roles expertly—and deservedly receiving standing ovations from some of the audience. Unsurprisingly, Sir Jon received similar acclaim, and Joseph Skelton as Zoltan, both in his emphatic solo and his dance with Katherine Grange as Ima, brought immediate reactions as well as loud applause at the end.
   Orchestra Wellington faithfully performed the LĂ©o Delibes score.
   After Wellington, CoppĂ©lia tours to to Palmerston North, Invercargill, Dunedin, Napier, Rotorua, Takapuna, and Auckland, with the season ending on May 31 inclusive. Further information on dates and venues, as well as booking, can be found at the RNZB website.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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