Many successful cars are sold around the world because of their looks. But people often fail to reason out why a particular car looks good. It is the designer who should get into the minds of people and find out what looks good and what does not. Of all the factors which influence the final look of the car, its proportions is the most important one.
The following are some of the factors that greatly influence the proportions.
Tyre size: The size of tyres greatly decides on the proportions. Tyres are like the legs of an animal. Powerful and fast animals tend to have longer and muscular legs, compared to their body size. Likewise the size of the tyre ( both diameter and the width) decides the character of the car. In fact the proportions of the car can be defined relative to the tyre size.
Engine and transmission placement: Of the various possible placement of Engine and transmission, the most common are the Front Engine (transverse) Front wheel drive and Front engine (Longitudinal) rear wheel drive. There are advantages and dis-advantages of both. There are many difference in proportions between front and rear wheel drive cars. One among them is the placement of front wheel. The engine in a front wheel car is usually in the front of the front wheel center, which pushes the placement of the front wheel just in front of the door opening. On a rear wheel drive car the front wheel can be placed as far ahead as possible.Battery powered vehicles have different packaging requirement viz a viz motor and battery placement. In future
Number of occupants and ergonomics: The usual seating configuration is Coupe ( two seater and sometimes four seater with very minimal rear seat), four seater ( two in front, two in the rear), five seater ( two in front and three in the rear), seven (three rows as in a MPV/SUV, eight and multiple seats ( like in limousine). The seating configuration and the character of the vehicle decides the way in which the persons are seated in a car. For example for a sports car the person has to fit in a very low height vehicle and in an MPV the person almost sits upright.
Cultural and demographic context: People of different regions have differing concept of beauty and proportion because of their cultural heritage. Maybe this is due to the fact that anthropomorphic ratios are different in different parts of the world. Architecture, religion, familiarity and other cultural factors also influences the proportion.
Super cars:Super cars are built as a statement of the company which builds them. They are limited in numbers and exclusive in design. Because of the glamor associated with such cars, the shape and its proportions becomes the aspirational point of other mass manufacturers to follow. For eg. Normal cars with roof line similar to that in a coupe tend to look more sportier, although the designers will have to go through extra effort to package four or five people inside.
Safety and legal points: Many of the safety features have become legally binding features for the designers to follow. For e.g. Pedestrian safety rules dictate some of the front shapes.
Design trends: There are some design trends which dictates what “futuristic” means. The designers tend to be influenced by these factors which creating cars, especially when they are trying to create a car which will take at-least three years to come to market. The area of day light opening (DLO) or the glass area is continually getting reduced. Although there are some exceptions, this trend is continuing. Some of the new cars have ridiculously small DLO, it feels claustrophobic and extremely difficult to reverse without electronic aid such as proximity sensors and reversing cameras. But still the trend is overpowering.
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