The VW Cabrio is back and better than ever

Recently Volkswagen has redesigned the New Beetle, a car that was massively perceived as “girly”. The redesign has pushed it in a more “manly” and sporting direction with a wider looking stance and sharper lines. Volkswagen have now redirected their attention to another inherently feminine family member…the Cabrio.

It has been at least a decade since the world has seen a new Cabrio from the VW family. Well, it’s back and better than ever. The Cabrio has always been just a Golf with the roof replaced by folding fabric. Set for an official launch at this year’s Geneva Motor show VW has done one better and used the GTI as the platform.

Using all the racy and sporty GTI design cues, the new Cabrio GTI is furthest thing from a cutesy convertible. Deep front air dams and side sill extensions give the car a wide affirmative stance. And if any one has any doubts when you rocket by, the bespoke rear diffuser is flanked by two chrome tailpipes.

The rocket under the hood is the same 2.0 liter turbo charged 4 cylinder engine as in the hatch back combined with an ol’ fashioned 6 speed manual or the optional 6 speed dual-clutch DSG. As with all soft tops extra weight is added to better the torsion rigidity and as a result the 0-60 does suffer a bit, up to 7.3 seconds from 6.9. The Cabrio’s off the line speed is still nothing to shy away from with a max torque achieved at a close to an idling 1,700 rpm. All that low end torque mated with an electronic differential still gives you a great driving experience but now with the joys of open air driving. 

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Interview with Matt Humphries : Morgan Motor Company chief designer

Sense of humor. Something you don’t associate with a car company that’s existed since around 1900. Mercedes, Ford, etc. are all corporate companies with no funny bone.

Morgan Motor Company has been around since 1910 and they pride themselves on just that, their sense of humor. It’s clear after talking to Matt Humphries, the chief designer and relatively new face at the company, that jokes are still to be had.

Before Matt graduated from Coventry University in 2005 he started at the boutique car company on student placement. As part of his placement he had to present a design idea to the owner. The student project would later make it to production with Matt in charge.

“There was no official design department when I showed up.” Matt explained. Before he was employed the engineers and workshop teams just tried ideas out and saw what worked. Matt and his team of 3 stylists that are employed now try “to make the wooden frame a feature of the cars interior” Matt claims.

Using an ash wooden frame might seem idiotic to base a modern days car frame off of but not entirely. Matt defends “Compare wood to modern materials such as carbon fiber or aluminum. They’re all lightweight, strong and flexible.” He continues “now think of all the items in your house and think of which are wood…there is a reason we have been using it for centuries”. Sensibility and sense of humor can go hand in hand. “ Think of the wooden frame as a coat hanger for the aluminum chassis”.

Old-fashioned construction and 1920s styling are major parts in the character of Morgan. This is why it’s one of the few companies that can get away with bringing back the 3-wheeler. Essentially a tub with a Harley-Davidson engine in front flanked by 2 wheels and a third belt driven wheel in the back. With a design inspired by a B-52 bomber and a separate younger generation excited about it the 3-wheeler is the epitome of Morgan.

Three new models are in the pipeline at Morgan. All planned with wooden chassis. But as far as the styling they are extremely forward thinking. “As long as you have some of the Morgan elements you don’t need them all for it to be a Morgan.” Humphries explained. The designs more or less capture elements of the past with out being completely old fashioned. Matt uses the term “Story telling through design”.

A twenty-something as the chief designer at a car company from the early 20th century… a perfect fit at this plucky British Motor Company.

Ferrari Tailor-Made

  Automotive companies, in the past few decades, have adopted special branches to their companies. For the most part these special sectors of the company specialize in performance upgrades; Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT), Chrysler LLC’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT), BMW’s M division and Mercedes’ AMG division.

Earlier in 2011 McLaren Automotive started up McLaren Special Operations. Which deals solely with visual upgrades. Let’s face it the MP-4 12c doesn’t really need performance upgrades.

So it’s no surprise that long time rival company Ferrari has recently started up Ferrari Tailor-Made. FTM is Ferrari’s customizing service for clients who want to go the extra mile to make their baby unique.

Tailored to suite individuals’ tastes by the Ferrari styling center, clients can follow the car through every step of production. Each client also gets his or her own personal design advisor.

When talking personal tastes of Ferrari owners the spectrum can range from classy and subtle to a flamboyant eye sore. Which is why Ferrari has covered all the bases. Three categories of styling exist: Scuderia, Classica and Inedita.

Scuderia reflects the sporting heritage of Ferrari. With options such as carbon fiber, Alcantara and kevlar trims along side satin and matte finishes one can easily land at either end of the spectrum. Get it right you can have a subtle track weapon that makes you look like a driving legend.

Classica allows the client to put a vintage twist on a new model. Kashmir roof lining, a teak-trimmed trunk and interior inserts that match the exterior can easily make a classic looking GT.

Inedita is described as “experimental” and “innovative”. This is where the flamboyant eye sore options come into play. If a client wants his pale blue Ferrari convertible to have matching blue rims, sure. If said client then wants matching blue leather seats with denim trim alternating through out the cabin, no problem. But if blue denim isn’t your style ferrari have other suite fabrics at you disposal.

The idea behind this program is to create a more bespoke Ferrari for every customer. Every car is different. From the cool racer to the hip-hop mogul, Ferrari has options for you.