Trends: Splitting the Surface

For years, automotive brands have sought to reduce the number of body cut lines and the sizes of panel gaps, in order to demonstrate better-perceived quality across their production designs. But now we’re seeing the reverse of this trend – with the splitting up of a car’s surfaces in a much more graphical way, highlighting shut-lines for design purposes.

There are subtle twists on this trend – from slim chrome highlights, to gaping air gaps – but it seems that the trend for sheer, flush surfacing and tight panel gaps is increasingly the domain of the Volkswagen group, as other brands shy away from simple solutions in favor of much more adventurous splitting-the-surface.

Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is regarded as the car that started this trend. The previous generation featured a chrome highlight running under the hood shut-line between lamp and DLO. The second-generation car continues the effect, with the chrome strip now seamlessly blended into the lamp graphic.

Toyota Aygo (2014)

Toyota Aygo

The Aygo clearly differentiates itself from its Peugeot and Citroen twins via its bold ‘X’-shaped DRG. But the upper branches of the ‘X’ extend back graphically through the lamps and up to the A-pillar, creating a distinct ‘split’ between fender and hood in the process. Read our review here.

Peugeot Exalt concept (2014)

Peugeot Exalt concept

To accentuate the length of the Exalt’s hood, Peugeot used a novel device that appears to ‘widen’ the shut line between hood and fender before drawing the eye down into the front lamp graphic. Nice touch.

BMW i8 (2014)

BMW i8

Perhaps the most extreme example of this trend comes from BMW i – and the rear aspect of the i8 in particular. Here, the upper and lower surfaces are physically split away, accentuated by a contrast black graphic running inside the ‘gap’ between the two.

This article first appeared on Car Design Research and was republished with permission


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