I definitely think that, hands down, the coolest booth at the show this year was for Scion. They also happened to have the only snottiest booth representative:
RW: Do you have any literature or anything about the IQ?
Snotty Booth Rep: Well, no, but you can find info on the website, scion.com.
RW: Oh, that's cool. Is there something here with the web address on it? ~looks~
SBR: It's scion.com, you can't remember scion.com???
No, snotrag. With six trade shows in two months and 5000 things to remember from each of them, I need something to remind me of web addresses. Kindly lose the attitude.
Nonetheless, the music was as hot as the vehicles and nice and loud and fun. Their website is really well designed--rolling over buttons sounds like parts of a techno song. And their catalogue is really cool, too; all the custom accessories are stickers that you can pick and choose and stick onto a centerfold spread of the different cockpits.
So here's the new IQ:
The video of the unveiling is pretty funny in a tragically-hip sort of way, but they're really stressing customization, and I'm totally on board with this. I think they have succeeded in making a cost-effective, fuel-efficient minicar compatible with Urban Cool. Now I have no idea if this is taking off with the gangstas, because I don't really travel in those circles (I'm very, very white), but I would not be all that surprised if their marketing worked and all the more impressively in the current bigger-is-better climate of Navigators, Escalades, and Hummers. The lines of the IQ are also far more imposing and aggressive than the cutesy-poo little Smart--and one has to wonder if the similarity of the name isn't completely intentional.
Scion's Hako Coupe Concept is equally awesome:
Even in the concept, you can see how it already looks like somebody took a 2012 Saab into a Compton chopshop and told them to give it some rabid muscle. The interior is also sick:
Even the ceiling has great style, the moonroof is cut into strips:
Drawing further attention to customization at the show was this incredible rebuild, the Ruthless Cartel XD by Drag Cartel:
This thing is freaking pimped out. And I've offended even myself by using a term like "pimped" on this blog, but there really is no better way to describe it. Just look at the interior:
Yeah...wow. These subwoofers could probably shatter your neighbors' windows:
If that weren't enough, it has six...SIX amps--in the most gorgeous tiered stack in case you didn't immediately notice how many of them there are:
Of course, I'd despise this sound system if it belonged to my neighbor but absolutely love it if I were the one driving and choosing the music. I'd also get a huge kick out of driving around playing, like, Kraftwerk at deafening decibels instead of hip-hop. The irony would be delicious. For Scion's presentation, especially considering that they had such great music playing fairly loudly, they definitely should have arranged it with the owner of the XD to use the sound system in his/her car for the whole booth (I'm 99.99% certain the owner is a guy and probably 5'2" with a debilitating Napoleon complex, but--you know--political correctness and all). It would've made this monster all the more impressive.
What's more, I don't know how many mainstream industrial designers really watch what goes on in the world of customized cars, but there is no question in my mind that car design could as much trickle up from the streets as it does trickle down from deep inside the insular bellies of the big manufacturers.
©2009, Ryan Witte