Car design : Brits are still leading the way

Keith Adams

Lee Mitchell's Chevrolet Cruze
Ex-Rover Designer Lee Mitchell's Chevrolet Cruze Hatch

For those who made the trek to the Paris Motor Show, there were plenty of rewards. Obviously, there were some notable UK designs, spearheaded by the Jaguar C-X75 Concept and Range Rover Evoque but, delve a little deeper, and British Designers have their fingerprints over rather a lot of cars.

Take, for example, Lee Mitchell, the ex-Longbridge Designer who brought us some exciting MG sports car concepts as well as the Rover 75 facelift and replacement designs – all looked amazing and all showed a thorough understanding of what made an MG, an MG; and what made a Rover, a Rover.

And you can see that in his latest design for GM – the Chevrolet Cruze Hatch. It’s good to see what an ex-Rover designer is up to these days – and that they’re turning out great looking cars. It debuted in Paris – and went down very well indeed. Lee is clearly proud of his design, and he thinks it looks good – ‘I think it would make a great Rover, what do you think, huh?’

Personally speaking, looking at the profile shot above, my answer is yes! What do you think?

SEAT iBe concept car
SEAT IBE Concept Car - you will recognise the Designer's name

Another recent example of Brit-led design hails from Spain – the lovely looking SEAT IBE Concept car. It’s an electric car that manages to look as sexy as it is green. The styling’s tight, taut and angular – very much a significant move away from SEAT’s recent Walter de’ Silva-influenced offerings.

I like it a lot and, although you’ve probably not heard of its Designer, you’ll know the name. Chris Axe, son of Roy, is responsible for this handsome car – clearly demonstrating that an eye for neat design is in the genes. Chris has not only inherited his father’s talent but has brought some of his own flair to the table as well.

I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more from Chris Axe and Lee Mitchell in the future…

Keith Adams


  1. The Cruze was one of the cars that impressed last weekend in Paris – far more than the pisspoor Astra on the adjacent Opel stand! One thing – will the opulent fabric trimmed parcel shelf make it to production? The hatch was, alas, locked but the unlocked saloon was of equal quality to poor old Saab.

  2. It’s not a bad looking car and, if you stuck a Blue Oval badge on it or a couple of silver Chevrons on its rump, most would none the wiser.

    I listened to a radio programme today talking about the British being world leaders in sport technology e.g. bicycles, skeleton bobsleighs etc. The programme also mentioned that around about 80% of all F1 designers are Brits too.

    We need to translate these skills into manufacturing again – not mass market products, labour costs are to high, but into more specialised high end products such as, for example, ‘Green Energy’ projects such as wave machines etc.

    The car above is just a micro image of what a Brit is capable of so why not use that skill to the benefit of this nation.

  3. It’s not bad looking at all in a 2010’s hatchback kind of way – it’s certainly more taught than the luke-warm baked-spud styling of the Astra – it even has some hints of the Alfa Guilietta about it, along with the BMW 1-series (especially the shut-lines to the rear doors)……would it have made a good MG-Rover – I think so – although I’m not sure where a car with such styling themes would fit with the rest of the range – it’s not British enough for my liking……..

  4. You mean poor quality (BTW, I am an ex-SAAB owner – you’ll notice the use of ‘EX‘ in that statement……Quentin Wilson was wrong!) 😀

  5. Neither would I in the past…. but having seen/sat in this, and having a friend with a Captiva I’m a turning!

  6. Ok then – I bow to your direct experience, and will take a look at one when they come to Blighty (if they come to Blighty of course)…….would make an interesting Astra/Focus/Golf/Yawn competitor if it does come here, and I’ll bet it’s priced to undercut all of ’em! 😀

  7. A3 = never!!! A bit like the Exeo looks like an A4. Just another way to extend the life of an old Golf – this probably be the next Leon…….

  8. I dont mind the look of the Chevy Cruze Hatch or the Seat IBE, but do not see the Chevy as being in the style of a possible Rover.  Having said that, I do like the few Chevy Cruze Saloons on the roads and Jason Plato drives one in the BTCC so they must be pretty good. 

    My brother uses a Lacetti Estate for his work and at over 105K miles he’s had very, very little trouble!

  9. Think the Exeo is an exception as Seat wanted an entry to that market sector. The current Leon is on the same VW A5 platform as the A3 and Golf 6 already.


  10. I understand that the Cruze is a vast improvement on the Daewoo generation of Chevrolets but Jason Plato drives one because he is paid to do so. I would suggest that the touring car has very little to do with the road car.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.