This time around, the Italian design house might have outdone itself completely with the unveiling of the Clipper, a peculiar-looking MPV whose eccentricity can’t be measured at least until you see what its fully capable of.
For a company that given us the Parcour and the Brivido in past auto shows, the Clipper certainly fits into that edgy design and sharpness that its two predecessors had.
But arguably the most interesting parts about the Clipper are its similarities with the Volkswagen Tex Concept it designed for VW at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. That, or our eyes are just playing tricks on us.
In any case, this is the Clipper MPV, folks. Chances are, you won’t see another one quite like it in the near future.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Italdesign Giugiaro Clipper Concept
The front end design of the Clipper Concept isn’t as distinctive as the Brivido and the Parcour, but it does hold some quality attributes that bears mentioning.
Even if its labeled as an MPV concept, the design house fully admitted that in designing the Clipper, it wanted to do it to make the concept look closer to a production level, albeit add some exotic elements to it so as not to lose the concept character that Giugiaro is known for. So don’t be surprised if the front end looks pretty subtle, although props to the unconventional bumper setup.
What really excited us about the concept is the absence of a conventional B-pillar on the sides. Instead, Giugiaro opted to go with a funky door configuration featuring "butterfly" doors at the front and "gull-wing" doors on the rear. It’s a little confusing to look at when all the doors are "open", but hey, it’s unique, right?
The panoramic windscreen that sweeps all the way back to the rear spoiler is a nice touch, although the rear end of the concept, despite being inundated with heaps of light clusters, looks a little too boxy to us.
For an MPV, the three-row, six-seater configuration of the Clipper does provide generous amounts of space. Headroom could be an issue for tall passengers because of the low and swooping nature of the roof, but for the most part, the cabin received plenty of shiny new features.
The configuration is decidedly high-tech, which is a good thing given that the car still is a concept. There’’s a floating digital instrument cluster that evokes style and function, the latter of which serves the use of breaking up all the information you’re getting into two different screens.
An electronically adjustable center tunnel can also be seen and with it comes an 11-inch touchscreen display that quite frankly looks like one of those gear panels you see more in planes than in cars. Giugiaro said that buttons are largely absent in the configuration and instead replaced by "graphic touchscreen interfaces". That sounds like a novel twist, but wouldn’t it have been far more functional to be able to feel what you’re pressing, instead of jamming away at a screen?
The interior does have a fancy two-tone Alcantara upholstery and four iPad Minis integrated into the headrests of the first and second row seats, so that’s a nice plus on the Clipper’s cabin marks.
Power for the Giugiaro Clipper comes in the form of two electric motors that each produce 149 horsepower, for a total output of 298 horsepower. It’s driven by an all-wheel-drive system and when its on full blast on the road, the concept can hit a top speed of 126 mph while also being efficient enough to travel 335 miles before running out of charge.
When Can I Drive One?
Despite looking more like an actual production car than a concept (except for those doors), the chances of the Clipper Concept making its way into production are pretty slim. Now, you can’t really close the door on that option seeing as the design house is owned by Volkswagen and this concept could very well point to a future VW model that we still don’t know about.
Still and all, in its current guise, the Clipper will likely remain a concept and not much else.
Giugiaro went with overall subtlety mixed in with the bombast of the weird door setup and while it might work for some people, we admit to being spoiled by the Brivido and Parcour concepts that nothing short of the standards both those concepts set would be a disappointment to us. Sadly, that’s what the Clipper ended up being.
Overall design lacks ’wow’ factor’
For a concept, it looks more like a production model
No plans of production
In a world preview, Italdesign Giugiaro presents its brand new concept car, Clipper: a sporty, versatile MPV which is also eco-friendly, thanks to the all-electric drive and power source.
Clipper is the result of a study in style and engineering focusing on tomorrow’s world and cities: this sporty MPV has a technological spirit and a green heart. Thanks to the versatile MQB modular platform developed by Volkswagen Group, it can accommodate up to 6 people, seated in three rows of two seats; it features anelectric powertrain comprising two 110 kW engines, housed one up front and one at the back, guaranteeing a range of 540 km. It has four-wheel drive with fully independent wheels. The battery packs are housed in the floor, specially designed to afford maximum protection against accidental impact from the road while driving.
"This year", states Giorgetto Giugiaro "we wanted to focus our styling and engineering research on a project for a deliberately not futuristic car. The only concession to exotic styling lies in the door opening mechanisms, with “butterfly” doors at the front and “gull-wing” at the back.
We concentrated instead on devising an architectural solution to satisfy the need for a spacious, comfortable interior, also exploiting the advantages of the technology at our disposal today. An example of this is the flat floor, typical of electric vehicles, and the mobile modules of the interior which can be modified, with the controls and dashboards developed in line with the “touch feeling” concept so that the compartment adapts to the needs of driver and passengers. As always, the name of the vehicle hints at its personality traits:
"clipper" ships enjoyed their heyday in the latter half of the 19th century; quiet and streamlined, they transported precious cargo like spices".
Clipper was designed, engineered and built at the Italdesign Giugiaro plant in Moncalieri (Turin).
DESIGN OF THE INTERIORS
The design for the passenger compartment’s outfit of Clipper represents the true revolutionary element of this concept car. Effective use of space, combined with original and highly innovative architectural solutions, not to mention the use of brand new technology that emphasises user-friendly, intuitive design, makes GiugiaroClipper a veritable automotive research & design lab.
The six occupants can all get into the car at the same time thanks to the simultaneous opening of the doors and the absence of the B-pillar: with this architectural solution, Clipper offers one single, wide opening for access to the interior.
The interior design team at Italdesign Giugiaro designed the instrument panel with one watchword only in mind: lightness.
The central instrument cluster, based on the latest digital interfaces, does not rest on the dashboard as is usually the case, but is floating and attached to the upper part of the instrument panel. Driver information is displayed on two screens, one positioned in the classic spot, recessed in the dashboard; the other, meanwhile, is housed in the upper part of the instrument cluster and projects the information onto the perspex cover of the first monitor, titled at an angle of approx. 45°. The information from the two screens is complementary and the overall effect created for the driver is similar to a 3-D holographic projection.
Three screens are integrated in the section of instrument panel in front of the passenger: the first, farthest left, shows the images from the camera which replaces the rear-view mirror; the other two, meanwhile, provide the usual information relating to navigation and infotainment.
For passenger compartment climate control, a sleek aperture runs the entire width of the instrument panel.
The typical electric vehicle architecture with flat floor allowed the designers to exploit the space between the seats and create an innovative mobile tunnel with 11” touchscreen.
The almost complete absence of conventional buttons, replaced by graphic touchscreen interfaces, has made it possible to exploit the latest available technology, for lighter surfaces and simpler controls. The touchscreen on the central tunnel groups together all the climate control and infotainment controls. The only buttons present are the start/stop button for the powertrain, that for gear selection and the electronic handbrake, integrated in the armrest. To the side of the armrests are the door opening buttons.
The tunnel can be fully adjusted electronically by means of two buttons located on the front seats: the touchscreen folds down for discreet storage under the cushion; the tunnel structure has a stroke of 50 cm and can be slid fully back to facilitate movement between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, a useful option in the event of an obstruction preventing exit from one of the doors.
Four iPad Minis are integrated in the headrests for passengers seated in rows two and three. The seats of the two back rows can be folded flat to create one large load platform offering a total volume of around 900 litres.
The steering wheel is multifunctional and, here too, the buttons have been replaced by two mini touch pads that replicate the main control functions and allow the direction indicators to be activated.
The external lights and windscreen wipers activate automatically.
The collaboration with Alcantara
For the upholstery of the interiors, the Color& Trim department of Italdesign Giugiaro developed a new project, in partnership with Alcantara, which enhances the welcoming yet hi-tech feel of the interior, emphasizing the innovative, light architecture.
The result is a geometric diamond pattern in Castel Rock grey, digitally printed on a white Alcantara ground, which gradually opens into a looser mesh design, creating an interesting optical effect that graduates from dark to light. The digital print is applied to the Alcantara ground without detracting in any way from the aesthetic, tactile and functional characteristics of the material, which remains smart and stylish, soft and pleasant to the touch, yet light and incredibly hard-wearing. This exclusive version of Alcantara is used for several prominent areas of the interior: it can be seen on the instrument panel, steering wheel, central tunnel, oddments compartment and the back shell of the seats.
The very essence of this hi-tech, electric vehicle designed to accommodate up to six occupants means that Clipper is perfectly in step with the times. Thinking of a world that is constantly connected and always interacting, Italdesign Giugiaro developed an app that allows car occupants to stay connected with each other and the outside world: Carlink.
Occupants can activate the app on the tablets and access a private network that allows them to share documents and diaries, chat or play in multiplayer mode with the other occupants in the car.
DESIGN OF THE EXTERIOR
The car’s entirely electric set-up and the use of the MQB platform with its flat floor dictated the overall look of Clipper also in terms of the design of the exterior.
Clipper has a deliberately functional setting which is designed to make the best possible use of interior space, so the driver and passengers are guaranteed the highest level of comfort.
"We rationalized like never before, while designing Clipper" explained Giorgetto Giugiaro, "and we built the car as if it were, in theory, close to the production level, apart from a few necessary modifications. The only "exotic" license we allowed ourselves was to eliminate the conventional B-pillar and design the car with “butterfly” doors at the front and “gull-wing” doors at the back".
The B-pillar is actually integrated in the structure of the back doors, concealed below the windows: this solution guarantees a single, large opening for access to all three rows of seats in the passenger compartment, further facilitated by the automatic and simultaneous opening of front and back doors on the same side.
When exiting the vehicle from the rear seats, the electronic system guarantees safety at all times by releasing and lifting the front door first, followed by the back door.
The electric engine dictated the design of the front: with no need to incorporate a front grille for radiator cooling as required in cars with endothermic engines, two air intakes were positioned vertically between the light clusters and the wheel arches; another two were included horizontally just under the headlights to channel the airflow under the floor where the battery packs are housed, for the purpose of cooling. Two similar vents are positioned at the back of the car for extraction of the air flow.
The curve of the waistline traces a sleek line from the front bonnet along the side of the car all the way to the C-pillar, giving Clipper a dynamic, sporty look, further emphasized by the design of the wheel arches, which merge progressively into the side.
The panoramic windscreen sweeps all the way back to the rear spoiler, ensuring even passengers in the back row of seats enjoy superb visibility.
The generously sized rear tailgate sports integrated light clusters whose main functions are duplicated, when the tailgate is open, by additional lights built into the rear bumper, ensuring the vehicle is perfectly visible and the passengers safe at all times.
Below the C-pillar
are two concealed vents that ensure a constant supply of fresh air inside the passenger compartment.
CLIPPER DUCATI VERSION
The versatility of the Clipper project is illustrated by the Ducati version, a great attraction at the Italdesign Giugiaro booth at the Geneva Motor Show.
In this “vanette” version, Clipperfeatures doors of a different design and a slightly different C-pillar compared to the original outfit.
This variant is dedicated to Ducati, one of the most prestigious Italian brands, famous around the world, which together with Audi, Lamborghini and Italdesign Giugiaro, makes up the Audi Group.
The livery thus sports the official Ducati colours and graphics in a tribute to the imminent world championship season.
The Italdesign Giugiaro style centre has also designed an original towing trailer for the Ducati Panigale 1199 S which complements the style and performance of all models to leave the BorgoPanigale plant: a good omen for a year of even better results.
THE COLLABORATION WITH LANIFICIO CERRUTI CONTINUES
For the presentation of the new Clipper prototype, LanificioCerruti has developed an exclusive fabric in the finest cashmere for Italdesign Giugiaro, featuring impermeability and breathability performance which is unique for this type of material.
These technological characteristics are achieved by applying a special film at the back of the fabric, which makes it impermeable yet preserves its breathability. Nor does this alter the natural softness of the cashmere, which is bathed in Teflon as a surface treatment.
LanificioCerruti and Italdesign Giugiaro have taken the particular characteristics of this fabric and used it to create a line of exclusive products for the Clipper.