Raffaele Anile, Nicolo Bettinelli, Fiorenzo Fiorentino and Fabrizio Luciano, students of automotive design at IED Italy, in collaboration with Suzuki, have presented the U:man design concept for their dissertation to pay tribute to the Suzuki’s legendary off-road vehicle – Jimny. EVW connected with the team to know about this hybrid 4X4 SUV, and here is the story.
The brief was to design a car for Suzuki which had the characteristic of being an off-road vehicle, which represents the legends of Jimny and Vitara but being made for everyone rather than extreme performance or overdesign.
Our focus was not to push as much performance out of the engine, which is a hybrid configuration. The styling and technology are what we want to get out of modern technology.
In the beginning, we shared our first sketches with Suzuki to let them see what our mind was going through. They liked this mid-size SUV vehicle, and they wanted us to bring the feeling of the Jimny in this vehicle. We decided to make it a 4-seater, not 5-seater so that every occupant can have the same comfort. Going with the idea, we developed the project, and I did some characteristic styling such as the rollbar which integrates with the rear. We also explored some out-of-the-box ideas like putting the screen on B-Pillar as well as using action cameras for the rearview mirrors.
We didn’t want to design the stylized vehicle. In our mind, this car has to show its character through simple volume roof and show the lines as seen in the sketches. Finding the right mass was the real challenge. After a lot of struggling, we came to the base, which is the basic volume of a car without any detail on it.
Identity of the car that can be first seen is the dashboard line, centre console and the seats. This is also following the same concept of fewer recognizable elements.
In the front, we wanted to keep a basic styling, but make the car muscular and wide. As off-road vehicles have the tendency to be very tall, so by pushing the wheels more to the corners, we could make this car more spacious inside but also make it more muscular.
We wanted to give it a technological feel by introducing a headlight display which acts like most of the other concept. Our goal was not to innovate in a way that it would be more expensive to add it in a production vehicle. So we started with the basic function to improve the driving sensation of the car but also the life of the pedestrians or the other vehicles that approach this car.
In the front bumper, some covers hide the fog lights and a tow hitch. These covers act as protection when they are not used.
We wanted to give the Bonnet a clean look with a simple surfacing. We didn’t want to over stylize it so we have through the Suzuki’s history books and again we got inspired a lot from Suzuki Jimny. We adapted it so that it connects to the shoulder line to the mirrors.
Speaking about the mirrors, there is the double use of the action camera, which is a GoPro. It can be removed and used for the purpose.
On the B-Pillar, we integrated a screen which is supposed to give you the information about the vehicle and also it is connected to the widget system on your phone, so that you can display calendar and appointments without going inside the vehicle.
Moving to the side of the car, we didn’t want to use the plain doors, we felt like it needed some graphic characterization and it also had to have a function. So the doors come with plastic trims and metal handles which are integrated within the trim and coordinate with the colour of the rollbar.
As it is a tall vehicle, the ground clearance is around 30 cm. To get in, it would be challenging for older people or adults. So we decided to make side bumpers functional which opens the same time as the door. It’s much convenient for the user.
While going with this kind of approach, we also had to accommodate the soft top opening. We decided to have both the options – fixed fabric roof and a panoramic glass roof.
Another function that we wanted to add since the beginning was a tailgate which allows for ease of access to the given area of the car. If you want to relax, you want to open it so that you can sit on the third bench.
We have integrated the sensors in the trim so that they are not visible but also protected from light, reflections and other things. They have AI functions to facilitate the users with better driving experience. Basically, these are cameras with AI software.
The design of the wheels is very much inspired by the classic off-road concept, which basically is 6 spokes with an open design. The rubber compound has been used over the rim for the safety purpose.
Starting with the interior, the first piece of design was the dashboard. We wanted to make it more functional than usual by adding a soundbar which is a concept taken from the Home Theatre setup. We did it to maximize the cabin space and to make the door panel a bit slimmer. This soundbar also integrates the AC vents.
For a better driving experience, the dashboard has a large screen which can be controlled via the widescreen control dial.
Steering Wheel & Cluster
The classic steering wheel comes with the instrument panel control knob. Combining tech and analogue, the cluster provides only the vital information to the driver.
The centre console integrates some comforts for the users like USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Divided into two sections, the top part of centre console houses electrical component while the bottom one acts as the storage for the seats.
The seats are inspired by a lounger as they are made by three split pieces. Seats are plug-ins so it can be replaced. The user can choose the material and colour of seats as per the convenience. The eats have high bolsters which let users sit more comfortably.
The door panel houses a pocket and a vertical handle which separates the armrest from the storage net.
The rear of the SUV has the same space as in the front. For the comfort of rear occupants, a baggage area in the centre console and side pockets are provided.
The C pillar is placed internally to mitigate the blind spot effect. The exposed rollbar allows full side windows which enhance the visibility.
The spacious trunk can comfortably accommodate large bags or equipment and make the journey hassle-free.
The AC Vents are designed to be characteristic of the interior. The inspiration was the fanless coolers which have the fan on their bottom and blow the air through the gaps in the plastic.
We have four interior patterns – City, Forest, Tropical and Snow that can be painted on every element of the vehicle. Basically, the user decides the pattern and colour combination.
Following are the different palette examples –
- Tropical – Sunrise Orange Paint, Pastel Orange Accents, Bright Orange Fabric, Really White Fabric
- City – Not quite Titanium Paint, Almost Green Accents, Dull Green Fabric, Intense Gray Fabric
- Forest – Moss Green Paint, Pastel Orange Accents, Bright Orange Fabric, Intense Gray Fabric
- Snow – Sky Blue Paint, Radioactive Yellow Accents, Radioactive Yellow Fabric, Intense Gray Fabric
The logo of the vehicle represents three different shapes exhibiting three elements – Concreteness, Character and Harmony.