Although not a clean sheet design the development of the Avocet into its final form shows the full design process that we apply to all our projects.
The starting point for any vehicle is the stance or the relationship between the body and the road. Of specific note is the space between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch. These seemingly mundane elements define and establish the manner in which we view a vehicle and its intent. The slightly nose down attitude of the Avocet creates a sense of tension and dynamic intent achieved through the rigorous engineering and development of the cars by an integrated team of designer and engineers.
The brief of the Avocet called for a small, compact car with class leading performance and design. The body system comprised of a single piece molding with additional drop in panels for the bonnet and engine cover. At all stages of the development simplicity was encouraged to reduce cost, complication and ease of production.
The design had to be striking but avoid the current trend of ‘folded paper’ surfacing that would date and prove difficult to mould in GRP. Instead a classic form language was adopted with muscled haunches and bulging wheel arches. Whilst a small car, some of the feature lines sinuously travel from the front to the rear, twisting and undulating with the form.
The front graphic is muscled and tough, the headlight shape creating a sense of aggression and focus. Some of the more expensive features of production cars had to be discounted due to cost so instead of a bespoke head and tail light arrangements great effort was placed on the integration of existing units within the design to add impact and value.
At the rear a conscious decision to highlight the minimal overhang proved to be key to the unique appearance of the car. Through the avoidance of overt details the rear vent graphic accentuates the surprising width of the Avocet whilst the classic round lights housed within bespoke bezels affords the design a timeless appeal.
One of the surprising details of the car is the detachable luggage system that mounts on the rear engine cover just behind the seats. Moulded in carbon fibre they are feather light and beautifully detailed with leather straps and stainless latches echoing the classic luggage racks of 60’s sport cars.
In the purposeful interior there are few distractions from the driving experience. The carbon fibre bucket seats clamp you firmly in place whilst a notable change from convention is the right hand gear change in the driver’s side pod. This feature can be found in racing cars of yesteryear and provides the user with an incredibly short and positive shift, allowing the driver to keep their hands on the wheel more of the time. The instruments are clear and well placed avoiding the ergonomic errors of other low volume manufacturers. The only concession to modern technology is the power socket for your iPod or navigation system.
To drive, one is immediately aware of the tight and rigid ride with a quick and smooth steering rack transmitting all surface information to the user. Power is prodigious with 225bhp available in a car weighing only 650kg. Acceleration is vivid, the bark and pop of the twin exhausts adding to the sense of speed.
Overall the car is a striking and cohesive design that answers a very specific brief that was developed over an extended period. Photos do not capture the petite size of the Avocet but its impact is unavoidable. The minimal overhangs and broad stance leave viewers in little doubt as to its latent capabilities and performance.