Out looks rather like a small dirigible with its unpainted brushed aluminium body. To those seeking new design trends, Mitsubishi offers the Se-ro concept, which appeared at the Tokyo Show beside the “i”, previously seen in Frankfurt. In this issue of Auto & Design, Olivier Boulay, Mitsubishi’s Director of Design, describes the key stages in the development of these two important models that mark the end of a process, which began before his own arrival in Mitsubishi.

Half futuristic, half retro in appearance, the Se-ro’s name is a Japanese version of two English words: Secret Room, the private place kids retire to when they want to get away from the grown-ups. “In Japan”, explains Boulay, “homes are tiny and the car becomes a supplementary living space. That being the case, it was vital to make the interior of the Se-ro ultra-adaptable”. That interior is an attractive and relaxing place, the modernism of its aluminium elements counterpointed by the warmer, more domestic feel of soft leather on the seats and hide matting on the floor.

Equally high-tech in its own way, the four-seater “i” concept looks very different from the Se-ro. Its curvaceous lines and smoothly rounded surfaces might evoke memories of Eighties Biodesign, but the “i” is a lot more than merely stylish. In fact the egg-shaped body is the outcome of exhaustive wind-tunnel testing that culminated in a Cx of barely 0.24, a stunning achievement for a car only 3.5 m long. “Our product designs are a blend of Engineering and Nature, seen from the perspective of modern Japanese design, which we believe our clients will find seductive”, is how Boulay sums up the new Mitsubishi approach.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 144

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