Daewoo Musiro concept at Birmingham Motor Show
The Mirae was designed and built at Daewoo's Worthing Technical Centre as the first high performance sports car with the space and flexibility of an MPV. Yet it was a beautiful low-slung coupé, with a straight-six engine mounted over the rear wheels, giving high performance and pin-sharp handling. This project gave birth to the concept of a Versatile Sports Car (VSC), an industry first.
Chock-full of technology normally found in the cockpits of cutting-edge military aircraft, the Mirae was the result of Daewoo's designers looking a long way into the future to see how cars in 2010 would look and drive and to anticipate the sort of technology that would become available to them.
'Designed Around You' was the mantra behind the Mirae. Its unique reconfigurable seating arrangement allowed room for four adults, yet it brought a new dimension of flexibility to the sports car concept. The drive-by-wire technology incorporated in the Mirae enabled the driver to move the steering wheel and pedals fully from one side of the car to the other, allowing the interior to be tailored to specific needs. This meant awkward loads could be carried, kids would be within reach and there was room for all the occupants' luggage - not just weekend bags. All this within a shape that stopped visitors to last year's Motor Show in their tracks.
Given the Mirae's all-round credentials as a sports car-cum-people carrier, a design conundrum that had never previously been resolved, Daewoo showed that it wasn't just its industry-leading ownership package which put the customer first, it was the whole design process.
'Sensual Strength' represents Daewoo's design philosophy, encompassing what Daewoo's core design and brand values should represent. Five words sum up this philosophy: Emotional, Dynamic Ensconcing, Athletic, Secure.
The Musiro - from a Korean word meaning 'any time' - also had to embody the same 'Designed Around You' principles as the Mirae. However, as it is a car conceived with production in mind, the futuristic technology, such as fly-by-wire controls that can be moved from side to side within the car, had to be discarded in favour of established mechanical solutions.
Chris Milburn, Chief Designer at Daewoo's Worthing Technical Centre, said: "The main premise of Musiro was to create an image-builder, a sporting vehicle which would have a halo effect on the rest of the range. We came up with this sports coupé, a two-plus-two, in a bold design, but with a very European feel to it.
"However, that's not to say that the flexibility of Musiro has been compromised. The seating configuration brings previously unheard of levels of practicality to a sports coupé. For example, the front passenger seat will slide all the way forward to fit flush with the fascia, allowing long loads to fit, improved ingress and egress and better interaction with passengers in the rear, things for which coupés are not usually known. 'Designed Around You' has indeed been passed from father to son.
The Musiro's family lineage is clear. It is a sculpturally beautiful car, with strong design references first seen in the Mirae. The hunched rear three-quarters give the car a powerful yet lithe appearance, a look that Mirae had in abundance and, cliché notwithstanding, it's difficult not to think of a feline metaphor.
The colour of the Musiro adds to the feeling of sophistication. The design team worked closely with industry-leading paint supplier PPG to develop a hue which was understated but also eye-catching. The latter quality comes from the gold 'flip' - the tinge or haze that appears to envelop the car from certain angles - which gives the car a youthful zest. When the first-time observer describes the car as being: "Green, but with a hint of gold," a shaking of heads will inevitably follow, but it is a fair description that can only be believed when it is seen.
Juan Jose Delhom, Exterior Designer, says: "The surface treatments are very subtle. It's not shouting at you, but it catches your attention. The side view is characterised by a cab-forward appearance, giving it a purposeful stance which is striking and confident, yet subtle, sophisticated and understated. This is not a car that needs scoops and spoilers to give it presence. Musiro is the four-wheel embodiment of 'Less Is More'.
Mark Oldham, Senior Exterior Designer, says: "You will be able to see in the Musiro certain design cues from the Mirae. At the front and the rear is the T-shape, which is taken from a Norman helmet, something that is also carried over into the interior."
From day one, Musiro was going to be an open-top car. Yet soft-tops are, by their very nature, a compromise. Taking the roof, or part of it, off a car means its handling is more likely to be indecisive, so it needs structural reinforcement, which makes it heavier and therefore less responsive. And to cap it all, the roof has to be stowed away somewhere when it's not in use, which is a design headache.
Daewoo's designers at Worthing have managed to reconcile the need to stow the Musiro's roof unobtrusively without compromising the cabin or boot space. In a unique piece of engineering, the solid roof panel and rear glass window articulate themselves, using the cant rails over the doors and side windows as guides, and disappear behind the rear seats. The boot loses virtually none of its capacity, the rear passengers are not affected either and there is no trade-off in dynamic ability.
Juan Jose Delhom, says: "When we started the project we looked at several options for the roof and this idea held a lot of appeal because it retains the structural integrity of the car, but it is compact when folded away."
Mark Oldham says: "It works well with the fast cant rail along the sides and it gives a weight-forward feel to it. It's unique and very robust because it uses the cant rails as an integral part of the design to control the mechanism."
Other sports coupés which boast fully automated roof folding and stowage systems essentially dictate that if the car's occupants are driving across Europe with a week's luggage, they will be unable to lower the roof as the temperature rises because their bags are taking up the space the folded roof would need. This is not a problem a Musiro driver would ever be faced with.
The Musiro's interior was conceived to reflect the values and principles which underpin the exterior's design. The design team felt that all too often a car's interior bears little or no relation to the ideas that have made the exterior what it is. Given that the appearance of Musiro is characterised by an understated confidence, where the functionality of the car and its stunning form complement each other to a tee, it was essential that the materials used, and the shape within the interior were cool, classy, chic yet not ostentatious.
The use of the translucent green weave material engenders the interior with an organic, open and relaxing feel. The paler green leather on the seats will appeal to the young, while retaining an emotional appeal for more mature car enthusiasts who remember classic cars they have owned or lusted after which had a leather interior. The smell of a leather interior can act as the sensory trigger for a nostalgic moment in a car lover.
Louise Woodward, Colour and Trim Designer, says: "The colours were chosen because they were fresh and sophisticated, but not too young. We are very aware of what is going on in fashion and interior design and we settled upon the weave structure as we felt this was going to become a popular style. We then set about developing the textile."
The interior design team used the weave material to minimise the feeling that the seats in a vehicle act as a barrier between people, which can add to the claustrophobic sensation in many cars, particularly compact coupés. This is another part of the Mirae's DNA that has been handed down to Musiro. In the Mirae the seats were made of sculpted transparent plastic which didn't act as a visual barrier between occupants, yet it added to the feeling of airiness.
Dominique Raye, Colour and Trim Design Manager, says: "With the weave material, we wanted to show that it was a light component that can be seen through. There is a contrast between the solid feel of the leather and the transparent weave. These materials are fashionable and are supported by the colour of the tinted windows inspired by the current trend in coloured sunglasses."
A strong emphasis was also put on the tactility of the cabin, after all it is where the driver interacts with the car. If the surfaces are good to touch, every time the car is driven feel-good messages will permeate the driver's subconscious, adding to an overall feeling of driving pleasure.
Paul Wraith, Interior Designer, says: "The interior is very bold and quite surprising and fashion conscious. Our aim was to make it very attractive and very useful. Ultimately, good design is very important to the car, but if it is beautiful as well, that means more. In our eyes it is both of those things."
With the stunning cabin design, and the innovative use of materials therein, coupled with the ultra-flexible interior features that bring to the Musiro a level of functionality never before seen in a designed-for-production coupé, it is clear that the interior lives up to the expectation placed on it by the striking exterior design.
With the Daewoo Musiro, you can have your cake and eat it. It is a car that will turn heads, but not only at weekends. It is a seven days a week car, which will carry awkward loads, the family, their luggage and, if the weather permits, it will let the sun shine on you while you do it. A Versatile Sports Car indeed!
Length (mm) 4250
Width (mm) 1780
Height (mm) 1340
Wheelbase (mm) 2540
Estimated top speed (mph) 135
Estimated 0-60 (secs) 7.9
XS6 - in-line six cylinder 2.5-litre engine
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