One of the trends that is seen strongly in the Auto Show circuit for 2017 is the democratization of the “Sport Model”.
No matter the vehicle segment – from small cars to midsize, high volume cars and from small pickups to large SUVs – a sport model with several pieces of common design elements and equipment can be found.
The core of the current “Sport Model” craze is that many elements on the vehicle are “blacked out”. Because Black = Sport in the world of mass-market auto design. Core components of this blacking-out are:
- Wheels are painted black (various levels of shine/gloss may be seen)
- Front grilles are blackened
- Lower front and rear diffusers (the lowest part of the front and rear bumper areas) are painted black or have some blackness added
- The chrome around the windows (called the greenhouse by designers) is blackened.
Additional actions may or may/not be taken on these models as well, such as:
- Special stitching on the interior
- Blackened-out or carbon-fiber looking trim on the dash or doors
- Special badging or “labelling” of this sport trim. This could lead to tie-ins with special events/movies or other co-branding
Examples seen here are the Chevrolet Malibu Red Line and the Toyota RAV4 Adventure. Both are new for MY18. Their effort is to expand the appeal of what is a high-volume car to others that may be “turned off” by the commonality of the vehicle.
But who are these models meant for?
These Sport Model trims or special models are designed to attract the mainstream buyer of a certain model that wants the extra sport image. Many high-volume models would be more attractive to customers if they were not “owned by everyone and their brother”. These mass- customizations allow the brand to give something special to buyers that are on the bubble. They are meant to give a sense of value to the buyer – they are getting something extra without having to pay the top price. Also, they could never put all the “blacked-out” pieces together by themselves in the aftermarket for the same price. Thus the “value” of the sport model or special edition.
Most sport models are NOT the top-end of what is offered. Rather, they are priced right below the mid-point of the trims offered; again, the goal is to appeal to the average customer but give them something extra while adding to the feeling of value. The exception to this is the Special Model that may be co-branded. These types of models are often the most expensive as they are exclusive to the brands involved and do not exist (usually) beyond one model year.
A good example of the Sport Model at the high end is the Black Edition for the Honda Rigdeline Pickup. This new for MY17 pickup has had a successful launch for the Honda brand, but now the lifecycle is supported in its 2 nd year with this sportier-looking edition. Pickups can be seen as common, but this adds an element of sportiness – what Honda is known for overall – to the pickup category while continuing the sportiness of the Honda brand. For the buyer – they get a “cooler” looking pickup at a price well below what it would cost to customize all the element to black by themselves in the aftermarket.
This trend can also be seen with the Nissan Rogue One Star Wars Special Edition.
The Dodge Durango SRT is another example – but one where the “sport” performance of the look is backed up by the actual upgraded performance of the vehicle.
This trend is seen all the way up to the Luxury brands, such as the Range Rover Discovery. Note here the blacked-out wheels, mirror caps, trim around the doors, and grille. Even the side “spitzer” in front of the door is blacked-out.
Finally, the most extreme application of this trend seen so far is from Chevrolet. They are the most mass-market of the leading brands in the US – so it is impressive that they can in one fell swoop immediately offer a common sport trim on any and all of their portfolio of cars and trucks.
Chevrolet is calling this offer the Redline Series. As Chevy explains it, these special editions give your Chevy truck, car, crossover or SUV an urban, street-smart look.
From a base Cruze to the already sporty Camaro to the new MY18 Traverse to the Colorado pickup, the Red Line contains:
- black grilles and bowties,
- signature black wheels with red accents,
- black with red-background name labels,
- and other special features for each model.
So, when you are starting your research efforts and finding your best connection at Car-ED.com, be sure to investigate what trims or special editions may exist for your recommended matches.
They are likely to each have a Sport Edition or Special Model with blackened design elements available.