Use to be, carmakers would run an early prototype through the largest bandsaw they could find, file down the sharp edges and call it a cutaway. But like anything else, competition for consumers' eyes has forced display creators to be ever more clever, escalating the state of the art. I'm not afraid to say the trend accelerated significantly a couple of years ago, when Ford trotted out a bisected GT for all to walk through. It was quite a crowd-pleaser. Fast forward to now, and you'll see this trend on display at this years Detroit show. My favorites (for different reasons) were the Smart Fourtwo, Buick Enclave and Chevy Volt. The Smart display was really kind of quaint; they just brought in a frame and highlighted the important parts with paint (and apparently ran out of time before they had to hand it in). Also, look how tiny it is! Mid-range scores across the board: it uses the ingredients in traditional ways, is presented cleanly, but offers nothing groundbreaking.
The Enclave display really is a treat for both consumer and the car dork. They chopped it in a nice curve front to back, and you can walk down the middle, play with all the buttons, work all of the mechanisms, feel the seats and check out the suspension. Very high marks for usability and presentation, though the creative use of ingredients could be better.
Finally, the Chevy Volt — a little bit cutaway, a little bit wire frame. This exotic offering focused less on the body shell than it did on the powertrain, for obvious reasons. For me, the Volt was truly a less-is-more experience. The excellent preparation and delicate attention to existing panels made up for the lack of interior, and who could forget those two plug in ports — delicious! Excellent presentation, interesting reinterpretation of the genre, and excellent technical innovation.
The chairman declares the victor to be.. Iron Chef Chevrolet!