As some carmakers have done in recent years, Geely Auto used online media to launch the ICON, its latest compact SUV, to an audience across China. Just like its online vehicle purchasing service that was launched earlier this month, this online event was appropriate given the restricted movements in many areas due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Geely Auto received over 30,000 orders in the hours leading up to its launch through online pre-ordering.
The ICON’s design began life with a concept model of the same name which was shown at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show with a style described as ‘avant-garde minimalistic analogue-inspired’. Breaking from the traditional SUV design trend, Geely designers used a ‘less is better’ design ethos to move towards a purer ‘more 8-bit analogue’ form.
Global collaboration in design
The ICON is the result of global collaboration with input from Geely’s five global design centres. In particular, the exterior that was developed at its California design studio while the interior was conceived in the Barcelona studio with both being revised and brought to completion at the Shanghai studio.
On the exterior, the arrangements of the headlamps has been patterned after an infinity loop, a symbol of time, creating a unique split design. The arrangement is not only visually appealing but also improves lighting efficiency by 30% and extends road visibility to 165 metres.
Visually minimalistic with focus on technology
While being visually minimalistic, the ICON has put a focus on technology. One example: intelligent flushed door handles pop out when users approach and retract when they leave, giving the ICON a clean visual image while in motion or parked.
This new Geely model is the first in its segment to make use of 48V mild hybrid technologies that help extend fuel consumption to 17.5 kms/litre. The 48V system boosts the powerplant with a further 10 kW of power and 45 Nm of torque giving a total of 140 kW and 300 Nm. With a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, the claimed 0 – 100 km/h acceleration time is 7.9 seconds.
Inside the ICON, the same design philosophy as used for the exterior helps give the cabin a futuristic sci-fi feel. The symbol of time is once again visually present in the design form of the air vents and central console.
Large dual interactive 10.25-inch screens, an information panel and central infotainment console dominate the dashboard. From the two interior screens and mobile devices, users can interact with ICON and connect to the world through the GKUI Geely Smart Ecosystem.
The ICON will have, as standard, a new Intelligent Air Purification System (IAPS) that is N95 certified. This system, developed in record time as an immediate response to the ongoing epidemic, is a works together with the air conditioner to isolate and eliminate harmful elements in the cabin air including bacteria and viruses.
Smart technologies for safety
The ICON comes with benchmark-setting smart technologies. Its Level 2+ intelligent driving technologies are supported by 12 ultrasonic radars, millimetre-wave radar, and 5 high-definition cameras. Other driver-assist features include intelligent cruise control, lane-keep assistance, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian recognition, and one-button automatic parking.
Geely’s 360 ° Safety Identification Circle is enhanced by an additional 180°. On top of being able to see a 360° panoramic image of the vehicle on the interior screens, there is also a 180° view from the side, front, or rear of the car, effectively eliminating all blind spots from the driver’s seat.
Addressing millions of viewers online, Geely Auto Group President & CEO, An Conghui said: “Geely ICON’s launch not only showcases the core strength of Geely’s global development network, it also shows our forward thinking and demonstrates the high-tech digital future we are all moving toward. It represents Geely’s leap from merely meeting user demands to creating leading trends. Just as the Geely ICON will become a new icon for global SUVs, Geely Auto will also become an icon in terms of automotive technologies and global auto brands.”
Will Proton get the ICON?
Every time Geely launches a new model, there seems to be the expectation that it will also carry a Proton badge in due course. While Geely would be contributing some models and certainly sharing platforms, it doesn’t mean that it will let Proton have every model. There will be marketing considerations, R&D costs (since a righthand drive version would have to be developed) and also positioning of the product against other brands in the group.
Having said that, the ICON looks like a good candidate as a global model and we would not be surprised if Azlan Othman and his Proton Design team are already coming up with Malaysianised proposals.