It looks like a sculpture when parked at the side of the road with its windows blacked out. Walk towards it with your smart-card in your pocket, though, and suddenly everything changes as the car that is more than a car, the car that is a trip-mate, recognises its owner.
The windows suddenly go clear and the passenger compartment lights up. The doors open at a light finger touch on the pillar, while the seat turns outward for you to sit down and be welcomed into the car. In a few seconds everything adjusts to your personal liking: squab, steering wheel, interior temperature and control panel configuration.
When you start the engine, you also activate a number of perimeter sensors that act as a virtual seat-belt. The Lancia Nea is futuristic inside and out. And its imaginative style is consistent with its hi-tech content.
The car features strong lines and broad shoulders that suggest great strength. It also looks high and compact to adapt more effectively to town requirements. The first thing that strikes you is the clear roof. This is held up by the frame and sinks beneath the glass at the front of the car as though it were a stick submerged in water.
It is an example of the play of transformations between visible and invisible, physical and virtual, that characterises the car. The Nea’s sculpted appearance is reinforced by the fact that the grille is built into the bonnet and is evident only as a bas relief, a virtual grille. The headlights also add to the futuristic appearance.
They are arranged like the slats of a Venetian blind and are self-adaptive. The Nea was also designed with young people in mind. For this reason, the interiors are trimmed with pale wood that gives the car class and up-to-date appeal.
Other metals and cloths used in the interior call to mind the strength of titanium and the softness of cashmere. At first sight, the passenger compartment is understated without any unnecessary frills.
The floor pan is completely flat and the seats are free to move around within a large passenger environment. Space becomes luxury and the switch between physical and virtual objects creates a new possibility for living.