Among the many electric vehicles at CES this year was one from Turkey’s Togg. Togg is a startup in the sense that it was founded only in 2018, but it also really isn’t because it’s actually a consortium of six different long-running Turkish entities, one of which is a beverage manufacturer and another, a telecom. It’s working on bringing an electric SUV to the market by the end of 2022. There’s going to be a sedan too, and wouldn’t you know it’s designed by Pininfarina.
Then again, you probably wouldn’t know it. The prototype Togg brought to CES — snappily named the Transition Concept Smart Device — has intrigued me all week. Not because there’s anything especially interesting about it; in fact, it’s remarkably restrained and seemingly production-spec. If it’s anything like Togg’s yet-unnamed SUV, it’ll go a little more than 483 km on a charge, which is perfectly in line with the bulk of the market.
No — what leaps out to me about the Device, as I’ll call it to save time, is how underdesigned it is for a product from one of the world’s foremost automotive design houses.
This thing is totally soulless. It’s not ugly, but it isn’t beautiful. It lacks any distinctive features. The headlights look pulled off a last-gen Kia Optima; the running lights remind me of something, or maybe everything. A recent Buick? I can’t put my finger on it, because it’s so remarkably generic.
The side of the Device has rear-hinged doors, which I appreciate and would love to see on more cars. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything else to point out about it. It’s a liftback, like a lot of electric pseudo-sedans, and it incorporates aluminium trim in the greenhouse to accentuate the roofline and suggest an arc, which would be a neat touch if every other manufacturer wasn’t doing it too.
I’ve run out of ways to express my boredom looking at this car, so just study this picture of the rear for yourself.
Inside, it looks fine enough: I won’t complain about blue suede in any application, and the split steering wheel is kind of cool looking, if nothing else. It’s mostly screen as you’d expect, though the chunky bezel around the lower centre stack display reminds me of something out of a recent Subaru. At least in a Subaru it’d be populated with physical controls.
Overall I’m just left confused how Pininfarina could sign off on something that looks like one of Torch’s average car experiments. Sure, not every client’s getting the Ferrari treatment, and studios like Pininfarina and Italdesign have penned their share of bland cars over the years. But even the company’s work for Vinfast and Chery doesn’t look like a banal amalgamation of everything else on the road, and the SUV it’d done for Togg earlier at least has a distinctive grille. Maybe Togg directed it not to make anything remotely ambitious to match the concept’s name. Maybe Pininfarina was just taking the check here, which I can also understand.