Let’s talk about ugly vehicles. No, we’re not going to pick on the dead horses (read: Pontiac Aztek). I’d like to discuss the two types of disagreeable design. Proportions are important in automotive design but the details are vital as well. There seems to be a growing amount of glitz and shiny details on modern cars. I’m certainly not a fan but I think I’m able to forgive certain gaudy bits on a vehicle more easily than unfortunate proportions. So, I’m going to layout some proportionally ugly vehicles as well as some unattractive offerings due to unfortunate details. I’m no Robert Cumberford but I can tell when a vehicle misses the styling mark:
BMW X4/X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe/GLC Coupe
Whoever thought it was a good idea to morph an SUV into a coupe with four doors clearly doesn’t care what the finished product looks like. Sure, they sell (quite well in certain countries) but they are embarrassing to both German brands. Why Mercedes copied BMW—and, arguably, made their offerings even uglier—is beyond me. Oh, and these poor designs are all about bad proportions.
This car could have been great. Just take a look at the concept from 2015. The proportions were fantastic and the silhouette made me excited for the long-lost return of a proper, high-end Lincoln sedan. Unfortunately, the production car started with Ford’s ‘CD4’ front-wheel drive architecture. As such, the front third of the Continental doesn’t look right. The front wheels are too far back, giving an unattractive front overhang. Too bad Ford didn’t keep Volvo around as the SPA platform that underpins nearly all of its current products has fantastic proportions. Have a look at the Volvo S90 and you’ll see what I mean. At least the new Lincoln Aviator SUV shows that the marque does indeed understand proportions as that concept looks good—but what will the production version look like?
First, I need to note that I’ve not seen this giant British SUV in person. But based upon the photos and talking with a close, trusted friend who spent a day around the Cullinan, it’s an ill-proportioned behemoth. To be fair, the only modern Rolls-Royce that carries a lovely silloutte is a standard wheelbase Ghost. Sure, the latest Phantom is much nicer looking than the old piss-on-the-peasants model it’s still not pretty. The Ghost is the winner. If you don’t believe me, search the Internet and have a gander at the side profile shots of a monotone Ghost in grey or silver. The nice thing about these shots is they hide the ugly headlights. But getting back to the Cullinan, it’s as if the designers liked certain aspects of a Range Rover but wanted to go much bigger and more ostentatious. The huge piece of glass in the C pillars just doesn’t work. But was a Rolls-Royce SUV ever going to pretty and does the target market want pretty?
It’s not the proportions on the latest greenie Toyota, it’s the details. As a car enthusiast, I should hate the concept of a Prius—any Prius—but I actually don’t feel that way. A Prius is a good daily driver for certain people who are looking for efficient, practical transportation. Just make sure to buy a used, previous-generation Prius because the styling details on the latest version are horrendous. From the busy front end to the funky rear taillights, it just doesn’t work. I understand that Toyota wants the car to make a statement but I’m not sure what statement they’re trying to make here.
Honda Civic Type R
I absolutely love driving the Honda Civic Type R. It’s the best hot hatch on sale in North America from a driver’s perspective. I just need to wear a paper bag over my head when I’m behind the wheel so nobody sees me. It seems to be designed for the buyer who could never afford a $35,000 hatchback. Actually, it seems to be styled for someone who doesn’t yet hold a driver’s license. It’s not the giant rear wing that bothers me. It’s the red striping on the tacked-on body kit and wheels as well as the triple exhaust pipes. It’s also the huge grills on the front and back on the car, some that aren’t functional. Honda is just lucky the car is so brilliant to drive.
Sure, the proportions aren’t fantastic on the new Lambo SUV but it’s the details that really let it down. I do understand the need to make the Urus a proper Lamborghini (read: over-the-top). Plus, turning VW Group’s SUV platform into the Italians company’s first SUV in some 25 years is no easy task but couldn’t they have made it decent looking? The front end is far too bitty and the wheel well angles are simply an exercise in trying too hard. Inside, the shifter and drive mode setup lookk hopelessly complicated and unnecessarily phallic. Well, I guess that helps make the Urus a proper Lamborghini.
That’s my shortlist. What vehicles—from the past or present—do you find either proportional ugly or unattractive due to the unfortunate details?