Can a car be too stylish? At what point does it become ugly?

Is minimalism the new rarity in car design? With 1-litre city cars now having more aggressive styling than supercars from 30 years ago, it’s time to ask if we’ve taken things too far.

This one’s for the purists out there. For those that prefer sleek lines over jagged edges, look for function over form and look to many classics and reminisce about times where automotive design was a little less crazy.

There are a few examples of older cars that, arguably, look better than their contemporary counterparts. The first gen Audi R8 nailed the supercar aesthetic with rounded edges and a sleek and slippery-looking form whereas the current models are riddled with sharp corners, aerodynamic fins and splitters and enough vents to look like an air conditioning unit.

Modern examples of cars that have over the top styling are a dime a dozen. The new BMW M3 and M4, Hyundai i20N, Honda Civic Type R, any Audi RS car and so on. Even regular cars such as the Toyota Yaris are styled to look like they’re sports cars, with large front grilles and side vents, curvy fenders and rear bumpers with quasi rear diffusers.

Many manufacturers design front grilles and bumpers to be as janky and angular as possible, with the Urus, RS 6 and BMW M3 all having faces that look like they’re made to blend soups and smoothies.

Bonnets now often feature more grooves than ever, sometimes accompanied by a bonnet vent that doesn’t actually lead anywhere. More vents can often be found on the sides of cars too and they also often lead nowhere. Wheel arches are either protruding for no reason or accented with plastic that’s a different colour to the body, or even worse, unpainted! Spoilers are sometimes added even though they add no aerodynamic advantage and simply create more drag, making the car less fuel efficient. To the same effect, roof racks are built into the design of cars that will probably never be used to carry cargo on the roof.

It’s undeniable that there’s a demand for overstyled cars. Just look at Lamborghini – a marque that bases its whole business model on creating some of the most extreme looking supercars, which is ironic as the company is also responsible for making what could be referred to as one of the first supercars ever and showcased a truly elegant and tasteful design – the Miura.

On the other hand, though, cars that don’t go overboard on the styling are also very popular. Just look at Tesla, completely dominating not only the EV market but the auto market as a whole with their Model 3. As the best selling car in the UK, the Model 3 is minimalistic, clean and pure in its appearance.

Perhaps more minimalistic designs are making a come back, or perhaps overstyled cars will dominate in the future.

Let us know your thoughts, in the comments.

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One Response

  1. Vince Orchiston

    Each to there own I guess…me personally I can’t see past the simple flowing lines of the Jaguar F-Type (pre-facelift model)…no over the top garish swoops , cut outs or origami style bodywork lines just pure and simple sports car design…the Jaguar F-Type has no bad angles… front, side, rear… or even from above not one single bad angle…now that’s car design in it’s purest form.
    Another favourite of mine is the U.S.A’s simple three box design muscle car the Dodge Charger …again no over the top lines but manages to convey an almost sinister brutality to it’s form in it’s very simple design…one of my favourite American muscle cars .
    Two cars with one simple design ethos …less is more.

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