RICE’d from the factory, car manufacturers love these styling features that have no function…
When you look back at cars throughout history, you may notice a particular style of car belonging to each different era. In the 50s you may think of colourful lowrider cars with large tail fins, the 60s and 70s may remind you of devilishly handsome mustang-esque muscle cars.
However, today’s modern cars may just be remembered for having cheap plastic stick-on parts that are meant to look cool. Let’s discuss some of today’s car “styling features” that offer style without function.
Large exhaust tips to hide tiny exhaust tips
No, this is not a euphemism for overcompensation. This is a prime example of style without function. Due to small “pea shooter” exhaust tips not looking particularly cool or stylish, manufacturers like to conceal them with larger, fake exhaust tips.
Some good examples are the Honda Civic’s with triangle exhausts, the majority of Mercedes-Benz models, BMW’s, Audi’s, Range Rover’s, Peugeot’s….the list goes on.
It seems like half the cars on the road have this styling feature and sometimes it can look ridiculously obvious. Sure it’s more aesthetically pleasing than an unpolished pinhole exhaust tip, but it must look pretty silly on a cold day when the fumes from the real down swept exhaust aren’t coming out of the fake exhaust tip.
Faux side vents
The king of fake styling, spotted on virtually all of today’s modern cars, fake air vents! Usually found on the front bumper, side of the car or the rear, these fake air vents are just pieces of plastic that lead nowhere, therefore offering no sort of airflow optimisation or engine cooling whatsoever. In fact, if anything, the only thing that they’re good for is creating more drag.
Fake vents aren’t just strictly exclusive to reasonably-priced cars like the Vauxhall Corsa, Mini Cooper and Ford Fiesta, they can also be seen on some more expensive cars. This includes the CLS63 AMG, McLaren 650S, Audi S4, BMW X5, Teslas, Nissan GT-R, Toyota GT86 and so on.
Rear diffusers that don’t diffuse
It’s an aerodynamic technology often used on sports cars, supercars and race cars, therefore not meant for an Audi SQ5. Rear diffusers allow for the air underneath the car to exit smoothly and quickly out of the back in an upwards direction, therefore reducing drag and generating downforce. However, for this to be an effective feature, the car should be quite low to the ground and have a flat underbody, otherwise there’s not really much point.
Hence why a rear diffuser on a Range Rover Evoque, Abarth 500, Clio RS or Suzuki Swift Sport is 100% style, 0% function. If the car doesn’t have a flat underbody, it’s too high off the ground or it’s simply not fast enough then the rear diffuser might as well not be there. Leave them to the Ferraris.
Fake bonnet scoops
Very similar to the air vents, “faux” bonnet scoops are quite popular styling features found on many sporty-ish cars. Just like the fake air vents, these hood scoops don’t actually allow air to pass through them, making them completely useless at improving airflow.
Found on sporty models of the Mini Cooper, old Mustangs, on the Mazdaspeed 3, and on a few others. If you see a black bit of plastic at the back of a hood scoop, you know that the scoop itself is completely useless in terms of cooling the engine (which is kind of the whole point of them) and is only there to “look cool”.
Gear knobs in automatic cars
Nowadays, modern automatic cars handle their gear shifting electronically through the car’s computer. This means that there’s no longer any need to have a big bulbous gear knob, instead we could be using sleek turn dials, wheel-mounted shifters or even buttons.
Despite this, manufacturers continue to produce mock gear knobs that make it feel like you’re actually mechanically changing gear, when really, all you’re doing is telling the computer to change gear for you. It may give you that “integrated” feeling with the car, but at the end of the day, it’s only there because it feels nice. We’re not saying these styling features look bad, we’re just saying that even when they look like they’re functional, they may not be.
Let us know your opinion on the matter!