autoevolution
 

We're Obsessed With Strange Headlights!

Bulbous, tapered, squinting and just downright strange – we're very much obsessed with having strange headlights at the front our cars. It's gotten to the point where enough is enough and something has to be done.
Headlights have a very important job to do, allowing us to see and be seen. Yet they play an even more important role from an esthetic point of view. If the grille is like a car's mouth, than the lights are its eyes, doors to the soul, and I don't know about you, but I don't think people with squinting eyes are good looking.

The doors, the windshield or the bonnet have remained pretty much the same in the last decade, but oh boy have I seen some strange eyes on the highway, the sort of stuff that belongs in a museum under a jar.

Simple styling usually means one of two things: either the design is clever or it's very boring. But the market doesn't seem to appreciate clean if it's no longer brand-new. This is why that little piece of glass and plastic is the first thing to be changed when mid-life facelifts occur. Problem is, with every generation we're moving closer to having headlights the size of a keyhole.

The LED technology that should have taken us into the next century of design has in some cases made things a lot worse. Take the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, widely criticized for looking like the ugly child of the family. It has a toxic concoction of Light Emitting Diodes, fog lights, indicators and high beams that combine to make it look like a person squinting after sucking on a really bitter lemon.

The reason for its "modern" design is that Chrysler's bosses wanted something that will not look dated three or four years from now. So basically, they're saying that by 2016 all our cars will look like they're in serious need of an eye exam.

With such ideas floating around my head, I suppose Porsche or MINI's lack of groundbreaking design changes is actually a good thing. Sometimes, too much change can do a lot more harm than no change at all.

I don't want to get all philosophical here, so I'll give you a relevant example. In 2007, Fiat launched the new 500 based on the classic 60s icon. With round headlights and diminutive proportions, they managed to create an instant smash sensation in the industry, which needed no facelift but still managed to sell well over a million units. Since that car is already 6 years old, a new one should be just around the corner, but if they lose those rounded candles at the front, they're going to be screwed!

When thinking of companies who specialize in strange headlights, names like Toyota, Jeep, Citroen, Nissan and even BMW or Cadillac come to mind. However, the undisputed champions are the Koreans at Kia.

Now a global brand, every car they make seem to pull the headlight's surface either towards the roof pillars, the wheel arches, the grille or the bumper. They've added bars, slashes, little grilles and eyelids and created every shape you can imagine. I'm not saying it looks bad, and I have a lot of respect for Peter Schreyer, but in his quest to get Kia noticed, he's made a few Frankensteinian creatures over the years. It's like good-ol' Petey knows a Kia doesn't really have a soul, that it's just another car brand for the not-so-rich, and wants to fool people into thinking the opposite...

So where does this leave us? I think strange is the new normal and normal is the new strange. Soon, our perceptions will flip like a well done pancakes and we'll be left with an inverted view of car design. Are you happy mister Schreyer? Because I'm certainly not, but I'd still buy your c-apostrophe-d. God, these strange headlights have me all confused!

 
 
 
 
 

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