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What Is Happening to Car Design These Days?

It’s been a while that this feeling of unease is growing on me with most new cars. However, things reached a peak when BMW released a teaser of what we now know as the XM. That image reminded me of an Angry Birds character. Weirdly, it looked as if a pig from that game also got angry. And so did I. Car design definitely has lost its way. Big time.
BMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW Concept XMBMW XM is the perfect example of what is going on with car design these days. UnfortunatelyHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai BayonHyundai Bayon2022 Hyundai Creta N Line rendering by KDesign AG2022 Hyundai Creta N Line rendering by KDesign AG2022 Hyundai Creta N Line rendering by KDesign AG2022 Hyundai Creta N Line rendering by KDesign AG2022 Hyundai Creta N Line rendering by KDesign AG2022 Hyundai Creta N Line rendering by KDesign AG
The BMW Concept XM is just the more recent example of that, even if a very fitting one. Yes, I know car buyers have more options now than they have ever had. Yes, I know it is hard to create something unique with safety and aerodynamic requirements to follow. However, that does not mean car designers should just expect that a massive front grille or weird creases will make their projects stand out in a good way. Bold may be brave, but it is not beautiful. More often than not, that’s not the case.

Just check what Hyundai is doing with its new models. The 45 Concept was a beautiful tribute to the Pony apart from a bizarre lateral line going from the base of the A-pillar until the front edge of the rear wheel wells. As much as I tried to get that, I couldn’t. I still can’t. When the Ioniq 5 was presented, the first thing I looked for was that wrinkle. Disappointingly, it made it into production. Thankfully, it did not taint the design that much – but it was very close to doing so.

What about the new Elantra? That thing is hideous, even if it is a brilliant swan song for Albert Biermann’s work in the company. “Hideous” also fits the Bayon and the Creta (recently fixed –sort of). The Tucson managed to escape God knows how: it also has the weird folded metal on the sides, but it did not do as much damage there as it did in other cars from the brand.

There are plenty of examples that car design is close to being a lost art. Just think about naming a car designer now and in the 1980s. It was much easier back then: Marcello Gandini, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Walter de Silva, Battista (Pinin) Farina are just a few of these masters. Name one contemporary designer – apart from Ian Callum – that you can remember for fantastic design. See?

This plague has not started with car styling. It also affects architecture and arts in general. It seems we lost touch with what is truly beautiful and decided to praise stuff that is plain awful just to pretend we understand “visionary” artists.

I can never forget going to a Basquiat exhibition and asking what made a painting different from the other apart from the position of the scribbles. On the other hand, Van Gogh’s paintings immediately touched my heart. Modern hyperrealist artists always impress me with their skills and, sometimes, what they want to express.

It is no surprise that kids in some countries don’t give a damn about cars. I doubt they just gave up on driving, fell in love with public transportation, or that only computers and video games attract their attention. My guess is that ugly cars turned the automobile into a mere form of transportation that takes them from A to B.

On one side, these designs cannot create emotional connections apart from reproach. On the other, I believe these folks that say they have cars probably never had to do monthly shopping or take their kids to school on a rainy day (if they even have children).

The most monstrous vehicle would be preferable to most public transportation available worldwide, which is mainly crowded, uncomfortable, late, and inconvenient. The ones championing the few good examples as a solution for all transportation needs out there forget that they only work well thanks to strict city planning, but that’s another problem.

When it comes to car design, I long to see the professionals that love a good-looking product above anything else win over those that want to shock and make “bold” styling. Those that are not trying to reinvent the wheel should have a chance just to celebrate beauty as Gandini, Pininfarina, and Giugiaro once did. That’s not asking too much.

Kids should be entitled to have dream cars and massive posters with them on the walls again. They should be able to tell one vehicle from the other and have their favorites based solely on style. I’m sure I'm not alone when I say this: please bring back cars that inspire buyers to long for them. We’re angry to see what is on offer nowadays.

Editor's note: The gallery has images of the BMW Concept XM, Hyundai Bayon, and Creta (ix25), some examples of the car design that I think we would better change as soon as possible.

 
 
 
 
 

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