- An example of a good design in the form of the BMW E34 M5 estate

Dear car designers, get your act together

Stop being so fussy with your designs and bring it back to subtlety and quietly demonstrating one’s potential, please

6w ago

I am ashamed and a little annoyed that it has come to this but I feel as though it is time I said my bit on why car design nowadays is shocking, for the most part. This first started to annoy me when I saw the design for the Bentley Bentayga back in 2016, but now that doesn't actually look half bad when put up against some of the absolute trash that is being produced by mainstream carmakers at the moment.

It would be incredibly difficult to write an article such as this one and not include anything about BMW's design team, so here it goes. I used to love the way BMWs looked. Looking back on cars such as the E34 M5 Touring is a great pastime for many car lovers but subtlety isn't the 'done thing' anymore and for some reason, we need to have incredibly sharp and brashly designed cars.

Look at the snout on that... and that's not even the worst part

Look at the snout on that... and that's not even the worst part

The new XM Concept for example which I have slated in the past is a perfect display of everything wrong with the car industry at the moment. Who in their right mind is going to draw that, step back and admire it? Hopefully, no one but someone clearly did.

It is as if BMW looked at the work of the controversial designer Chris Bangle when he saved the company in the early 2000s and thought they could do the same now, but they haven't. In fact, they have ruined their reputation for so many people who used to love the way a Beemer looked.

What car makers need to start doing is looking at older designs and working with them. I don't mean copying designs of old like Lamborghini sort of did with the new Countach, but more taking elements from the 70s and 80s car design. The major thing missing from car design today is quietly demonstrating one's potential. A perfect example of this is the Mercedes-Benz 500E. This is a car that is so much more capable than it lets off to be and only those in the know are aware of what it can do on a stretch of tarmac.

These are the sorts of cars we need. One would hope BMW would see to this with its upcoming M3 Touring, but if they follow the same design language they have been for a few years, then there's no hope.

Examples of companies who are doing it right are Nissan and Hyundai. The concepts Nissan launched the other week are truly spectacular and showcase that sharp lines and jagged edges aren't always the answer to our problems. Latterly, Hyundai has stunned the world with its Grandeur concept – a saloon car encompassing 80s design with a modern twist.

Once carmakers around the world realise we need to go back to a more minimalist design – and they will – then all will be well. And this is due to happen sooner than we may think, especially with the recent release of the new Range Rover that proves minimalistic design for everyday cars works better than the cack its German rival is producing.

Something designers could be doing is something like this:

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Comments (70)

  • Example of doing it right.

      1 month ago
    • American muscle does seem to know how to get it right.

        1 month ago
    • I mean... this is like some non car person saying all cars look the same. The proportions of a good two door front engine powerful car will always be the same. Execution is very different in their styling...

        1 month ago
    • 1 month ago
  • Much agreed; the one reason why I love the Audi S8 is because of its sheer sense of subtlety! That's a great example of nailed modern design that whilst it's fresh, also nods back to the simple lines of the past. Manufacturers need to take note of that. A Jag F-Type is another great example.

      1 month ago
    • I 100% agree. The new RS6 is okay but is getting rather fussy now. We may sound old fashioned but car design has certainly taken a strange turn in the last decade.

        1 month ago
    • Audi used to be subtle, the C3 100 still looks good. All went a bit wrong when the big grilles came along...

        1 month ago
  • The grill is the new tail fin.

      1 month ago
    • Lexus even admitted the LS400 didn't really need a grille but it was there to add prestige. Infiniti thought otherwise and the rest is history.

        1 month ago
  • i wish designers would stop copying what the Germans are doing. I started noticing it with the naming schemes more than 10 years ago.

    Ze Germans started naming their cars a combination of numbers/letters instead of names. Other manufacturers followed.

    Ze Germans continued to integrate corporate design language on every vehicle such that you would recognize it as that brand regardless of the model. Other manufacturers followed.

    Ze Germans started combining soft curves with hard edges, dubbed "flame surfacing" by Chris Bangle. Other manufacturers followed.

    Ze Germans started integrating massive grilles into their cars. Other manufacturers followed.

    Ze Germans started using over stylized headlights/taillights. Other manufacturers followed.

    Ze Germans make some great cars, but there are other options and paths to follow. Stop copying the Germans.

      1 month ago
    • About every design cue in Japanese cars is borrowed/copied, maybe not so much now but definitely pre-2010 and absolutely from the 70s.

        1 month ago
    • i specifically mentioned the last 10 years, but it really should be the last 20 years. I dont know about tail fins other than 50s Caddys and the Volvo P1800, both and this MB is also older than the time frame I am talking about.

        1 month ago