Illuminated grilles are back on the rise
But no one seems to be talking about this, so allow me to fill that gap in this article
Design trends no doubt spreads across the motor industry like wildfire. No matter if its from frameless windows to Laser LED headlights to interior touchscreens dominating the interior, once a manufacturer of whatever caliber introduces it, the rest will aimlessly follow like sheep, regardless.
And this logic can certainly be applied to illuminated grilles in the modern world.
First appearances of this design element were on a now-defunct British manufacturer Woseley in 1932, where they had offered illuminated badges on their cars ever since up until 1975 when the brand has ceased operations. And during that time period, other brands such as Chrysler and Mercury has too hopped on the trend for cars like the 300L and the Sable respectively, until their demise in the late 90s when both Mercury and Chrysler has gone to accept another, and rather conservative, design trend.
The Mercury Saber when it still had an illuminated badge
Times were quiet since then for the glowing grille. But then in 2013, Mercedes showed up, introducing a dealer-fitted illuminated star for their range. After getting so popular, Mercedes realised its potential, so just like any other firm run by people with even the slightest common sense, they have officially included the star as a factory optional extra on their cars from then on to now, and its probably not going anywhere in the future too seeing now other brands are also jumping on the train.
Since the modern revival of the illuminated grilles being reignited by Mercedes 7 years ago, many recent car launches have also included this grille design, and all seems to be crammed into the recent year. Notable ones include the Skoda Enyaq (a bit X6-ish), the Rolls-Royce Ghost, the BMW X6/5 Series, a lot of Mercedes models with model years 2013+, the Cadillac Lyriq Concept and the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept, and probably many more that has been missed out on this list. Take a look in the gallery below for yourself.
Spoiler alert: There's quite a few.
So, the history and associates dealt with, what's my opinion on this?
Personally, I don't like it. Normally I wouldn't mind a showy car that's done tastefully, even pushing to the likes of the excessive aero on the Honda Civic Type R or the chrome infestation on a Bentley Flying Spur, but to me, those are fine, and this isn't. Aside from the concepts from Cadillac and Jeep, these grilles looks like some cheap, tacky, failed DIY job a 5 year old that would do to a car, just fix a strip of LED bulbs onto a grille and call it a day. Just a low effort money-grabbing scheme done by firms.
Checking the price of the 'Iconic Glow' grille of the X6 on BMW's UK configurator, buyers would have to shell out £450 for the gaudy lightning. In comparison, other options that actually improves a car's looks (to me at least) whilst also being functional, such as privacy glass and roof rails, costs cheaper at £390 and £355 simultaneously, just ignoring the fact that both of those features should really come as standard on an SUV that expensive.
So there you have it, the history of the illuminated grilles, what recently-released cars are hopping onto the trend, and finally my opinions of it.
Definitely a solid contender to win the title of 'Marmite of motoring design' along with other controversial features like tablet touchscreens and digital buttons.
Hope you've enjoyed this article.
Until next time,
Thoughts on this? Comment below!