Thursday, October 23, 2008

Design Theory 1: Small Is Where the Action Is

Look at the designs from any manufacturer, and I find that their smaller cars are better looking. And by that, I mean more fun, distinctive, and a pure expression of a design theme. And yes, I think fun is important. Cars should be fun. Fun can be serious too, as in serious fun, as in what is probably the best looking car ever: The entire BMW 6 series. Even the new ones with that funny business going on out back. But my real favorite:

Toyota - Yaris looks better than a Corolla, Camry or Matrix.
Honda - The Civic is a more pure, clean design than the overly busy Accord.
Chevy - The Malibu sure is better than the Impala. (sure the Aveo and Cobalt are dogs, but there has to be some exceptions)
Caddilac - Their relatively small CTS looks better than any of their other beasts.
MINI - The regular Cooper, over the Clubman any day. I can't even look at that SUV prototype.
Mazda - The getting long in the tooth 3 is still better looking than the new 6. The 7 over the 9.
Ford - Fusion has a more aggressive look than the 500, I mean Taurus. And again, look no further than previous posts to find me railing against the Focus.
Nissan - I even like looks of the much maligned Sentra over the overworked Altima and Maxima.
BMW - I am a sucker for the aforementioned 6 series, and the Z4 coupe. I like the 1-series hatch, but the 3, 5, and 7 series all look way overworked to me. 
Audi and VW - All of them look pretty bad in the past few years with that huge gaping grill. It looks equally bad on the big ones and the small ones. Although, I could come around for an A5. Nice looking car, grill and all.
Mercedes - I confess: I cant tell them apart. Between confusing letter number combos, and so many models, I gave up a long time ago. There are some nice looking 2 door hardtops out there though that are pretty slick. 
Volvo, Lexus, Infiniti - All better in their smaller models. Period.
And then there are companies who dont make any good looking cars, big or small. Chrysler, I am looking at you. You too Saab, Lincoln, and Suburu.

When setting out to design a smaller car, there isn't as much room to put in a lot of bad stuff. The resulting design is more pure, and when well done, can be more powerful. And more fun!