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!


kathleen said...

What about the Mercedes A class of autos? Compact, practical and soon in an electric version.

What's keeping Mercedes from shipping some of these beauties to our shores?

GBG said...

A friend in Germany has one of these. We took a road trip into Italy and the car performed very well with 4 adults on board, over mountain passes, etc. It would be great if they brought these over, and they should have brought them over badged as Chryslers when they had the chance. That way it would have filled a gap in the Chrysler line-up, and not diluted what Americans think of as the Mercedes brand.

but no one called to ask my opinion at the time. And now that aint gonna happen.

They are only building 100 EVs, so this program is just getting started. I think for your more immediate needs, if you cant find a conversion you like, go with a used hybrid in the mean time, and see what comes out in the next few years.