The aesthetics of cars are obviously intensely subjective. What I think looks great may turn your stomach. I remember being very impressed by the looks of the Allegro when it first came out (I was only five). I also liked – and still quite like- the whale-shark looks of the original Fiat Multipla, which regularly appears on ‘ugliest cars ever’ lists.
However I’d like to focus on two cars which are -shall we say- very, very hard to defend from an image point of view, and examine why they are so bloody awful.
We’re going to start with The Toyota Corolla E110, sold in the uk between about 1995 and 2003. This thing.
I think we can agree that the looks are unconventional. But as this is my blog I’m going to say it’s fucking horrible. But hey, lots of ghastly cars have rolled off production lines through the years. What’s interesting about this one is the way the advertising tried to convince us that it was actually gorgeous.
The second car, bang up to date and a long way off in cost terms, is the Bentley Bentayga. Ignore, if you can, the stupid name. Just look at it. If you can.
This car isn’t merely ugly. This car fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Then landed on a trampoline which catapulted it back up into the ugly tree, hitting every branch again on the way up. Then gravity took over and it fell down again, colliding with every branch a third time. Then it landed in a box of frogs who immediately threw it out for spoiling their image.
It’s ugly, is what I’m saying.
And yet some people take it further:
For all the abject hideousness of the front end, the rear is just depressingly dull. I suspect the designer realised what he’d done and committed suicide, leaving his apprentice to finish the job and thereby save the company by collecting the fee. Either that or he knew the board would be so stunned by the front that he could stick any old crap on the back with no real problems.
About the only nice thing one can say about it is that it’s nicer than the concept.
Sort of how a broken arm is nicer than a broken leg. I.E. still bloody awful.
Now, the Bentayga is a properly expensive car. It starts at well over £100,000 and the model tested on The Grand Tour cost around a quarter of a million – as much as a four-bedroom house. It was pointed out on the show that the Jaguar F-Pace being tested alongside the Bentley cost less than the options fitted to the latter.
So why is it so horrid? I have a theory.
Humans are social animals. So we want other people to like us. So whenever we can, we buy cars to impress others in one way or another. In the case of the Bentayga this works in reverse. It says “I am so rich that I have bought this repulsive car to show you that don’t give a toss whether you like me or not, because I don’t have to. ”
Does that make it the ultimate road-going status symbol?