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Good Styling

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  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    If you think about it, you probably look at the back end of cars more than the front end, or even the side view. In traffic, you cannot be staring in your rear- view mirror to admire the cars behind you. If there is any car in front of you, that is what you will be paying the most attention to for the duration of your drive.

    I have always thought that the back ends of cars tend to be overlooked by stylists. You get great looking distinctive front ends, good 3/4 front views and side views, but the back of many cars tend to look like they were just whatever the designer could do with the side view.

    Ironically, over the last 10 - 20 years, more or less, I think that one company that did exceptionally well designing good looking and functional back-ends was Pontiac. The second series Cavaliers was a good example. The shape of the rear "light-bar" had the extra descending "tab" section that identified it. Also, the spoiler located at the base of the rear window instead of the end of the trunk worked visually very well. I do not know how it worked aerodynamically, but that is another matter.

    Nobody really liked the back end of the Aztek. That was the biggest exception to their record. But the last Vibe looked really good in the back.

    I always liked the look of the Porsche 924 from the back.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,011
    I guess it's fun to look at your car in the garage or when passing a plate glass window, but mostly you see the dash and interior when driving around.

    If your mirrors are set up right, you don't even see the side of your car driving around. Maybe you can admire your hood and A pillars.

    The way some cars cramp the cockpit area so that your knees bump the door and console, it makes me think styling took precedence over fit and function. And that's not good.

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  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    "[T]he dash and the interior"

    I have been thinking about this, and I am not even sure if I remember the interiors of all the cars I have driven. I can remember some details of the very earliest cars vividly, but a some other details are lost. Some of the cars "came and went" leaving little to remember at all.

    In part, I think I have to disagree with you. If you are driving, you really do not have time to be looking at your interior. If you do that, you are just about in your next accident. Mostly, I expect we sort of drive by braille, and memory, and maybe some guesswork thrown in.

    Having said that, let me get critical about a couple of aspects of interior design and controls. I was going to post these ideas in something else I was writing, but it is not that important to me.

    First, I have been muttering for the last 10 years that the car manufacturers are lagged far behind in integrating technologies into interiors. 10 years ago I was telling people that cell phones should be integrated into the driving controls. We are now getting Bluetooth on the radios.

    What we should have had was a standard mount point in the car to "jack" a phone or other devices into. I would suggest something like a flat tray recessed into the top of the dashboard, maybe 5 inches wide by 5 inches deep with a standard locking mount. It could be covered by a removable piece of material for people who do not want to use it. There would be standard connectors available, and optional standardized wiring setups depending on the devices used and current common technologies.

    I thought the "Heads-Up-Displays" were a good idea. I think LASERs pointed at the windscreen could still be used in this way.

    I will also add that my new car has a lighter gray interior. Sadly, any light colour interiors are a bad idea. Actually, anything that draws attention to your interior in any way is a bad idea. It becomes a magnet for "smash and grab" criminals.

    So what you want is a dull, drab, dark, but comfortable and well laid out interior. Uh, gee. Sounds "wonderful."
    :-)
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    First, an explanation of how I got to this posting:

    A while back I was thinking about brands of cars that had gone recently and which cars and styles I would miss. That got me thinking about the Pontiacs, which in turn got me to thinking about back end styling. As I said before, in recent years, Pontiac seemed to do some of the best back ends. I would guess that their stylists simply thought more thoroughly about a total car. Or maybe they were rebelling about having to maintain the front end split grill look. I have no real idea. I never talked to anyone there about it.

    Honda Accord: Anyway, driving recently I was looking at the back end of a new Accord, and thinking about how it had a nice backend style. It occurred to me that really, except for the grill I had grown to like the overall style. I still find the grill in-elegant due to too many (unnecessary) angles. Not only that, but I like it equally in both the 2-dr and 4-dr versions.

    Hyundai Elantra: When I saw the first pictures of this care I was not sure if I would like this style. My first impressions of the actual car were not negative, but it did take a while for me to decide. Since then it has grown on me, and I can say that I actually like it now. The crease in the side does not photograph well, but it is quite nice when you get used to it.

    Acura (overall): Mostly, I like the Acura family styling, except for the big chrome chevron/shield grill pieces. I am still trying to decide if I will ever actually like that.

    Ford Focus and Mazda 3: The first time I saw the new Mazda 3 style, I had a feeling of "oh no, why did they do that?" After this long, I think I can safely say that I am never going to like it. On the other hand, the new Ford Focus is very nice in both the 2-dr and 4-dr versions. I am not really enthusiastic about the chrome grill, but it is not as bad as on the Fusion. I have heard that Ford recently sold shares in Mazda. This pair of styling changes may have had a hand in that.

    Chevrolet Camaro: Some people loved this style when it was first shown, and now some of those people are saying they got tired of it. I was among those who thought it was too "cartoony". At this point I would say, yes, I like it, but no, I would not buy one. But if someone gave one to me, I would not be embarrassed to drive it. To put this in perspective, if someone gave me a Calibre, I would not even drive it. I would sell it, or even give it away.

    Chevrolet Cobalt: I am not going to say much about the sedan. The roof did not really look like it belonged on that car. The Coupe, on the other hand, I have mentioned before as a Chevrolet version of the recently passed versions of Honda Civic Coupe, except for the "Corvette-ish" back end. I think I forgot to say that I liked it. It was not the most wonderful style on the road, but I always did like it. As far as I know, 2010 is the first time they have sold a version of the Coupe without the wing on the trunk. My XFE does not have a wing. I like it that way. It re-proportions the car a bit and cleans up the style. From a practical point, I have never liked wings on street vehicles. The car wash cannot get under the wing. You end up having to finish the job by hand. From a pure styling point, I wish they had changed the front bumper cap, maybe after the first couple of years. The "SS" is nice, but the LS/LT bumper cap is a bit too plain.

    Chevrolet Optra: I can almost hear some of you guys south of the 49th saying "whaaaat?" Yes there was such a car, and it is one of the cars that disappeared recently even from Canada. I never really got to know much about these cars. They were Korean, and they were in the same size and price range as the Cobalt, so they never really had a chance to sell well, even in Canada. But the styling was very nice. It was sort of "a Cobalt done right". Mechanically they might not have been so good. I do not know. But they had a really nice looking 5-dr Hatchback, and a 4-dr + trunk sedan version looked very nice compared to the Cobalt sedan. And they even had a station wagon version beyond the 5-dr.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    Thanks for mentioning the Optra. I had never heard of it.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    I think the Optra came to us in the States as the Suzuki Forenza...
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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    Based on that picture I agree with the assessment of the Optra as a Cobalt done right.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    I think the Optra came to us in the States as the Suzuki Forenza..

    ...and the 5 door version was the Suzuki Reno.

    All of which are Daewoo based ... in the UK, it was known as the Chevrolet Lacetti ("Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" for TopGear).
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    The Suzukis drive me crazy. They are pretty decent looking vehicles for what they are but I wouldn't be driving one, thanks.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    Well, they're not really Suzukis, anyway. The new Kizashi's getting great reviews, and the long term test is also really positive:
    Inside Line likes the Kizashi
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    I agree that you get used to stuff over time. However, I think a lot of current styling is a bit overwrought, maybe influenced by video gaming or something. The exteriors and interiors seem exaggerated. Maybe it goes with the big tire trend right now. Stuff tends to go in trends in the US, so I expect more conservative or classic lines will be around in a few years.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    "I agree that you get used to stuff over time."

    Getting back to what I was saying back then, it is not just a matter of getting used to styles, but that styles do not exist in a vacuum. In some cases a car looks just fine in another context. Think of the M-B that Chris Plummer drives in "The Sound of Music". If you have a nice example of one, you can take it to almost any auto show and it will draw a crowd -- yes, I think it would even go down well at a "Tuner club show".

    On the other hand, I mentioned that the new Challenger can look too big if you are sitting at a stoplight surrounded with Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris or Mazda 2. On the other hand, it looks a lot better when surrounded by minivans.

    Context has a lot of sub-issues. For example, some cars look better in real life than in pictures. I was not impressed by the Chevy Cruze when I saw the first pictures, but having seen it in the real world, I think it was quite a nice looking car.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,675
    image

    If Sarah Palin would know what kind of car this is if she saw it tooling down the street in Anchorage or...Ketchikan...or Juneau, Alaska...somewhere. What kind of car is this Sarah?

    Do ya know? Huh?

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    I was not impressed by the Chevy Cruze when I saw the first pictures, but having seen it in the real world, I think it was quite a nice looking car.

    Strongly agree. BUT, magazine reviewers don't give good marks to the Cruze engine.

    Too many cars in last few years get awful front-end, grille styling. Reminds one of some bottom feeder fish with big gaping mouths.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,141
    magazine reviewers don't give good marks to the Cruze engine

    I think one of GM's top priorities should be improving its 4 cyl drive trains. Different 4 cyl GM rentals I've had seem to lack a lot from many of their competitors 4cyl vehicles. Ford was lucky to develop and improve their 4 banger with Mazda, but you'd think GM could work with Opel on this? I think this is really a weak spot in an improving GM product portfolio.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    On Cruze engine.

    GM should just give up and try to get some kind of licensing/manufacturing agreement for their 4 cyl engines. The GM cars using these could have a logo on trunk lid, "Honda Power".

    Honda has been exclusive supplier to Indycar racing series for about the last 5 years. These engines have been bullit-proof.

    On styling, Honda really goofed up their new gen Civic. Last one was tasteful, a little on the edge. New gen is, well, generic.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    edited May 2012
    There have been so many changes in the last five years. The biggest changes were that Ford and Hyundai found excellent design staffs, and Mazda -- well something went wrong there. Maybe it was in the water supply. Their latest mistake was the Mazda 5.

    Looking back at message 442 about the new GM 4 cylinder engines (nice number by the way ...), it is a bit late for me to make this comment but I would have suggested that "xrunner2" look over at one of the "GM" topics. The first of the new aluminum 4's that showed up around 2003 in the Cavalier was designed by Lotus. There is nothing wrong with the basic design of the engine. It is just that GM has done a cheap tuning job (cheap parts and assembly, so no VVT, though they did have balancing shafts right from the start) and aimed it towards economy. I have had 2 cars with these 4s, and I can say it seems to be quite reliable. And of course it is so very nice to have an aluminum block in Canada where it helps the heater to come up quickly.

    But enough of that. Back to styling:

    I hope Japan gets over the "simple cube look" disease really soon.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,011
    Especially with sedans.

    "Designers have long struggled with fitting passengers comfortably into a car while maintaining the desired exterior shape. The riddle has become increasingly difficult to solve with the growing importance of aerodynamics in boosting a vehicle’s fuel economy. There isn’t much latitude if you are sculpting a car for minimum drag."

    Why Do Cars Look Alike? (Wall St. Journal)

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    No mentioning of the lack of imagination in design schools. Of course, it is WSJ, might be seen as anti-"capitalism" in some weird way. Small trim details don't have much to do with fuel economy or space efficiency.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,011
    Hm, the old '70s Volvo in my family was very comfy to sit in while broken down on the side of the road.

    Luxurious interiors are becoming a top factor in luring car and truck buyers while increasing profit margins for automakers.

    In fact, reliability takes a back seat to interior design among consumers, according to a recent J.D. Power & Associates survey, which found a greater percentage of consumers will buy an unreliable vehicle than one with an interior design they perceive as unattractive.

    Targeting car buyers from the inside (Detroit News)

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