worst of 2008

I’m a little late posting this one, I’ve been busy, but here’s a guide to some of the crimes commited in car design during 2008. I’m not including tuners/kit cars/student projects in this as their designers are not professionals, but some small scale manufactuers are fair game in that there is really no excuse for not getting something designed properly! Firstly there are some surprise candidates last year, such as the new Ford Ka. Which basically looks almost identical to an Opel Corsa, and is terrible in context of the radical and timeless style of the fantastic mk1 Ford Ka. Some major manufacturers unleashed some mediocre designs- Renault dissapointed with their bland Laguna, but that is nothing compared to their terrible Safrane. The good news is you won’t see one unless you live in Dubai as it’s a Persian market special- with a strange birth. Basically a re-badged Samsung (yeah, they make cars too) SM5, itself based on the old Nissan Maxima- woeful from Renault.

Another example of spectacularly un-french design comes from the seemingly lost Peugeot design team. It would be nice to think that the incredibly ugly, and forced family look of the 3008 will be the last we see from Gerald Welter’s rather tired legacy. Or more worryingly, perhaps it is the start of design life without the old grumpy fella?!

Something I will unfortunately be seeing a lot of here in Finland (Toyota is the number 1 selling brand here) is the latest Toyota Avensis. This car is just odd, there is something strange in its underwheeled (as usual, but now just at the rear!), and top heavy proportions and balance. The rear looks like somebody braked too late pulling up behind. Also, what on earth is going on with those now industry standard door pull-handles, that are also recessed around their perimeter?!

Possibly the most surprising brand to be listed here- although not when you consider their only other attempts at producing something more than the same design for 50 years- is Porsche. Yes, the Panamera has to be listed here. It is of course a supremely professional design, expertly detailed, with perfect fit and finish (like the Cayenne), but it is also an oddly proportioned ill-fitting mish-mash of 2 entirely different genres of car (like the Cayenne). A 911 is a sports car, a Maserati Quattroporte is a saloon- weld the two together and you do not have a beautiful design. The only thing going for it, is that the other cynical marketing trick that Porsche produce (that Cayenne again)- is much uglier. I guess that could be considered a success? It has grown on me- unlike, yes that Cayenne again, which is a contender for ugliest car this century.

Lastly, a car seemingly related in style to Porsche’s 50 year re-hash philosophy, the PGO Hemera! The what? Well, the PGO is a French made car- that seems to ape the very first Porsche, the 356. It’s added twist is to ruin the proportions by being much narrower, then add in very poorly fitting body panels, and finally to complete that look by randomly choosing modern cues such as black windscreen surround and alfa rear lights- with large amounts of misplaced tacky chrome. Interesting attempt, but definitely a FAIL.

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