As I read through the “What is BMW doing?” thread, and the other frequent flame wars over new car designs, it seems like we all hate everything new, and pine for older generations of cars. Surely, there’s something out there that’s being done right? Right? In that vein, I’ve decided to propose this topic:
What cars DO you all like today? And I do want to limit this to “today’s” cars.
Give your answer to these questions:
What Car/Truck/SUV/Van (2019 model year or “newer”) impresses you most, design-wise right now?
If you had the means (or have the means right now) which would you buy, and why?
There is no wrong answer. Someone may say they love the Nissan Juke convertible, after all. Post up what you love and why.
Looking forward to the discussion!
Mazda as a family honed design language. The Miata, the 3, the 6, the CX3, CX5 & CX9. This year, the family redo was finally complete and I think it’s the best looking family of cars available.
The primary language drivers are well defined and consistently used but not copies & pasted (think old BMWs - is that a 3 series or a 5 series or a 7 series??) and make their cars look more expensive than they are (and the interiors, both in design and materials are top notch).
The wife needs a new car (our daughter turned 16, grabbed the keys to her Prius and we’ve barely seen her since). So we drove new Toyotas, new Hondas, new BMWs and new Mazdas - Beforehand, I’d told her she would think a Mazda was equal in refinement to a BMW. After driving one she agreed. She liked the 3 over a CX5, but the 3 is pretty darn small.
Also, although I drive the last BMW X5 with a stick - and still love it, I would grab a Honda Element for the boxy fun look. Realistically though, I’ll toss the X5 aside the second I find just the right Caddy CTSv wagon with a stick, Recaros & panoramic sunroof in anything but black or white ('11-'14). The prices are finally starting to come down!
Great question. For me it comes down to a combination of deign, price, reliability and features. With Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis topping the reliability rankings, I have been recommending them more. Here are the new cars I have been recommending to people:
Full size SUV:
Porsche Cayenne or Macan
Mid size SUV:
Hyundai Sante Fe
Small Sports Sedan:
Premium sports car:
Porsche 718 Cayman
Mazda MX5 Miata
VW Golf GTI
VW Golf R
Hyundai Veloster N
I always liked Mercedes for the past 4 or 5 years with their current design language, but after the new Volvo’s came out I think those are my current favorites. It is a huge upgrade from their last models and the interior design is really quite elegant. On top of that, their subscription price model is completely different (I think), I wouldn’t utilize that if I were to buy one, but it does make their cars a tad more accessible.
I just bought a Model 3 dual motor back in December, and it’s been great so far. The exterior styling/ proportions threw me off initially, but I’m growing to love it. The more I experience it, the more I enjoy it. The driver’s position is perfect for a daily driver. I also love how minimal the interior is. Though I do find myself wishing that there were a few (maybe programmable) physical buttons on the dash for certain things. Overall though, it feels like it’s exactly what it should’ve been.
If we’re talking pure design then I’d say Volvo is pretty killer at the moment. Really excited to see Polestars on the road. I think the new 911 is really well done as well. Curious what everyone’s feeling on Jaguar as a whole. I love where Ian Callum took the brand. The F-type always catches my eye, and the xf shooting brake is super tempting.
Jaguar is a tough one. I just don’t see a compelling reason to buy any of their products. The F Type is pretty nice, but for the same money you could get a Cayman (better handling and better made) or a used Aston Martin V8 Vantage (better design and more prestigious brand). The sedans are largely also rans in my opinion. Nice, but remove the badges and I don’t feel there is a lot that makes them a Jaguar. And with the iPace I feel like there will be so many better competitors in 12 months.
New 911, super nice, but so large! Again I go back to the Cayman which is basically the size of an old 911 but with the engine in a place that actually makes sense for driving dynamics
Polestar… so friggin nice. I was so bummed I got an invite to their launch party in SoCal but it was a week after I moved to Portland. I would have loved to have checked it out in person.
The Volvo XC40, if the electric version ever comes to the US, damn would want!
I like the design inside out, proportions, aesthetic, interior trim all reads like a beautifully designed product. The material break features are pleasing without trying too hard.I like the size of the car where it’s definitely compact but with the amenities you’d expect from a SUV. The EV version is probably more expensive but the car starts at $33k which imo is pretty amazing value. Would definitely be a car I’d look at if I was switching up/had means.
I test drove the latest XC90/X3/CX-9 in my last round of family decision making and wound up going with the CX-9. The design, interior quality, and overall handling was just way too good of a value - especially as a lease. BMW’s used to lease much better than they do, I just couldn’t justify 2X the cost for the loud backfiring exhaust hilarity that the X3 provided.
I agree they’re doing some of the best rounded cars available right now. My mom wanted a new Camry to replace her 10 year old one, I had her test drive the Sonata (she hated) and then the Mazda 6 and she loved it. My wife didn’t like the old CX5 she drove but I think that’s because the standard 4-banger is pretty gutless and she got used to a V6 or turbo.
Overall I think Volvo, Mercedes, and Mazda are winning right now in terms of brand cohesiveness.
I’ve been searching for a new car lately and its been to say the least, VERY difficult. First, has anyone noticed prices lately? They’re insane! I have been most impressed with design and reading reviews about quality for Hyundai, Kia, and Mazda, not to mention Hyundai/Kia has an amazing warranty, I almost bought a Kia Rio hatch because they look awesome, are dirt cheap new, and have everything you need and nothing you dont (could use a little more HP though). In the end I have decided on pursuing the newest gen Mazda 3. Mazda has blown me away with their new strategy of slow growth to keep quality up, and their Kodo design language. The newest gen Kodo vehicles are beautiful in person, and the interiors and fit and finish rivals that of much more expensive vehicles. Mazda is also one of the only makers that really talks and focuses on the driving experience, which it feels alot of makers are trying to remove.
I think that is a good choice. Also, I almost always buy cars used. Basically they take a huge depreciation hit right off the lot, so if I can find something in good condition used, I usually go for that. Bought my 2001 TT used in 2005 and I still have it, so that one worked out
I’ve long made the decision that I’ll never buy a new car unless someone else is paying (corporate lease or something).
Mike- I’m right there with you on that E63 wagon… of any of the Merc’s that’s easily my all time fave. Stops me in my tracks when I see one. There’s one that floats around my town in that red color, too. Guy has a custom plate that just says E63, too…
Lots of love for the Mazda, huh? Interesting. I had a first gen 3 5-door that I liked (first and last new car I’ve ever bought), but sold it to go car-free for a year. A friend of mine has a CX-5 that does seem nice. Just haven’t ever gotten used to the big “snout” on the newer CX’s…
I went through this all recently when the pregnant wife wanted a “practical car” (as if a 1998 740iL isn’t practical?..I got that as she wanted something with airbags/cup holders and the 1987 535i and 1971 Benz didn’t fit the bill).
We looked at a lot and I really was trying to find something that made me excited. It was very hard. She is NOT a car person.
I’ve also pretty much always bought used, but leasing can make sense for me as a consultant and the wife was really concerned about needing to take the car into servicing (my older cars have been good, but of course sometimes it’s in the shop).
Top of the list (for this scenario, not considering what I like (Porsche 911, etc.) for other uses-
Range Rover (full size. Hate the stupid vents and stuff on the Sport).
Range Rover Velar. Every time I see I can’t stop looking. So clean and futuristic but refined.
…I’ve never driven an SUV and the size was a bit much for our needs.
Tesla Model 3. Have yet to do the test drive or check out at length the interior quality everyone complains about, but love the look and the minimal interior is what I wish more cars had. Didn’t make sense at the price point as it’s finance only here, and there’s no long term costs yet for repairs (if Tesla is still in business in 5 years).
Volvo. V90/V90 CC/XC90. Ended up getting the V90 T6 R-Design. Quite like it. Exterior is pretty much perfect. Still catches my eye every time I see a Volvo on the road…Interior has just a few design lines I wish were more straight and refined in the center console. Screen UI not perfect but good. Design-wise, it really was a WOW factor for us both when we first checked it out, especially the interior. On the daily, fun to drive, good quality in fit and finish. I grew up on Volvos. At this point though don’t know if I LOVE it enough to buy back off lease in 3 years (though they aren’t making any more V90 wagons so maybe will have good value as the last gen of these). XC90 was exactly the same size/engine/cargo space etc. but just felt not as sporty in SUV form.
Audi. Didn’t get too far into looking at them as the offers weren’t very competitive, but the Wagons are nice (new RS6 Avant esp!), though the other cars (aside from the S7- dream car!), are a bit whatever.
Porsche Macan. Like the design, heard it was not so great of an actual driver. Didn’t get around to test driving or checking out the interior.
Keeping the thread on track, I won’t get into all the new cars that I hate. List is too long.
I’ve held off on this thread because I realized I don’t really know what’s available well enough to give a good response. However, I have to say that I agree on Mazda design-wise. I think the last gen Mazda 6 was the first car to have that Alfa Romeo-esque “wow!” factor, Japanese build quality and a touch of grace about it in a long time. The new 3 has stepped it up another notch and I can’t wait to see the new 6. Even more impressive is that they have successfully transferred that spirit through the entire line. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch, but each one is a unique design. Very impressive!
I’m surprised the Range Rover Velar didn’t come up earlier. I absolutely hate SUVs, but that thing makes me stop each time. Unbelievable presence with a bit of concept car in the proportions and details.
I wanted to jump on the Volvo band wagon, but something is holding me back. I think they get the big things right, but some of the details are fussy. I’m looking at a V60 right now. Overall form, proporition, the front end…spot on. Around the back? It looks like a junior Geely designer tried to graft some Audi lights on it, but did a poor job. What are those things?
Haven’t been in a Mazda in some time, but agree on the exterior styling and brand consistency. More BMW than BMW, IMHO.
Not sure what you mean about the V60 rear lights, Ray. I quite like the rear and almost the same on the V90 as V60. One of the only reasons I wanted the V90 over the V60 was the side view body line above the rear tire was kinda too curvy for my on the V60 and kinda bothered me where the V90 was more lean and straight and sleek. Well that and you can never have too much cargo space with a kid I think, right?
I could go for a Volvo but perhaps we just have to get over ourselves and embrace a ‘new normal’ where brand equity rules- BMW rocks big snarling kidney grilles and the Mercedes star now comes at you at the size of a dinner plate. Perhaps accept that the craft of automotive design is now slave to bigger global corporate agendas and bling.
It seems that brand pimping and focus group imperatives have encroached on what we understand by ‘good design’. The authenticity of classic late 20th century cars where designers, manufacturers and national idiosyncrasies drove individuality and style are a thing of the past. Now it’s world where pastiche design, shared design cues, and surfacing references have diluted design in deference to brand. The current Mini is a design travesty and a mockery of its roots, but sells by the boat-load.
The new Land Rover defender “An Icon Reimagined” by TATA (and manufactured in Slovenia) doesn’t share a single chromosome with the original designed by engineer Maurice Wilks in 1948 but almost pulls off pastiche to look forwards at looking backwards, but I’m not about to shell out for even the base model any time soon…
I think it’s a gestalt thing. The front is a squircle grille, two rectangular lights. The glass outlines are soft trapezoids. Everything is kinda rounded 4 sided polygons. Then the tail lights have sharp corners and zig zag back and forth. Same on the sedan btw. It makes me feel attacked after the gentle-ness of the rest of the design.
RE Volvo, It took me a little bit to get used this particular part on the back end, but I’m over it. Compared to everything else in the segment it is so noice overall that the relative fussiness in this one panel doesn’t hurt the overall for me. It would be easy to minimize the kinks and bends in the outline of this one part in photoshop to really make the back end calm down, but maybe they wanted a little complexity in the parting visual?