Taste may be subjective, but the further your eyes stray from the front bumper, the uglier these 10 cars will become.
I’ve written a lot about car design lately, and though I am by no means a designer, I do find it to be one of the more important aspects of a car’s overall appeal and something that is easy and enjoyable to discuss.
We can all agree that dual-clutch transmissions are incredibly fast, EVs have almost infinite performance potential if battery tech could keep up, and the A90 Toyota Supra needs a manual transmission, but it’s impossible for us car enthusiasts to agree on whether or not a car’s design works for us.
However, there are some designs that are so bad that we can come to a consensus on the matter and generally agree that they’re irredeemably bad, like the Pontiac Aztec or the 2019 Chevy Camaro facelift. This list won’t cover truly hideous cars, but we will take a look at some cars that look good from a front view but the design falls apart beyond the front wheels.
Third-Generation Subaru WRX/STI Sedan
Hold onto your flat-brim hats. I didn’t say the third-gen WRX /STI is a bad car, just that it’s an ugly one. From the front end, it looks bulky and purposeful – how you’d want a rally-inspired sports sedan to look, but from there backwards, the design sort of falls apart. The rear 3/4 view is particularly bad, with a squared-off trunk design and a strange roofline. The hatchback model is the one to buy if you’d prefer your Subaru to be easier on the eyes.
BMW E36 318ti Compact
Until recently, BMW has offered a compact, rear-wheel drive, 2-door hatchback in its lineup, though we didn’t always get them in North America. Overseas, you’d recognize this car’s descendants in the 1-series hatch. But by then, BMW figured out how to make the concept look good, something it didn’t take the time to do with the E36 generation of the 318ti Compact. The rear looks cut-off and shortened abruptly, yet the front-end proportions are the same as the longer-bodied sedan, making it look like a German AMC Gremlin. I can hear the angry mobs forming over that one already…
Ford Mustang Mach E
Speaking of angry mobs, may I present what has to be one of the most controversial cars in recent memory. I think the real problem with the Mach E is its name: people don’t necessarily reject electric performance, but they don’t want to see the Mustang name diluted by a crossover model, regardless of its powertrain. It doesn’t help that the Mach E’s design falls apart beyond the rather sharp-looking front end, tapering off in a generic “CUV coupe” shape with ugly plastic cladding and an oddly-proportioned tailgate.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
When this car launched back in 2009, the Top Gear trio observed that the window line down the side looks as though the designer sneezed while he was drawing up the car, but kept the resulting dip in the rear window. It doesn’t work for me, and even though Hyundai updated the Genesis with the fantastic front end you see above, the rest of the car just looks bulky and a little strange, all goofy window lines considered.
But, window lines be damned, the Genesis Coupe is one of the most fun RWD cars you can buy for cheap.
Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
I think some really interesting designs and cool features went completely overlooked in a lot of 80s and 90s corporate-coupes because most of them didn’t look like much and they weren’t very exciting to drive. The 1987 Ford Thunderbird Coupe, on the other hand, solved both of those problems by having a striking front end (by the standards of the time), a lively 2.3l turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, and even the option of a 5-speed stick. However, beyond the sweet aerodynamic grille, the rest of the car was a bit frumpy and bland, and the Turbo Coupe, unfortunately, didn’t stick around for very long.