Geneva 2016: Top 5 production car disappointments

#5 Ssangyong Tivoli XLV

Ssangyong Tivoli XLV

Why is it here? Because it marks a returns to form for Ssangyong as the maker of the ugliest cars on earth. The regular Tivoli may not be a great looker, but at least it’s a decently-proportioned small crossover. And proportions is exactly what this overstretched, under-wheeled monstrosity gets so horribly wrong.

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#4 Ford Edge & Kuga Vignale

Ford Edge Vignale

Why are they here? This must be the lamest attempt at making mainstream cars “premium” since British Leyland’s similar efforts in the 1970s. As they say, you can put lipstick on a pig…

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#3 VW Phideon

VW Phideon

Why is it here? Because it represents the worst of VW’s design instincts. Rather than produce a truly luxurious-looking car based on the Audi A6 platform, VW decided to give it the look of a 2011 VW Jetta, complete with a fake air vent behind the front wheels that give it an eerie similarity to another design turkey – the new Lincoln Continental.

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#2 Maserati Levante

Maserati Levante

Why is it here? After a 5 year wait since the gorgeous Kubang concept came out, and even longer since the equally-stunning 2003 concept of the same name, this is the best that Maserati could offer: a gawky-looking crossover with all the dynamism and design flair of a melting marshmallow. In a nutshell, it looks too tall, too narrow, and the wheels are too small. It would have been disappointing if it was made by a lesser carmaker, but the sting is all the greater given that it comes from the same people that gave us the drop-dead gorgeous GranTurismo and Ghibli.

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#1 Audi Q2

Audi Q2

Why is it here? This was Audi’s chance to break the mould and create a small car that is both funky, and points to the future of Audi SUV design. Instead what we got is a car that manages to be both unattractive and generic, the kind of design that people make fun of when it comes out of China, complete with a ghastly C-pillar whose “accent” coloring makes people think that Audi forgot to remove masking tape before showing the car. Truly, a wasted opportunity.

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Dishonorable mentions:

#1 Porsche 718 Boxster

Porsche Boxster

Why is it here? Two very different reasons. First, it ditches the naturally-aspirated 6-cyl for a turbocharged 4-cyl engine. Second, because some genius at Porsche decided the Boxster name was not recognizable enough, and forced a meaningless “718” moniker on the facelifted model.

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#2 Aston Martin DB11

Aston Martin DB11

Why is it here? This is bound to be a controversial choice, as the DB11 is many people’s best car from Geneva. However, to me the DB11 tries to hard by half to be different to the gorgeous DB9. I understand the desire to move the design on, but the DB11’s styling details, such as the air extractors behind the front wheels or the “floating roof”, deny it the most important trait for a GT car: elegance. Smooth these rough edges out and the DB11 will be beautiful; as is, it’s a case of “close, but no cigar” for me…

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  1. Hi Krzysztof – a fine selection – and a witty description of their faults. I’m sure I read somewhere that Audi had designed the Q2 to have emotional appeal to a younger audience – what utter, utter tosh. It has the same visual appeal as the Ford Vignale – with or without lipstick. I do however, like the rear of the DB11 – it’s almost as well resolved as the Jaguar F-Type. Although quite why a grown man would find the back-end of a car attractive, is a bit of a worry.

  2. I agree with you except for the DB11. Love it!

    The Q2 is laughable and for me shows why Audi isn’t a top brand. They just look what others do. Real top brands walk in front like BMW with their i-models. I hope Marc Lichte, the new head designer of Audi, had a bad day, because his first production car design failed miserably.

    By the way, ‘718’ isn’t meaningless. The late 50s Porsche 718 had a four cylinder engine like the facelifted Boxster/Cayman.

  3. Audi used to lead the field, but it seems that success in car design leads to stagnation – designers, or executive level are scared to change something that is clearly working. Currently, Audi are selling very well, but eventually the public will bore of the look, sales will fall and they will have to come up with something new. The sooner the better…

  4. @Losange Marc Lichte had very little influence on the Q2. His first complete design will be the 2017 A8, and i’m looking forward to it… because seriously, Audi needs a major shake up in the design department. This also means that the new Q5, coming later this year, is probably going to look like a cross between the Q2 and the Q7, so… Meh :/

    @Kris Although i agree that the new DB11 lacks the elegance of the DB9, i thinks it is a truly beautiful car. However, it seems to be VERY colour dependent. You really have to find the best spec to make the car look as good as it can, and some configurations can easily fall into the distasteful.

  5. I almost completely agree with the article. Even though the Audi Design seems to be a little bit “stuck” in general they still produce nice looking cars, I still enjoy the design of the current A6 even though it’s on the markt for quite a time. In my opinion the Q2 is not only a wasted opportunity, it’s actually one of the ugliest Audis EVER produced and the accent coloring only makes it worse.

    The DB11 biggest problem is the spectacular Design of the DB9… it’s kind of hard to live up to that. But I don’t get why it has to be worse looking than the DB10.

    I also don’t like the current Maserati Design in general… but again, it’s hard to live up to the design of the Quattroporte V.

  6. I don’t agree with the opinion of the author on the Audi Q 2. I really like it. Or I should say: The more I look(ed) at it, the more I like(d) it. But difference of opinion is what makes life interesting innit? 🙂

    All the best

  7. @Billyjoel – you’re absolutely right, the difference in opinions and your guys’ feedback is what makes these articles interesting!

    And, to be honest, I can see your point on how the Q2 is a bit of a “grower”, it’s just that it has such a long way to go…

  8. @Losagne @Steven @tuga – I knew putting the DB11 on this list would be controversial, and even I have to admit – I think it’s a great looking car. It’s just that I think it could have been better-looking still, but maybe that’s my naive optimism… after all, maybe without these details that grate me the DB11 would look too much like the Vanquish Mk II, and then we’d all be complaining about that. It’s such a fine balancing act, designing cars…

  9. @Losagne – yeah, I recognize that the “718” number has history, but quite what it means to 99% of Boxster buyers, or why Porsche felt it needed to augment the Boxster name to begin with is beyond me. I think what bothers me now is the completely disjointed naming convention at Porsche: 718 Boxster, 911 Carrera, 918 Spyder, Cayenne, Macan, Panamera… I feel they were perfectly well off without numbers, other than of course the historic 911 moniker. IMO the 918 should have gotten a sexy, fast name like its predecessor, the Carrera GT, and “718” should have been left to history…

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