Sleek, sporty, and aggressive—these are three words that are commonly used when describing the styling of cars today. It may sound repetitive especially if you’re updated on the newest cars launched, but it’s the result of having the same design cues. Aggressive headlights, sharp character lines on the side, fancy LED taillight patterns, black claddings, two-tone finish, and faux exhaust tips at the back adorn many cars today.
We’re still in the beginning of a new decade and history tells us it’s time for some change – just like how the boxy cars of the 80s suddenly became rounded in the 90s. Car design is constantly evolving so it would be fun to guess how cars of the future would look.
Cars may share the same design elements but you won’t mistake one for another, thanks to the various brands’ design themes implemented at the front. Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield, Honda’s Solid Wing Face, Kia’s Tiger Nose, Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion, Lexus’s Spindle, and BMW’s Kidney grille are just some samples of a distinct front face. I don’t think this will go away since it ensures that there’s additional brand recognition even from afar.
When it comes to the body, things might be returning to less is more. This can be seen in newly launched cars like the new Lexus NX, Kia Sportage, and even the Ferrari 296 GTB. Honda, who designed a very sporty 10th-gen Civic, went back to the drawing board and made the 11th-gen very executive-looking. Even BMW who implemented humungous grilles with their new M3 and M5 restrained themselves aesthetically with their newly launched M2, which looks cleaner compared to its bigger brothers.
More modern-retro cars
In the case of certain nameplates with a long heritage, we could see more throwback design cues in their modern versions. This has proven to be a success with the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and more recently, the Suzuki Jimny. Even the upcoming new Nissan Z is going for this route as seen in the released prototype.
The appeal of seeing old design cues in a modern package works really well that some brands resurrect their design or nameplates. This is the case for the Honda E and the new Ford Bronco, so I won’t be surprised if the Nissan GTR returns to rectangular headlights, or the next Toyota Corolla gets a more circular aesthetic in front.
As technology becomes better, so do car components and it would inevitably affect how cars are designed. This is most apparent in the new Kia Sportage. It has a wider grille flanked by boomerang-ish daytime running lights. This was made possible since the headlights have become so small at the corners, thanks to advances in LED technology.
As for electric cars and hybrids, their safety features would mean designers have to contend with cameras, radars, and sensors on the car’s exterior. It’s this marriage between function and form that will affect, for better or worse, how cars will be designed in the future. One thing’s for sure, it certainly gives more freedom to the designers.
The grille is a blank canvas
Speaking of electric cars, their lack of engine means one thing: the car doesn’t need a grille anymore. There’s no engine infront that needs to be cooled, letting designers run wild with their imagination.
Tesla plainly covered it up and left it to character lines with the Model 3 and Model Y, while implementing a black housing for the logo in their Model X and Model S.
Established brands are retaining the grille though. There’s no vents this time and it’s simply for aesthetics, but it’s still interesting how different it is from the normal grille. Example of this are the new BMW iX and i4, all-electric models with the new vertical kidney grille; GM’s Hummer that has six blocks between the headlights that spell out “Hummer,” the Honda E that has a black housing for the width of the headlights, the F-150 Lightning that retained its chunk of metal between the headlights, and the new Ford Mach-E that has a black strip outlining where the former grille was.
With the advancements in technology combined with meeting goals towards a greener vehicle lineup, there’s no doubt that electrified cars will have a major impact on the future of car design. It would be interesting to see how much of these and how fast this would trickle down to more affordable models that still have internal combustion engines. As always, we can only wait and see, then enjoy the ride once they’re here.