By on February 26, 2020

We’ve had two prior posts discussing the highs and lows of automotive design from the decade most recently closed. Both those times we kept our choices in the affordable category, where starting prices were under $100,000 when new. Today we double that limit, and consider upscale designs.

As before, we’re focusing on production cars. Excluded are design exercises, prototypes, and one-offs of esoteric value built by South Coast Customs or what have you. Concerning ourselves with upscale designs today, six figures is the target. Cars which cost between $100,000 and $200,000 are fair game. Surely there was much beauty on offer for such significant money, right?

Oh look, here’s one!

It’s the Mercedes-AMG GT. You’ll note there’s no Benz in its name, and that’s because it was developed entirely by AMG. A challenger to Porsche’s 911, AMG hired Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton to assist with the design. The all-new car debuted in 2015 as a coupe and convertible. There are several different versions on sale, including one called the 4-Door Coupe (which is ugly). I’m focused on the coupe version.

On offer at the lower end of today’s budget, the coupe starts at $113,500 and heads up to a reasonable $158,000 for the sportiest R version. A 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is standard, and all versions are rear-wheel drive. Also standard is the sleek coupe shape with a properly long hood, enormous Silver Arrow in the grille, and excellent surface tension across the entire exterior. In person they have quite a presence, appearing graceful and upscale. I think the AMG GT will go down as a design classic.

But maybe I’m wrong. Do you have a different premium design winner from the 2010s?

[Images: Porsche, Mercedes-Benz]

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26 Comments on “QOTD: The Best Upscale Car Design of the 2010s?...”

  • avatar

    Aston Martin Raptide :)

  • avatar

    The AMG GT came to mind as soon as I read the title to the thread. Rapide and Quattroporte are great pics as well.

    Before I read the qualifying criteria of being production cars, I would have also said Cadillac Ciel and Escala….both stunning in my opinion, so of course they were never built. Buick Avenir concept also stunning IMO.

  • avatar

    This segment is so spoiled….all about what grabs you.

    But I don’t think the GT does anything for me that the SLS didn’t…

  • avatar

    That AMG is tough to top–

  • avatar

    The BMW Z8 still looks fresh even today, so I’d buy that instead :)
    And it would most likely appreciate over time.

  • avatar

    Not sure about production (somewhere I read that they planned to make 8 a year) – but I think that COMET is a beauty:

  • avatar

    The Portofino is over $200K, so I’ll pick the Porsche 911 (991) Targa.

  • avatar

    Living in the valley of the silicon beast I see lots of “special” rides daily. The only ones that catch my eye are the Tesla S and the BMW 4 coupe. Very clean lines for what is available new today.

    I don’t care for the BMW interior which is very busy and it has the ugly ipad fixed center display. And then there is the vaunted BMW reliability. Even though it is not that expensive lease, lease, lease.

    The Tesla S remains the luxury brand to own where I live. Sort of like the MBZ S series was in the 1990s. AMG and BMW M series drivers remind me of the old Porsche porcupine joke.

    It has been a long time since I have owned a “luxury” auto but the “extended range” Tesla S is very tempting even now that incentives are gone. If they built a 3 series size S it would be a serious consideration for my next vehicle purchase.

  • avatar

    I’m going with the Lexus SC500. In red.

    Yes, it has the predator grill, and it works beautifully on this design. Yes, it’s a touch under a hundred grand (adding a couple of options solves that). These are trifles…I love this car. As a bonus, the exhaust note is magnificent.

    Honorable mention: BMW i8.

  • avatar

    All the Mercedes-Benz cars from around the early to mid 2010s looked swell and embodied a proper Mercedes (some carried in from the mid-2000s, like the X164 GL-Class or the W221 S-Class). The interiors and exteriors were classy yet simple. The seats had a simple outline and only had a few seams, the dashboards were straight, the bodies were clean-lined and the grilles/lights/body accessories didn’t look like they were borrowed from the Hyundai/Kia parts bin.

    These days, Mercedes products look like rebadged Hyundais and everything now has a turbo and the engines/drivetrains are a whole new level of complicated. The interiors are way too busy and having what looks like an iPad glued to the dashboard is quite unsightly and just asking for it to snap clean off with one wrong move of the arm (for those who are obsessive-compulsive about detailing the interior of their car, this is important). The diamond stitch pattern on the seats is just too ugly in my opinion. I think that Mercedes has definitely gone downmarket.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Mercedes is a beast. I was parked next one at a stop light this past fall. I was in my Vette’ and the rumble coming from the AMG was palpable. I had a quick opportunity to speak with owner and he advised that he had some tuning work done and was approaching 700 HP, not sure if he meant rear wheel or crank. I lack the funds to purchase such a car and then go add performance mods on top of the already expensive entry point, but I am delighted their are those who do have the funds to create such rides.

  • avatar

    Is it just me or does that AMG GT look a lot like the Chrysler Crossfire from 2004? Yes, the tail is stretched just a little bit with horizontal tail lamps instead of the larger lamps on the Crossfire, but the profile is quite similar.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe no one mentioned the Bentley Continental GT. The combination of restrained style, elegance, and the muscular stance says it all for me. Plus, in 2010 the base price was less than $200,000.
    That’s why I bought one.

  • avatar
    Dale Houston

    The Tesla Model S. Clean lines. Nice proportions. Looks like the future.

    The newer nose is not as nice as the original. They should bring the old nose back.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t get the love for the old Model S nose. The “grille” looks like a cheap piece of black plastic with a dated oval shape. The new nose looks far more polished and appropriate at the Model S price point.

  • avatar

    Porsche Taycan, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, and Lexus LC. There are no other contenders IMO.

  • avatar

    No argument with the Mercedes AMG GT, but it is the BMW i8 that floats my boat.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Fisker Karma. Much better looking in person than in pictures.

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