Opinion: The Overstyling Of Hyundai/Kia Vehicles May Be Coming To A Head

I’ve seen the new Kia Sportage in person. I’ve also seen the new Hyundai Tucson up close. Both show the companies’ latest take in a series of outrageous designs that are meant to win over consumers.

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2023 BMW I7 Will Have Massive, Pointless Grille

With the electrified BMW 7-series arriving in earnest next month, the manufacturer has opted to push a few teasers photos to whet our collective apatite for oversized grilles. Despite the i7 being an all-electric vehicle, BMW has kept the oversized-grille motif we’ve already seen deployed on the 4 Series and similarly electric iX SUV.

It might not make a lot of sense from an engineering perspective. But Bavaria feels that the kidney grille is an essential part of the brand’s image, so important that it put a faux variant on the iX. While the i7 teasers appear to lack the painted-on geometric patterns, expect it to be another example of form over function. We just hope BMW actually offers owners the ability to open the hood without the aid of a special tool it doesn’t want you to have.

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Weird Wheels: United Nude's 'Lo-Res Car' Up for Auction

If anybody has a soft spot for wedge designs and the automotive future envisioned during the 1970s, it’s yours truly. While mainstream vehicles being manufactured during the Malaise Era often left a lot to be desired, the concepts were sublime and led to some of the most unique-looking production cars in automotive history. I’m talking about cars like the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1, De Tomaso Pantera, and DeLorean DMC-12. Toss in the digital dashboards that were gradually appearing in standard passenger cars during the 1980s and you’ve reached the point where I would probably claim automotive styling reached its zenith after a few stiff drinks. But I’ve been told by those who can distinguish fetishization from appreciation that those designs weren’t perfect and kind of look the same when there’s enough squinting is deployed.

Apparently, someone took that premise and used it as a template for a modern prototype intended to help sell shoes. Though the company focused entirely on the basic shape of wedge cars, settling on a vehicle that resembles what a Countach might have looked like in a video game from two decades ago should the assets fail to load. Known as the United Nude Lo-Res Concept Vehicle, it’s probably one of the more-unique automobiles ever built and it’s yours for the taking now that the Petersen Automotive Museum doesn’t want it.

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Rare Rides: A Prototype 1970 Porsche 914 Murene, by Heuliez

Today’s Rare Ride is the second vehicle in the series designed by French coachbuilder Heuliez, and was a one-off as part of a Porsche 914 styling competition.

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Kia Sportage Updates Styling for Fifth Generation

Kia has updated the design of its Sportage to mimic the enticing angular menace that is the K5 sedan. It’s a far cry from the overtly friendly styling of the outgoing model, though appears to be working rather well. The fifth generation of the crossover digitally debuted in Korea on Tuesday and has already garnered a notable amount of praise. Though this went exclusively toward the visual updates, as there doesn’t appear to be much changing in terms of mechanical equipment.

Kia’s official release doesn’t even mention powertrains.

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QOTD: Best-looking Awful Car?

“Awful” can mean a lot of things, some of them pretty benign. A car can simply a boring appliance, and to some, this makes said car awful. Others might disagree.

Other vehicles might boast many positive attributes, only to have reliability issues render them awful in the minds of many. Yet an awful car can still be a thing of beauty, in the purely physical sense. Name one.

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QOTD: Are We Done With Retro?

Nothing like a nice evening drive on a warm summer’s night, streetlights whipping by as the western horizon glows with hues of peach and lavender. Yessir, there’s nothing like some leisurely motoring. And what’s that up ahead?

Oh, an FJ Cruiser, Toyota’s answer to the retro craze sweeping the industry back in the early to middle 2000s. Big ol’ thing, it was — and thirsty, too. Kept its resale value, though, but certainly not its initial sales prowess. That thing’s popularity dwindled faster than inhibitions at a kegger.

Will a time ever come when automakers again dive into retro with such ferocity, I wondered?

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BMW M4 Leaks, Can Smell You Where You Sit

An abundance of fragrant pollen in your author’s neighborhood has led to increasing sinus distress over the past few days, but he wouldn’t trade places with the upcoming BMW M4 for a second. No, sir. Not with those flared nostrils.

Leaked to the internet via the g20.bimmerpost forum, the muscled-up sibling to the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe unveiled this week takes that car’s already controversial front-end treatment to new extremes, confirming what we already expected.

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Face Time: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Drops the Towel

It seems potentially controversial front end treatments are today’s theme. After teasing its upcoming Santa Fe last week, Hyundai let it all out on Tuesday, debuting a wildly different fascia with which to temp buyers on the hunt for an “ultimate family adventure vehicle.”

If you’re not up on your corporate marketing-speak, that’s how Hyundai refers to its popular midsize crossover. Despite bowing in fourth-generation form in mid-2018, the Santa Fe rolls into 2021 with a new platform in tow, begging to be noticed — not that it already wasn’t.

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2021 BMW 5 Series: Electrification Soaks Deeper Into the 'I've Succeeded' Bimmer

Refreshed and technologically updated, the BMW 5 Series maintains a familiar powertrain lineup for 2021, albeit with a few adjustments that reflect the company’s environmental proclamations.

Just because buyers choose green doesn’t mean they shun horsepower, and just because buyers are willing to add some electrification to their life, doesn’t mean they want to feel it.

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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe: Refresh Time Already

Hyundai apparently feels that boasting the freshest faces in the industry will help it woo the American buying public. With a full stable of crossovers now realized, it’s not a terrible strategy.

Just two model years after its debut, the midsize Santa Fe crossover (which replaced the Santa Fe Sport and necessitated a name change for the existing, larger Santa Fe to Santa Fe XL before that model’s metamorphosis into the less confusingly named Palisade) stands to gain a fairly radical new front end design.

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Thai-market Nissan Kicks E-Power Could Be a Design Omen

Almost every day I go for a walk that takes me up the hill behind my apartment. And on that route, I pass by a black, base model Nissan Kicks parked in my neighbor’s driveway. A value special, for sure, and one with a decent amount of attributes — its starting price being topmost among them.

In a country far, far away, Nissan just introduced an altogether different Kicks, and at least one part of it should make its way stateside.

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QOTD: Keep a Lid on Things?

Last night’s online conversation about bad General Motors vehicles wasn’t the first of its kind, and it’ll surely not be the last. More important than restful sleep, wee-hours back-and-forths about rattly but somehow indestructible GM J-bodies are an important part of staying sane as lockdown measures remain in place on both sides of the Detroit River.

Naturally, thoughts of Cavalier soon turned to CALAIS, and from there to an aspect of that particular era that’s always bothered yours truly: rooflines.

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Sometimes It's Just Nice to Hear a Car Designer Talk About Driving

Ever been to a party where the most interesting person wasn’t the life of the room, but the quiet person in the corner, calmly — perhaps a little shyly — sipping their drink and taking in all the things occurring before them?

Vehicle designers seem like that person. The braggadocious CEOs and upper-level execs can have their carefully scripted buzzwords and future-minded visions of a soulless future filled with robot cars and never not working, but a designer will want to talk about emotion. A feeling. A simple pleasure. A small feature with outsized importance.

Jaguar’s design boss likes to talk about those things, but he’s not afraid to raise the errors of the past.

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QOTD: The Worst a Man Can Get?

In this time of stress, fear, and uncertainty, please forgive the gendered headline, online Millennials. It applies to all genders.

Having said that, this week’s release of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra, a bread-and-butter product for the Korean brand, got this author thinking about design. Specifically, the decisions taken by design teams between major styling revamps.

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  • FreedMike It's not cheap, but 45 grand for a car with this kind of performance, equipment level and practicality isn't a bad deal at all. @Tim - I think you have the wrong transmission listed in the box above. The DSG is a seven-speed, not a six-speed.
  • FreedMike During my second year of college, I took my first French class, where I discovered that if you remove the "e" from "Citroen," you get the French word for "lemon." My family had a Citroen - an SM, no less. Completely appropriate. Nice logo or not, Stellantis is going to have an uphill battle reintroducing this brand - or any French brand, for that matter.
  • IBx1 It works better as an oval than a circle as it appears in the headline photo, but I generally dislike the 2D logos everyone in the industry is adopting and think badge looked great since '09.
  • Pbxtech I like it, but it's not an improvement. Lateral move at best.
  • Cprescott It is not a disaster like the 2024 Ford Mustake.