Ugly Design Awards Always Include Japanese Cars

2009 Infiniti FX50

2009 Infiniti FX50

It’s certainly not true that the Japanese are the only ones to produce ugly cars. But theirs have a singular look that anyone can easily identify. We show you three models here, two Nissans and an Acura—good cars, yet no one should buy them unless they want to be accused of being tasteless.

Our big winner has to be the Infiniti FX50, whose appearance Top Gear likened to that of a whale shark. This luxo crossover has achieved good reviews, but imagine driving it to a top restaurant where the parking attendant snickers. And others point at your headlights.

But then look at Acura, with its TL. The nose resembles a cow-catcher on an old steam locomotive. The rear end could well be the front if you replaced the red taillight lenses with clear ones (see video). What has happened to the company that built the NSX?

2010 Nissan GT-R

And where did Nissan’s GT-R (right) come from? If you’re going to produce and sell a 195-mph sports car, it better appeal to more than Japanese buyers. However, Wikipedia tells us that

Nissan chief creative officer, Shiro Nakamura, has likened the new GT-R to the eponymous giant robots of the Gundam series. Nakamura states: “The GT-R is unique because it is not simply a copy of a European-designed supercar, it had to really reflect Japanese culture.”

90_nissan_300zxWho cares? It’s still ugly. Why can’t Nissan be happy producing cars like the G37 coupe and sedan? Or like the classic 300ZX (left), one of which I owned and wish I had still. Japanese car designers can do great things if they get their minds off robots, anime, and other frivolities.

Can you nominate other Japanese cars for the Ugly Awards? Don’t be shy.


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  1. Are you serious Malina? Not only is the FX35 ugly, the fact that you also like the Murano just makes me realize your twisted sense of style. The first time I saw a Murano all I saw was an old AMC Gremlin on steroids. They may be decent vehicles to drive, but I would want dark tinted windows so that people would not see me driving one.

  2. The Infiniti FX …
    Is a fabulous looking SUV way better than any SUV out there .

  3. I disagree. I own an older version of the Infiniti FX35, and it’s not an ugly car at all. It’s an amazing design and the car is very reliable. The look is original and the engine purrs like a kitten/tiger… whatever floats your boat. People don’t snicker or find the design tasteless. In my experience, people were envious of the car because it’s not as typical as your BMW’s and Honda’s. There’s nothing like it. Except maybe the Murano, but by a long-shot. Japanese cars are unique and original. American cars look like boxes on wheels, who haven’t changed in the past decade. P.S. the headlights look fantastic and I don’t know where you’re getting your information from.

  4. All Japanese cars are Ugly nowdays….They don’t design like they used too…..American cars still have it em…….

  5. Is it just me or are all the new Subies ugly ducklings. Same goes for all Acuras, Hondas(the Civic and Accord are major disapointments), and Toyotas. The newer Nissans would look great if they didn’t have those stupid boomerange headlights.

  6. Should we really place the blame on the Japanese and their quirky taste in weird game shows if their luxury cars were designed here in North America?

    “Two-thirds of all Acura vehicles sold in America are researched, designed, developed and assembled exclusively in North America.”

    Manufacturers redesign offerings might have influenced these disappointing sales figures of -38.5% in Acura Truck sales and -28.8% in Acura Car sales (July 2008-2009), in comparison to Audi sales have climbed 20% (Year to date).

    I place the blame squarely on the automotive design studios. Peter Schreyer from VW/Audi group should forget about Korea and show some of these studios on how put out some winning and lasting automotive designs.

  7. I nominate pretty much anything sporting a Toyota badge nowadays.

    Also – the G37 coupe and sedan are some butt-ugly variations on what was once sexy – the G35. Nissan’s new Maxima is simply atrocious. The Pathfinder Armada causes my eyes to bleed. Whose brilliant idea was it that all modern Japanese cars need to have odd bends and droops in the weirdest of places? And boomerang-shaped headlamps? No THANKS.

    Though I must say that the designers at Honda seem to have their heads on straight when it comes to styling nowadays. Acura TL included.

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