Three Hideous Concepts Shown in New York

Saab Phoenix concept

Unlike my compadre tgriffith, who drools over ludicrous supercars, I drool over grotesque concept cars. You know, the ones that are so ugly and weird that they can turn off a carmaker’s customers forever.

The ones whose designers confuse creativity with confusion, good taste with shock value, function with ornamentation. There weren’t that many bummers in the New York Show, but these three were outstanding, in my opinion.

We’ve talked about the Saab Phoenix (above) before, and we hate to keep punishing a company that’s on the ropes, but the Phoenix has more unnecessary styling gimmicks than a Christmas tree, and the whole is a lot less than the sum of the parts.

Mechanically, the Phoenix is an all-wheel-drive, BMW-powered hybrid and has all the infotainment junk you could want, plus a rear end that looks like an old Pontiac Firebird.

Mazda CX-5Like Saab, Mazda has built some interesting cars, but with its new Minagi/Kodo styling concept, who is going to buy them? The latest to go into production (next year) will be the CX-5 crossover. Long in the snout, chopped off in the tail, the CX-5 will have all the so-called SkyActiv higher-efficiency features that Mazda is touting against its hybrid competition.

It’s a great company with a great history of innovation, though not, perhaps, in styling.

Hyundai Nuvis conceptAnd then Hyundai showed its Nuvis concept, another hybrid. This one isn’t so bad, except for the gullwing doors (which can’t possibly see production) and the front end, which looks like an oriental frog.

Jalopnik described the interior:

Inside the tech meets eco theme continues with all the interior fabrics made from 100% recycled materials and touch screen interfaces all over the place. Since ambient lighting is the current fad for all designers it’s got very dramatic blue lighting to compliment the swoopy, unmanufacturable shapes. [sic]

I dunno, folks. Maybe I’m being too critical about these cars. But we’ve seen some glorious concepts in the past, and now many carmakers just seem to be trying too hard.

Which of the concepts above, if any, do you think shows the most promise?


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  1. I completely disagree. This car is one of the best concepts I have seen in a while, and Saab is actually using some of the concepts on the future models. What car do you own? I am curious what you think is an attractive car. I owned two Saabs and a Firebird and love cars that standout. These are the cars that people will remember in 20 years, and will restore for people to enjoy decades later. The most ludicrous thing I have ever heard from any “car guy” was too many unnecessary styling gimmicks on a concept car. Honestly, extrapolate upon what credentials qualify you to dissect the intricacies of what a car is supposed to look like. Entertain me at the very least, that is your real job – not being an expert on cars.

  2. jgoods, you gotta remember that people with bad taste (or no taste) need to buy cars, houses, clothing, furniture, music, etc. etc.

    So the car makers or the world are more than willing to make ugly, tasteless cars for the masses of esthetically challenged people with money. When we see them driving up we can remember not to accept invites to their ugly, tastely homes to watch bad movies, drink bad wine with ghastly food on gross furniture and listen to their poorly-bred progeny scream at each other.

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