When brands update their cars, sometimes the stylists get it wrong.
Facelifted models are supposed to add some flair to an existing model – to bring it up to speed with its competitors, or harden up some edges that may been looking a little limp on the original model. They can be massive, major overhauls, or nips and tucks and tweaks to minor aspects of the car’s design.
But car designers sometimes fall short of that goal. In fact, here’s a list of cars that we think failed the facelift test in 2016 – we get that styling is subjective, but it’s impossible to argue against some of the cars here being fugly.
CarAdvice‘s resident aesthetics guru Mike Stevens (yes, he’s truly gorgeous) and myself (hey, I think I know a shocker from a sweetheart when it comes to appearance!) share our thoughts on the 2016 facelift fails.
MC: Wait… this was a facelifted model? Nah. Surely not. It looks like the same old Giulietta.
MS: It just didn’t go far enough. You can never be too sure of the background on these projects (was the company too broke to accommodate a decent redesign budget, was the company committed to a specific parts supply volume or timeline), but there’s no denying this is one lazy update. You just revealed the Giulia and you couldn’t try bringing this one a little more in line?
Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
MC: Don’t call it the FF… Don’t call it the FF… Don’t call it the FF… The facelifted version of the Ferrari FF (F#@K!) – sorry, the GTC4 Lusso – doesn’t look like it deserves an all-new name. That’s probably my biggest issue with it. But hey, that’s Ferrari’s deal. It still looks alright.
MS: I didn’t like the FF, I do like this. Quite a bit. The FF to me was dull and awkward (which, frankly, is how I felt about the 458), but this ‘new’ GTC4 has fixed everything for me. It looks a lot meaner, now. And, funnily enough, that’s why I like the 488 a whole lot more than the 458 base it started from.
MC: I like it. The tail-gate without a wheel neatens up the look, and hopefully we get a top-hinged rear door rather than the stupid side-swinger (which opens the wrong way!). Looks tidier overall, if a little sedate.
MS: Not a fan. I wasn’t a fan of its look before, either, but… while the pre-facelift model looked awkward in an overall view, its finer details were fairly well resolved. But now, cheap and chintzy headlight design, a paint-by-numbers ‘upset catfish’ update to the grille, and a bumper right out of the 90s.
MC: I liked the Kuga’s looks more than I like these softer, rounder edges of the Escape. It just doesn’t look as European – I guess that’s because it’s the US version instead. Nah. Leave it how it was.
MS: Speaking of 90s-era design, the rear of this update is just such an example. The new front-end looks good, but the new-look tail lights and liftgate make the ‘old’ Kuga rear look like it’s the update and this is the outgoing design. What a weird turn.
MC: This was on my ‘successful scalpel-work of 2016’ list, but Stevens reckons otherwise. Personally I think the headlights are a massive improvement, and the fact the low-spec models look almost identical to the high-spec versions is a plus for tight-arses.
MS: A far, far improved design over the old look, but still not on the level of offerings like the Ranger (pre- or post-update) and the Amarok. It’s not Triton ugly, but it’s not properly handsome either. Here’s hoping the next, more ‘upmarket’, Colorado will impress.
MC: We don’t get it, so I don’t really care too much about this car. But they could have done more, that’s for sure.
MS: Rubbish bumper design at both ends, but the (unchanged) headlights are still nice. Anyway, who cares – we don’t get it here.
MC: Wait…. Did they actually do anything here? Another in the “I’ll wait to see it in the metal” basket.
MS: Matt, ouch! Okay, so it’s not an especially comprehensive makeover and certainly nothing as extensive as we’ve seen with the Ranger and Colorado. Still, the new headlights give the D-Max some new life, and the lightly updated bumper look is also an improvement.
I think we agree, though, that this is fairly dull update that will see the D-Max continue to sell on pedigree and value rather than looks (or, for that matter, interior quality).
MC: Why do that? Why make the headlights – which were already hideous – even more gross with that cubic inlay stuff that just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the front end? I get they’re being distinctive, but there’re better ways about it.
MS: Yuck yuck yuck. Those new headlights have triggered my gag reflex, and the new bumper design – which is somehow made out of nothing but intakes, faux or otherwise – is equally off-putting. Nonetheless, I’ll admit that the previous headlights eventually grew on me and it’s possible, however unlikely, that these new eyes will too. Urgh.
MC: When I first saw it, I thought there would have been more done. Perhaps there should have been, but why mess with a formula that clearly works.
MS: Yep. As Matt has alluded to, the Mazda3 is a perfect example of a relatively small company avoiding an unnecessary investment in comprehensively redesigning a car that is already a very strong seller.
That’s likely why the CX-5’s mid-life styling updates were even less significant than these, and why the 6’s makeover focused more on its underwhelming cabin than the already appealing outside.
MC: Look, I might draw the ire of some readers here, but I kinda like the front end of this. I mean, it’s a bit like putting lipstick on a pig: the pig is prettier, but it’s still a pig.
MS: Matt, no. Just no. This is a cheap, lazy attempt at slapping the company’s “Dynamic Shield” face on the old ASX when they should’ve just let it sail through to retirement. The new model is right around the corner.
MC: Can you believe this is still the same basic car that went on sale way back in 2007? And that people still buy heaps of them? And that people are stupid? There might never be another Mitsubishi Lancer, and I don’t think it’s fair to let this be the note it goes out on.
MS: In fairness, at least they didn’t try playing the same card they dealt to the ASX. That new grille is an anonymous and depressing excuse for an update, but at least it works. In a ‘lipstick on a pig’ kind of way.
MC: It’ll take a lot more than just a new face to improve this thing. Do more, or don’t bother, Mitsubishi.
MS: This one is… okay. It’s got nothing on the Mazda 2, but there are less resolved designs in this segment. It’s certainly the most tasteful of Mitsubishi’s recent updates.
MC: The headlight inlays pull the edges of the headlights down, which, for me, looks a bit negative. I think I prefer the pre-facelift look more.
MS: An improvement. It looks tougher up front, finally less anonymous than the model it replaces. The Kluger looks meaner, the CX-9 more premium, but this at least looks passable. Sadly, the real letdown here is in the cabin, where, despite the Pathfinder having launched only a few years ago, the 90s are still partying away.
MC: My, what a bit chromey nose you have? This is one that’ll really be determined when you see it in the metal, I reckon. Anything is better than nothing – I just wish they’d turn their attention inside the cabin, chiefly to the media systems. They’re terrible.
MS: I like it. The front is busier, which is often not a good thing, but Nissan has stopped just short of going too far. I don’t think it needs reshaped headlights, but the new diving grille design looks mean. The heavily ridged foglight surround is verging on overkill, but, again, it works.
Oddly, the most pleasing update for me is to the tail lamps, which now having an LED feature and a tinted chrome section – rather than the chrome-heavy design of the current model. The new steering wheel is nice, too.
MC: Be it the RS model or the regular versions, whoever decided to make a perfectly attractive car look like it has suffered some sort of allergic reaction to the world should be fired. I’m a massive fan of the current model, so I might have to buy one before this monstrosity arrives.
MS: Those headlights, why? I actually don’t mind the shape of the inner units, continuing the light of the grille to create a sharp shape along the face. But those outer units are a misshapen mess. I’m trying mighty hard to withhold judgement until I see it in the flesh, but it’s a struggle.
That aside, the new infotainment display looks terrific, and the subtle LED update to the tail lamps is also nice.
MC: It was ugly to begin with, and the new grille, headlights and bumpers don’t fix that. Still ugly, but kind of distinctive, too.
MS: This is really quite disappointing. Although boring, the new grille is at least passable. But what on earth are those headlights? Here’s a tip: hire an actual designer, and tell the boss’s nephew he’s not welcome anymore.
Tesla Model S
MC: Another of the my favourite facelifts of 2016. I get that it looks a bit confronting at first, but why did the original one even need a fake grille? The car’s electric – making it look more like a non-petrol car is a big hit for me.
MS: I suspect I’ll get used to it, but that tiny slot ‘grille’ and huge blank face freaks me out. Less than the Model 3’s completely blank face, though. That one reminds me of The Matrix‘s Neo having his mouth sealed over by Agent Smith and his cronies.
MC: Nope. It looks like they’ve made the front end of the thing look like a guppy. That bumper doesn’t look sporty at all.
MS: We’re on the same page here, Matt. The new bumper has taken the past decade’s fish-face trend to a new level of unfortunate. It’s otherwise a fairly boring update, although the tweaked interior is nice.
MC: Thankfully the changes are more than skin deep here. The new eight-speed auto could transform the drive experience. As for the look? Well, unless you own a current Kluger, you mightn’t even pick the differences.
MS: Another one I’ll get used to, but not a fan. Very American. It looks tough like a linebacker, and that works for some, but it does little for me. I think the old Kluger could be rolled out today (in its facelifted form) and still look nicer than this.
MC: This wasn’t so much a facelift as an update of the interior, and the cockpit is better than it was. But seriously, the old Tarago horse has bolted, surely. #needsreplacement
MS: Not much has changed, but… at least it’s not the update we originally thought we were getting. Funny thing is, though, I think the Tarago still looks pretty fresh.
It’s not competitive anymore as an offering in the market, but aesthetically, I really believe this people mover was ahead of its time when compared to what was on offer in the segment at the time. I reckon it’s still a good looker.
MC: Look, I love my utes, and I’m an Amarok fan. The interior is better, yes, but it still lacks airbag coverage for both rows (shame!) and the front-end could have done with more sculpting.
MS: I hear you, Matt, but I reckon the Amarok still looks ace. Let’s not call it a facelift. It might never get an actual makeover, but I don’t reckon it needs one. This is still one of the best looking rigs in its segment, I say.
MC: The Volkswagen Golf 7.5 update will arrive here next year looking almost the same as it already did. That won’t change the fact it’s a class leader. But I wanted to see more visual differentiation… Oh, wait – it’s a German car. They don’t do that.
MS: Yeah, we were never going to see many changes on the outside. I had thought the headlights would take on a more Passat-like look, with the kicked-back inside edge, but I wasn’t expecting much more than that. Is it still good looking? I think so.
MC: Thor’s Hammer: so it got new headlight inlays to match the newer cars in the range. Shame it lags behind the XC90 and S90 in pretty much every other conceivable way.
MS: Lazy, lazy work. Geely must be holding the purse stings mighty tight, because this could easily have been brought more in line with the new 90-Series models. Still, we’ve seen where Volvo is going with the 40-Series models, and it won’t be far away.
What were your most disappointing styling updates in 2016? Tell us in the comments below.