Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sinister-Looking Car

Selecting a styling theme for an automobile is a tricky business. For that reason, many car designs have tended to be bland or highly derivative -- remember back around 1980 when a number of brands featured boxy styling that clearly was inspired by Mercedes-Benz?

There is the related, but hard to put one's finger on, factor of "personality:" consider the various iterations of the cute Volkswagen "Beetle" or Plymouth/Dodge Neon from the mid-1990s. Luxury makes often attempt to look dignified -- stately and conservative. In general, where personality is consciously injected into a design, it is something positive that a potential buyer might relate to.

So why then did Honda's Acura brand move to a style image that strikes me as being sinister?

Acura TL - 2010

Acura has been a runner-up near-luxury make. It hasn't had a racing heritage image such as Mercedes or Maserati or a performance-sedan persona like BMW's. And so far as I can judge, it never was skewed to one driver-sex; not a "chick car" nor "guy car."

Well, now it's a male-image car; a sub-middle-aged male one. Note all those sharp cuts and angled shapes in the grille and trunk areas.

This is not to say that only youngish, car-performance freak guys will be the only buyers. Still, I can't believe Honda consciously wants to abandon other, larger demographic market segments. Perhaps they simply want the car to be "edgy" (in more than one context), and are placing a bet on the Bob Lutz concept: Intense approval for some buyers is better for sales than blandness that doesn't have much effect one way or another.

Me? I don't mind the looks of the Acura TL and would consider buying one if I had the money and was needful of a new car. Though it might not be my first choice.

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