Best-looking cars of the last decade

As we’re about to enter a brand-new decade, now is the ideal time to look back at the last 10 years of vehicle design to see which ones, according to the science of the Golden Ratio, are officially the most aesthetically pleasing. 

And you might be surprised by the results…

What is the Golden Ratio?

The golden ratio is a mathematical equation that’s been used by artists and designers since Ancient Greece in an attempt to better understand what makes some things more visually attractive. It breaks down as 1:1.618 (also known as Phi) and can be used to create rectangles, circles, spirals (you may have heard of the Fibonacci Spiral, which leans on the Golden Ratio) and more. If you see a rectangle with a height of 1 and a length of 1.618 then (according to the Golden Ratio) it’s the most pleasing form of the shape to the eye. 

Applying the Golden Ratio to cars

We wanted to understand how, if at all, the Golden Ratio has been applied in car design and discover which could be considered the most aesthetically beautiful, according to this equation. We identified common points on vehicles (headlights, grilles, wing mirrors and so on) across the promotional images of over 600 cars released in the last 10 years. Then we crunched some data and computed the most significant 50 ratios between these points as ranked by their conformity to the Golden Ratio. We then averaged the ratios for each car to get the car’s score for conformity to the Golden Ratio that varies as a score between 0 and 100.

And the results…

So, which cars are the most visually appealing and which stray too far from the Golden Ratio to fit the bill? Read on for our analysis.

The 10 most beautiful cars of the 2010s, according to the Golden Ratio

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#1

2016

Smart ForTwo Cabrio

98.83%

#2

2011

Volkswagen Up

98.62%

#3

2016

Vauxhall Mokka

98.57%

#4

2019

Toyota Corolla

98.56%

#5

2013-2017

Nissan Micra

98.55%

#6

2018

Suzuki Swift Sport

98.45%

#7

2016

Volkswagen Tiguan

98.45%

#8

2013

SEAT Leon

98.44%

#9

2018

Volkswagen Up

98.43%

#10

2016

SsangYong Tivoli XLV

98.43%

Yes, you read that right – far from the sleek sportscars you may have imagined, the cheeky Smart ForTwo Cabrio from 2016 is the most beautifully proportioned car from the last 10 years. Which actually makes sense, if you consider the precision that needs to go into each element of its design. In fact, many of the top 10 are fairly compact cars – perhaps linked to the designers’ need to work more carefully in a more limited space. 

The 10 least attractive cars of the 2010s, according to the Golden Ratio

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#626

2013

Ford Fiesta ST 

34.31%

#625

2019

Mercedes GLC 63 AMG Coupe

35.25%

#624

2012

Audi A1 Sportback 

35.48%

#623

2015

Audi RS7 Sportback 

35.54%

#622

2016

Ford Kuga Vignale

36.44%

#621

2013

Ford B-Max

36.89%

#620

2015

Audi S3 Saloon

37.08%

#619

2013

BMW 3 Series Touring 

38.12%

#618

2016

Ford Ka+

41.79%

#617

2017

Range Rover

42.07%

The humble Ford has not fared well in our design analysis, with four of its 2010 cars featuring in the bottom ten and the Ford Fiesta ST claiming the bottom position with just 34% conformity to the Golden Ratio. The Fiesta may have been the top-selling car of 2013, but the ST just doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to the science of aesthetics. 

The most beautiful car by year (2011 – 2019)

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#2

2011

Volkswagen Up

98.62%

#23

2012

Volkswagen Golf

98.15%

#8

2013

SEAT Leon

98.45%

#29

2014

Lexus RC F

98.08%

#11

2015

Audi TTS

98.37%

#1

2016

Smart ForTwo Cabrio

98.83%

#17

2017

Volkswagen Polo

92.23%

#6

2018

Suzuki Swift Sport

98.5%

#4

2019

Toyota Corolla Saloon

98.56%

When we looked at the data year by year, it’s clear that Volkswagen was really leading the way with its conformity to the Golden Ratio – its vehicles hit the top spot in 2011, 2012 and 2017.  

The most attractive cars of the 2010s by manufacturer, according to the Golden Ratio

So which manufacturers fared well in our data analysis? Below, we’ve taken a closer look at the top five most beautiful cars for Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Ford and Ferrari, to give us a spread of style and price and see who’s faring highest. 

Top 5 Volkswagen

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#2

2011

Volkswagen Up

98.62%

#7

2016

Volkswagen Tiguan

98.45%

#9

2018

Volkswagen Up GTI

98.44%

#17

2017

Volkswagen Polo

98.23%

#19

2017

Volkswagen Arteon

98.17%

Volkswagen cars from the 2010s seem to have really conformed to the Golden Ratio, with all of their top five hitting impressive scores of 98%, and all ranking in the top 20 of our list. 

Top 5 Mercedes-Benz

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#13

2018

Mercedes AMG C43 Saloon

98.36%

#14

2018

Mercedes AMG C43 Coupe

98.33%

#31

2016

Mercedes AMG E63 S Saloon

98.08%

#33

2016

Mercedes GLC Coupe

98.08%

#46

2015

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake 

97.95%

Mercedes-Benz also rated fairly highly – all of their top five most aesthetically pleasing cars from the 2010s appeared in the top 50 of our list, with percentage scores of around 98%. 

Top 5 Jaguar

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#20

2015

Jaguar F-Pace 

97.73%

#21

2013

Jaguar XF Sportbrake 

96.67%

#72

2014

Jaguar F Type Coupe 

96.65%

#76

2019

Jaguar XE

96.08%

#96

2015

Jaguar E-Pace

94.75%

Jags may be the UK’s favourite car brand, but their most beautiful model, the 2015 Jaguar F-Pace, only just made the top 20. Still, in general, they ranked pretty highly with the top five securing percentages in the mid-nineties. 

Top 5 Ford

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#95

2019

Ford Focus Vignale Estate

97.65%

#119

2015

Ford Edge 

97.42%

#135

2019

Ford Tourneo Courier

97.31%

#197

2013

Ford Fiesta 

96.67%

#200

2018

Ford Fiesta Active

96.67%

We already know that the Ford Fiesta ST ranked lowest out of all 626 vehicles featured in our list, and we can see from Ford’s top five that even their highest-scoring model only just scored in the top 100. 

Top 5 Ferrari

Beauty ranking (out of 626)

Year of Production

Make and Model

% of conformity to the Golden Ratio

#364

2017

Ferrari Portofino

92.03%

#539

2017

Ferrari 812

84.24%

#547

2016

Ferrari GTC4

83.03%

#556

2015

Ferrari 488

82.36%

Sporty Ferraris are often considered some of the most beautiful cars in the world, but not according to the Golden Ratio. Only four were released in the last decade, but all of these ranked extremely low when compared to most other models. 

So, how did your favourite car from the 2010s fare in our analysis? Do you agree? Head to our Twitter or Facebook and let us know what you think.

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