10 laws that make ugly cars

May 29, 2024 by

Laws are making cars uglier. Through the latest regulations – and how car designers and engineers make their cars to meet those regs – cars are sprouting features that do nothing to make them look good. Indeed they are making them ugly.

In this Carwow video we list 10 ways in which the law is making cars uglier.

  1. Autonomous emergency braking
  2. Wheel spats
  3. Door mirrors
  4. Sharp edges
  5. Rear lights
  6. Daytime running lights
  7. Pedestrian impact
  8. Grilles
  9. Aerodynamics
  10. Front number plates

10 Autonomous Emergency Braking

Autonomous emergency braking is a great safety feature and it has probably helped prevent thousands of accidents, which is why it’s now mandatory on all new cars.

But making it work usually involves a sensor box on the nose of the car. And they look rubbish. Audis look like undercover police cars, the Aston Martin DB12 looks like it has a split lip and the worst thing about all this is that the most expensive cars look the worst – the grille of the Mercedes AMG S63 looks like the heating thermostat from a rented flat.

But it’s about to get even worse. The safety regulations are about to get even stricter. This doesn’t just mean more ugly sensors – some cars are about to disappear completely. The Toyota GR86 will be gone – by the end of this year because Toyota doesn’t want to re-engineer the car to pass new updated regulations about advanced safety tech.

9 Wheel spats

The next regulation is the one that states wheels can’t be exposed beyond the edges of the bodywork.

So how do some car companies get around that? Not by making their cars a bit wider, that would be far too logical…

Instead they tack on these little plastic spats. You can see them on the likes of the Honda CR-V, the Skoda Enyaq, the Polestar 2, the MINI Countryman and the Volvo C40.

All these every-day cars have sprouted a horrible little nubbin on the back arch. But even something as lairy as the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ. This is already one of the widest cars ever made, and it STILL has little spats.

8 Door mirrors

The law says mirrors have to be of a minimum size and so we get Land Rover Defenders driving round with truck mirrors. And the Rolls-Royce Phantom looks like it’s got inflatable novelty golf clubs on its doors.

But this problem is even worse on smaller cars. The Fiat 500e is a very cool little car, except for the fact it looks like it has two blimps emerging from the sides.

Large door mirrors on the Fiat 500e

7 Sharp edges

In Europe we’re not allowed sharp edges in cars, which is why we’ll never officially get the Tesla Cybertruck unless Elon covers them all in pipe lagging.

But did you know the law even prohibits sharp edges on the back of cars? And that particularly affects exhausts for some reason. Whether it’s the tucked-away ‘real’ exhaust pipes on the new Mercedes AMG C63. Or the weird moulded-in pipes that aren’t exhausts at all, on the SEAT Leon.

Or the strangely bevelled exhaust tips that have appeared on cars from a MINI Countryman to an Aston DB12…

6 Rear lights

There’s another source of back-end ugliness that can be blamed on the law; lights.

Specifically, these fiddly, extra lights in bumpers that are there because the law says you have to be able to see the back lights at night even if the tailgate is open.

So we get stuff like the Mini Clubman, or the Audi Q7, or even the Bentley Bentayga.

There is an answer to this legal requirement. But it ain’t pretty.

BMW gave the iX a whole set of extra lights Inside the boot.

5 Daytime running lights

The law dictates that all cars have to have daytime running lights so car makers are scrambling to make their DRLs more and more distinctive. So we’ve got the Kia Niro with lights that look like mystery symbols off a scientific calculator. And the VW ID.4 with a thin bright strip across the entire nose. It’s like a ceiling light from your gran’s kitchen.

4 Pedestrian impact

Staying at the front of the car, pedestrian impact rules state that there has to be a minimum gap between the skin of the car and the hard bits beneath like the engine and bulkheads.

What that means in practise is the fronts of cars look like they’ve been on an extra-lard diet. And that’s not all. Now cars also need a cavity between the nose and the hard, metal radiator. You can see all this empty space when the light catches it.

3 Grilles

What else is the law ruining? Grilles. Although, not directly. There’s no actual law about grilles, otherwise we could make those light-up ones on the Skoda Enyaq and the Rolls-Royce Ghost illegal.

No, the law here is the one that’s going to ban internal combustion cars in many countries by 2035. And car makers are already getting in right tizz about how to hang on to their identities when all they make are EVs.

Apparently, the answer is badly-shaped fakes. Step forward the the Maybach EQS…

2 Aerodynamics

But actually, the problem is bigger than that. The laws that dictate how efficient our cars should be and what they run on is ruining the shapes of cars themselves…

So, in the name of aerodynamics, you get Mercedes EQE and EQS that look differently sized bars of soap. And the Tesla Model Y that looks like a giant computer mouse.

And, come to think of it, what about the laws governing safety and how far your head is from the top of the windscreen?

And how high your headlights are?

What does it give you? Generic shapes. Which is why lots of medium SUVs basically look the same. Audi Q5, Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga, VW Tiguan, I mean, they’re not exactly distinctive are they?

1 Front number plates

And finally, front number plates. Now in most countries they’ve been law for years. So how is it that car companies still seem so surprised by them?

They can’t think of a place to put them that doesn’t crash into some other design feature?

BMW do it, Aston do it, Alfa design cars around tiny Italian plates and forget that everyone else’s plates are bigger and look tacked on.

In fairness, maybe this one is more the designers’ fault? Or maybe it’s just yet another example of the law making cars uglier. There’s a lot of it about.

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