MARK TAKAHASHI: Here at Edmunds, we put an emphasis on objective data and testing to determine where a vehicle places in its class. But let's face it, cars are an emotional purchase for a lot of shoppers, and appearances do indeed matter. I mean, there aren't any second generation Pontiac Aztecs out there, right? In this video, I'll be going over what I personally consider the most recent and notable redesigns. Some are hot. Some are not.
These are my opinions, based on my history in design and automotive, so I know there will be some disagreements. Let us know what you think in the comments below. But let's keep it civil, shall we? Before we jump into the design, do me a favor. Hit Like and Subscribe below, and head over to edmunds.com/sellmycar to get a cash offer on your vehicle.
First up, the BMW 8 Series. The original 8 Series ran throughout the '90s, and yes, I freaking love them. The classic proportions with fresh styling made this coupe stand out from anything else. And I coveted these, even if they didn't have a V12. The pressure was definitely on for the 2019 revival, and I think they absolutely nailed it.
Now, looking at the side profile here, it's got this beautiful, long hood and short, little stubby tail, suggesting forward motion and more power than a normal hood can contain. The widened BMW kidney grilles here blend well into the headlights for a cohesive face. And the many surface embellishments managed to both slim down the body and add some visual weight wherever it's needed.
Now, you can see here, with all these surface treatments, how some of these outward curves, these convex curves, catch the light and reflection. Meanwhile, further down on the bottom here, you get these kickouts that cast some shadow and add some weight. It's a trick that car designers have been using ever since cars were invented.
It's a sexy coupe with the presence of its predecessor without being beholden to it. This isn't some retro revival. It's a logical continuation just two decades later. While I appreciate that the BMW 8 Series got away from the retro side and is its own thing, this next one is firmly in the retro revival camp. But keeping a foot in the past didn't compromise on modern sensibilities.
The Ford Bronco is one of my favorite redesigns in the last few decades. And I'm talking the big Bronco, not the Sport. Let's just pretend that doesn't exist for now, OK? At first glance, the Bronco looks like a pretty blatant copy of the original. And I'm usually opposed to that. The thing is, these styling cues serve a legitimate purpose. And to me, that's just smart design.
For example, the little peak that runs from the front to the rear, right here on the fender, gives the driver a visual indicator of where the corners are. And that's vital when you're navigating really tricky terrain. Then there's the modular construction that allows you to quickly remove or replace body panels and fenders. It allows owners to easily customize their Bronco to their heart's content, even down to the retro-themed grille. We have a Bronco on order for our long-term fleet, and I can't wait to spend some more time with it and come up with some cool customization ideas.
Our next redesign is also retro-inspired, but it doesn't take it nearly as far as the Bronco. The Land Rover Defender certainly keeps some styling cues from the original boxy Defender, but it gives a more modern look with rounded over corners and a lot more tech. Like the Bronco, the Defender's footprint is largely dictated by its off-road purpose, these short overhangs and elevated ride height, especially.
The flat slab sides of the original Defender are represented by the vast expanses of sheet metal but are broken up by these blended fenders. Now, in pictures, these fenders might seem a little too soft for a rugged offroader like this. But in person, I assure you, it looks appropriate. Up front, the grille retains hints of the old Defender, with its upright and rectangular grille, with a suggestion of these upright push bars, too.
I also like the cut-off headlights that add a little bit of sinister look and aggression. It's almost like those aftermarket Wrangler headlight trims or a Dodge Challenger. Further back, I'm still perplexed by this trim panel behind the door. It seems oddly out of place.
I do love these alpine windows that are another nod to the past. If it we're up to me, I'd add more prominent tow hooks up front and back, not just to make it look tougher, but also because having those recovery hooks readily available is always helpful when you're in the thick of it. Also I'd stick with a painted steel wheels because steelies are cool.
The Kia K5 is a clean sheet redesign with no previous design language that it had to adhere to. Now, some of you may ask, is it a redesign then? Sure, because I count it as the successor to the Optima, which I also liked on a design level. Compared to other family sedans in the class, it stands out, with its aggressive appearance, where rivals tend to be a lot more vanilla.
In the main review of the K5, I called it Charger-like, and here's what I meant. The K5 is way more sporty and aggressive than something like a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. That aggression is compounded by the thin grille that cuts off the top of the headlights for more sinister stare, just like the Defender and Challenger. I'd consider a simpler accent-like shape than the zigzag, but it is distinctive at night.
Then there's the fastback roofline. A lot of sedans adopted the coupe-like roofline with mixed results. But I feel like the K5's lends it a more sporty silhouette, a lot like the Stinger. I mean, you can see how it just gracefully arcs from back to front like that. And at the same time, it lengthens the car visually, at least, and gives it a lot more presence. Even though these sedans aren't as popular these days, this is quite the looker. There's a reason it was named Edmunds Top Rated Sedan of 2020.
Looking quite a bit further in the future, we have the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, the spiritual successor to the iconic VW Microbus. The simple, rounded shape drives that point home, as does a striking, two-tone paint scheme. This is one of those design projects that seems pretty easy, since the original was so elemental.
But I'm also sure that there was a lot of ways they could have messed it up. I maybe would have added some alpine windows here to give it more of a connection to that '23 window bus. But overall, I think it honors the old while embracing the new. I think the VW ID. Buzz has the charm and potential to appeal to both boomers and Gen Z-ers.
And now, onto some redesigns I'm not so hot on. I mean, to me, these are almost like botched plastic surgery [COUGHS] Mickey Rourke. If you ask me, the new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 have lost something in the last restyle. Some of the sharp body creases and subtle design flourishes have disappeared. The more rounded nose seems less sport to me. And overall, it looks a little heavy.
I see hints of the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti in the front end, which would be a compliment if I like the Scaglietti. But I don't. Look at the front. It's kind of puffy, right, almost like a squirrel with nuts stuffed in his cheeks, or maybe it's retaining water.
In any case, I don't think it's an improvement over the first generation. Then there's the back end. It's a little disjointed for my taste. And those tail lights look like they've been pilfered off of an old Acura. But hey, at least they got rid of the fake vents.
When Nissan announced a new Z, I was hoping for something significantly different from the last generation, especially since that old model had been kicking around for more than a decade. Instead, we got something with a silhouette that looks eerily similar to the previous generation, with some retro-styling cues that seemed forced.
Let's start with the grille. I know they're paying homage to the previous generations rectangular grille, but there's some weirdness going on. I mean, first, I think it's just way too big. And it's further accentuated by this weird split level, where you have a grille shape followed by just some slats and a forward radar underneath. It's just not very graceful.
The original Z had a lot more grace, with its narrower grille that was framed better with the headlights. I do like how they blacked out this roof pillar here that gives it a wrap-around windshield look. Then there are the tail lights that seem as though they belong on another car. They just don't blend well with the rest of the car.
And this gloss, black surround does it no favors. Yeah, so for me, Zed's dead, baby.
BUTCH: Zed's dead.
MARK TAKAHASHI: A new Mercedes-Benz SL is also on the way. But this time around, it's the Mercedes-AMG SL. No surprise then, that the front end looks like the AMG GT, which is one of my favorite sports cars. And I'm sure I'd be fine with that if there were a more traditional SL that wasn't AMG'd. To me, the SL should be more refined, more classy. The whole thing seems too similar to the AMG GT.
And yeah, I'm going to sound like old man Takahashi here. But it looks too racy for a gentleman's drop top-- or ladies-- I'm not discriminating here. It could be as easy as swapping out the AMG grille for something that aligns more with the non-AMG Mercedes. Now further back, the deck lid tapers down a little bit too much for me, making it look a little weak and maybe a little bit too bulbous, almost like a Porsche 928 or something.
And now for the next big thing in EVs-- and I do mean big. I'd have to say that this Hummer could stand to lay off the carbs for a little bit. The styling almost makes it seem bigger, with huge, chunky elements that suggest it was carved from a solid block. Up front, the grille has some hints of past Hummers. But to me, it looks more at home on the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Below that, the blacked out lower portion creates the illusion that it's riding even higher than it already is. Now, I do like it in some ways, probably because it looks like it belongs in that cyberpunk video game. But the scale and heaviness really make me think that it's trying just too hard to compensate for an owner's shortcomings.
Oh, and you knew this was coming. And it proves that I'm not loyal to any one brand. In direct contrast to the BMW 8 Series, the BMW M3 is shamelessly ugly up front. That grille, why? Is it going for the big, nostril look like the pigs in Angry Birds? [OINKS] Squeal, piggy, piggy, piggy, piggy.
It looks like robot butt cheeks.
Even worse, it seems to be spreading. You can see an even worse execution on BMW's new EVs, the i4 and iX. That's really too bad because the rest of the car looks good. Ignoring that grille, if you can for a second, it has all of this great, sharp styling and these sharp creases on the body that really break up some of the monotony of the body. And it just has that traditional M3 stance that looks like it will just tear up any racetrack. So yeah, everything but the face.
So that's my list for the most notable, recent redesigns. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I know you're not going to agree with everything I say, but there's got to be some nugget of truth to this, right? Thanks for watching, and head over to edmunds.com/sellmycar to get a cash offer on your vehicle and also check out all the latest news, reviews, and information on any of these cars and their competition.