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The Good The Bad, and The Ugly

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On: Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 4:40PM | By: John Welch

The Good The Bad, and The Ugly

Baaad Bad Ideas . . .

How many '86 Trans-Ams have you seen with one functioning headlight? Plenty, I'm sure. Pop-up headlights have always been a BAD idea. "Hey, instead of putting normal headlights on our auto, let's equip it with a set of overly complicated pneumatic headlights that will surely fail within the first five years of the car's life!!" I doubt they actually looked at it in that light; but geez, c’mon, why engineer a car with any system that may fail and ruin your ability to drive the car? On top of that, pop-up headlights are horrifically ugly. Fortunately, this pop-up phenomenon is basically dead, but the car industry is not free of bad ideas that will surely cripple certain automobiles over time. Nor is the industry free of gawd-awful ugly design. We explore an example of both...

The Jaguar XF is a very attractive car. It is most certainly the nicest Jaguar ever to come out of Coventry. Oozing style and panache, this Jag is well worth its semi-steep price tag. Take a look at the dash on the new Porsche Panamera; the shape and style is apparently lifted straight from the XF. Porsche copying Jaguar?! That is not something I though I'd ever witness. Even if I were able, I still wouldn't buy an XF. There are two minor yet possibly catastrophic reasons: the shifter mechanism and the glove-box mechanism. Let's tear apart the shifter first . . . Image: Orange Arrow: Hockey Puck Shifter. Green Arrow: Touch Sensitive Glove Box

Take a look at the image featuring my patented "Obnoxious Arrows". Notice how the 'hockey puck' (a term I must admit is lifted from Car and Driver's Mark Gillies), sits flush with the rest of the console. Now glance at the other image of the center console, the shifter has been depressed, causing it to creep skyward, allowing you to manipulate your gear selection. Take that in for a second . . . hhmmm, there appears to be a cup holder right behind the shifter. Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we ALL released the contents of a beverage (by accident, of course,) on our dash and center console, at least once? This is just me, but I usually consume coffee and/or sody-pop while driving. When these drinks spill, the clean up is 'sticky' at best. The liquids make their way into every single crack and crevasse in my interior. I don't think that screwy shifter is hermetically sealed, thereby leading me to believe that a spilled soft-drink might spell the end of shifting out of Park for any XF owner. Not only will the shifter get sticky and refuse to rise from the console, I imagine there is a risk of damaging electronics; rendering the device useless whether it refuses to ascend or not.

The glove box could end up creating an even more grave situation. There is no mechanical latch on the glove box, just a touch sensor. I have never trusted any sort of touch-activated device. My irrational fear of the police does not help either. I can see it now. My 510 horse Jag XFR just won't stop tempting me with the illicit pleasures offered by its skinny pedal. Suddenly, and without my permission, I'm bombing down Interstate Four at a very illegal clip. Naturally, just as I take a peek at the speedometer, my rearview mirror explodes with angry red and blue lights. Shucks. I pull over and work up a serious flop-sweat as the trooper makes his way to my driver-side window. Keeping one hand on his Glock, the nice officer requests my license and registration. "No problem, Officer," I sheepishly reply as I reach for the glove box. Unfortunately my glove box is operated by British-come-Indian electronics . . . and it refuses to open. I just got clocked at 125 mph, in a 75. "Uhm, my glove-box won't open," is not a response this trooper is going to accept. So, do we locate a screwdriver and pry the box open? I will if I want to avoid jail. Actually, in Florida, I think forty-over is a guaranteed trip to the pen . . . but you see my point?

Acura Guillotine/Cheese Grater Grille

Now I know we Americans love our chrome. Well, you do; I do not. Apparently Honda thinks we can't get enough chrome. They've taken a stable of reasonably attractive automobiles and defiled them. ALL of them. First this abomination shows up on the Acura TL. Hideous. Then it makes its way to the MDX, which had previously featured a grille of similar design, though much more staid and reserved. Now they've gone and screwed up two models that I actually really like, the TSX and RDX. What focus group told those wacky Honda designers that this is what we want? I've been blinded by an oncoming Acura's grille reflection twice this week. Immediately following the awful glare, I was then double-blinded by the mere sight of this awful slab of 'shiny' plastic.

Is this supposed to be some samurai-influenced means by which to force your affluence on fellow motorists? Do you stick the necks of malcontents between your bumper and radiator in order to relieve them of their heads with your newly purchased guillotine-equipped rice rocket? Can I save money by buying my cheese in enormous Costco-sized blocks, avoiding the mark-up placed on shredded cheese? I really, sincerely hope these cars are unsuccessful, and that customer surveys point towards the terrible, brand wide boomerang grille.

Next time, "How long will the Hyundai Genesis dash leather last in the Florida sun?" also, Mazda's "Anime Smile on Crack" design language...

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