Pontiac Solstice Coupe

There's a problem with convertibles. Unless you live where it's always warm, you can count on having the top up most the time. Most convertible soft tops in the up position leave much to be desired when it comes to sex appeal. The Solstice didn't fare much better. While the two humps behind the headrests looked cool with the top down, this forced the soft top to be oddly shaped and ended up looking like it didn't fit quite right.

Much like the Z3 coupe and the Z4 coupe, the hardtop changes everything, but it still has a removable targa top. That's the best of both worlds. Pontiac 1, BMW 0. The shape is instantly classic, reminiscent of the Jaguar E-type, but instead of having a British flare, it has a hot rod attitude, truly embracing Pontiac's "driving excitement" slogan. There's one design element that really exemplifies this attitude: the side windows. They look chopped. No one else can own that look. It is very American, and very hot rod. You might as well be driving the Batmobile (Micheal Keaton) as far as visiblity goes, but this blog isn't about ergonomics, it's about aesthetics, and this thing is pretty. That forward slopping line is what separates the Solstice from other "cute" convertibles.

On to the criticisms, I would have liked to see the third brake light integrated into the spoiler. Speaking of the spoiler, I like it from the side view, but not the rear 3/4 view. Other than that, the car looks great from every angle. Unless it's yellow. In which case, it's best viewed from below. Or at night. In a dark alley.

I am really impressed by this fine example of American design. It's not trying to be Japanese or European, and even more impressively, it's not retro. Yet, it embodies the elements of what makes our retro hot rods so appealing. It's raw. It's aggressive. It's unapoligetic. It's driving excitement.


2010 Toyota Prius. Not just for hippies.

The Toyota Prius is the world's first and most popular hybrid vehicle despite looking like a hybrid vehicle. Of course, when you drive a hybrid, you want all of your friends to know. That's an easy task if your car is the Prius. Perhaps the only car that's better at making ugly hip, was the Honda Insight with it's futuristic rear wheel skirts.

The blessing in disguise here is that despite it being such an ugly car, it's the most easily recognized hybrid on the market. So why would Toyota want to change that?

The 2010 Prius does a pretty good job at both pushing for a more pleasing design, and keeping it recognizable to it's core market. They have chiseled the edges at the front and back and sculpted a nice aggresive line from front to back. The wheels fill the wheel wells better than before, and help the proportions dramatically. The A piller dives into the headlights, and the C piller wraps around the taillight nicely, making the car look shorter in height by flattening the appearance of the roofline. The cockpit is really futuristic looking. It still looks like a concept car inside. If Han Solo was sitting in a Prius, it would have been way more convincing than all of those blinking lights in the Millenium Falcon.

The Prius has grown out of it's awkward teenage years. The subtle tweaks to the Prius this year have transformed the Prius into a great looking hatch that happens to get close to 50mpg.


Pontiac G8. A worthy sports sedan

Pontiac is driving excitement. Well, it's been a while since it's lived up to it. Remember, this blog isn't about horsepower or handling. It's about design. Simply, a product's aesthetic should clearly represent it's intended purpose. A sports sedan should NOT look like a jelly bean on wheels. Fortunately, the G8 does not look like a jelly bean.

The GXP model shown above as well as the GT, have a very aggressive front end. It keeps the standard Pontiac "kidney grille" and surrounds it with narrow blacked out dual headlights. The top and bottom of the inner lights are cropped just enough to give them a menacing look. The front wheels are very close to the nose, and the flared fenders hug the perfectly sized wheel and tire combination. The rear of the car is also well designed. While some might say the little tiny round taillights are a little quirky, I think it's a bold step in the right direction for the Pontiac aesthetic. Well done with the subtle spoiler too. Someone had to sneak an unnecessary detail in there though. It just wouldn't be a Pontiac without an unnecessary detail. The hood scoops. Ugh. We all know they're fake. They're well placed, but I just think it would have looked a lot less cluttered without them.

Remember when all Pontiacs had "guard rails" on the side. It seems like it took forever for them to finally let them go. Less is more. That's what I always say.* I'm glad to see Pontiac make something sportier by making it simpler.

*Except when more is more. As in horsepower.

Porsche Panamera.

Happy New Year everybody! With the economy the way it is, I figure I should go buy a practical sports car. You know, one with four doors. Okay, that's a lie. Even if it wasn't, I wouldn't buy the Porsche Panamera. Maybe it sounded like a good idea to take a 911 and just make it longer, but the result looks more like a Photoshop than the real deal.

The front is right on brand. You really can't argue with an aesthetic that Porsche has been pulling off for over 50 years. However, it really falls apart in the back. They got so caught up trying to make it look like a Porsche, that they made it look like, well, a Porsche. But not in a good way. It reminds me of seeing a knock off of your favorite mp3 player at Linens 'N Things. In contrast, the BMW four door M3, the Aston Martin Rapide concept, as well as the Lamborghini four door concept all fit well within the brand's line-up.

I think Porsche may be a one trick pony. That's not a bad thing if you're the best at what you do. So just keep designing the best looking mid/rear engine sports cars out there and quit diluting your brand with stuff like this.