Theme: Shutlines – Nose Jobs

Some manufacturers today use a large plastic moulding as a front mask that includes bumper as well as radiator grille. A solution I appreciate for its simplicity and which can be pleasing to look at – but beware the pitfalls!

2016 Jaguar XF (Jaguar)
2016 Jaguar XF (Jaguar)

Not long ago, we discussed an odd triangle, trapped between shutlines, panel folds and functional elements. The object in question was the 2014 Lexus IS’s rear door. I was reminded of this discussion when I saw a short article in my local newspaper about the new Jaguar XF. There it was again – between headlight, bonnet shutline and radiator bulge. What the above Jaguar press photo (!) also shows: it’s not easy to align large plastic and metal pieces. There is a visible offset between the bonnet and the front mask above the left headlight (as seen in the picture), and the shutline itself varies in thickness.

Another front mask example came to my mind. This one has bothered me since its appearance: the current BMW 3-series (F30).

BMW F30 (
BMW F30 (

First of all, the line between bonnet and front mask is too straight. It just doesn’t want to fit in with the very curved and dynamic shapes of the car. From the top, it looks as if the side and front line of the bonnet form a square shape that was accidentally cut off by the headlight. Add to this the line between the bumper and the wing which again seems to be unrelated to the other lines. At least they didn’t leave us with any unresolved triangles.

7 thoughts on “Theme: Shutlines – Nose Jobs”

  1. We can thank pedestrian impact legislation for the appearance and spreading of those shutlines, which definitely are among the more grating stylistic issues of current automotive design.

    While I can’t argue with Richard’s choice of examples, I’d – yet again, I’m afraid – rather single out Mercedes’ treatment of the W205 C-class’ nose as a challenger to the top post of the Shitty Shutlines Olympus.

    1. The Mercedes is a good bad example, too. Frankly, today’s Mercedes are so uninteresting for me and so horrible, I didn’t even take a closer look at this example before. Otherwise I could have included it as well.

  2. The major issue with this sort of bumper is a continual requirement to remove the whole sodding thing to get to radiator, ar con condenser, intercooler, oil coolers for power steering as well as other ancillaries like power steering hoses. They often use clips that don’t always want to go back in without a new clip etc etc etc. The regular removal leads to poor fitment in the long term.

  3. The BMW is offensive for the reason it leaves two lines from the bonnet meeting the headlamps upper edge. It would not be necessary if the bonnet included the grille as a minimum. I took a photo of this same feature a few weeks ago but never got around to using it for anything. While we´re looking at this car, does anyone think the extension of the headlamps to the grille is unhelpful?

    1. If the grille was wider the little tabs on the lamps could be removed. That still leaves the shutline running over the top. The design as it is is built around that. If you want to get rid of it, a lot of other things need to change too.

    2. It’s at least strange that headlight and “kidney” (that’s what the BMW grille halves are called in German, maybe you have a different word) of each side are connected, but there is still a strip of body colour running down in the middle. You don’t often see that car in a bright colour, in the usual greyscale tones it’s much less obvious.
      And while I’m not against the idea of letting the headlights flow into the grille, I’d have tried to achieve a smoother transition. As it is, there seems to be a dark gap between the chrome strip inside the lamp and the grille surrounding, and the glass also seems to have a different curvature than the chrome part (although that might be an optical illusion).

  4. The BMW is also know as the “kidney” grille though they stopped looking like kidneys at least fifteen years ago. I get the feeling this design was driven by difference for the sake of it .You are right that if the outer sides of the grille are not bounded by body colour it is odd to have some running down the middle.
    As it is, I don´t notice these cars. They don´t command my attention in the way some other, less “prestigious” cars do. I can´t be the only person who doesn´t see much about BMW that is prestigious. Two decades ago the owner of a Five had a car that was palpably unlike the mainstream makers. These days it´s even silly to call them “mainstream” when BMW outsell many of them. As we all know here, my hypothetical money on a brand new large car is placed on a full-fat Insignia with all the trimmings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: