A Picture and Some Questions

A while back I alleged that, if nothing else, the mainstream saloon had more visual variety than that found among C-class family hatches.

Top selling saloons and others
Top selling saloons and others

A recent bit of news concerning Volkswagen’s Phideon saloon led me to put that in with seven other medium sized cars. See how many you can identify. How different are they? And which one stands out? Doesn’t the Phideon look a lot like a BMW 5-series proposal? Can you tell which one is the Phideon?

[Photo sources: Autocar, caranddriver, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford, Renault]

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

13 thoughts on “A Picture and Some Questions”

  1. Without doubt the Merc is the most easily identifiable followed by the Opel. The blandest is a toss up between the Audi and the VW.

    1. At a distance both the Opel and Benz stand apart. That blade-effect on the Opel does its job. If I had been more scientific I’d have used the same colour on all the cars. Ford’s Mondeo loses in this photoset. The Talisman is the Renault, bottom left. The Phideon is right, third down.
      BMW’s hofmeister kink is the only BMW -ish element on the 3’s profile: Opel, VW and Ford have something like it.

  2. The Phideon (an unfortunate name that contains many of the same letters in the same order as the word “hideous”) is above the Audi. I struggled to identify the bottom left car, but the unfortunately headlight/sidelight arrangement and the rear hip bulge lead me to believe it’s the new Megane. Did I get it right?

    I’ve no idea what the top left car is, but I’d put money on it coming from Japan or Korea.

    It’s interesting to me how an aggressive wedge shape (low front/high tail) is no longer a given. The Mercedes, Audi and to a lesser extent the Ford all have feature lines that gently droop towards the rear as older cars used to. Personally I still prefer a nose-down stance.

    1. Talisman, not Megane, I think. The hip-bulge really looks contrived. The Insignia looks quite fine amongst this lot; I fear about the new one …

  3. SV: yes, the Insignia holds its own. I eat humble pie on that score as I disliked it at first. I’ll have to wait to see the new one. Despite my reservations, the new Astra stands out among the other cars in its class and makes me think “Citroen” in a good way. What we think of as an Insignia is now a GM world car but unlike the Mondeo I think it starts life in Europe and gets revised elsewhere. The new Buick Lacrosse is getting good notices and guess what: it has two suspension options. One is nice/normal and the other sportier. Maybe Opel can do the same here.

    1. Not so happy with the latest Astra – I was happier with its predecessor (I don’t like the faff around the rear pillars). The current estate is worse still when its predecessor was a very fine thing.

  4. The top left one is a Corolla sedan. I’ve yet knowingly to see one in the metal plastic and glass, but I’m sure it’s better than the revolting new Honda Civic sedan. I saw it in Paris last weekend and its only virtue is that it makes the new 5 door look slightly less bad.

    The Corolla resembles – I’m sure it’s coincidental – the MG Magnette, not the Palmer or Pininfarina one, but a re-badged Roewe 550 sold in tiny numbers by MG Motor UK Ltd.

  5. The Phaidon is a handsome looking thing, and huge – as far as I can work out it’s based on the Audi A6L version of the MLB platform.

    Perhaps it could find success beyond China as a Škoda. I’d call it the Superb 3000 / 4000, or possibly Praha or Moravia. If you think that’s mad and stupid, remember how the first Superb, a Czech-built version of the SAIC-VW LWB Passat B5 was ridiculed. Even VAG were determined to drop it after one generation, until they looked at the numbers, and Škoda’s business case won through.

  6. As a car design lover since childhood it’s saddening to me that in recent years there has been a shift towards cookie-cutter design. The mainstream car makers are indeed more prone to it. Notice the ubiquitous slightly rising third window on countless sedans from Hyundai to Ford via Honda and Renault. There seems to be this shift toward a more globalised design, erasing all the local specificities that made cars look European, Asians or Americans. The profile of the Renault Megane IV, the 2019 Toyota Corolla/Auris and the Kia 2018 Picanto look like they were approved by the same people at the same focus group for example.

    1. There’s always been a tendency for car designs from a particular period to look alike. At the moment the phenomenon is more pronounced. That large saloons seldom appear in colours other than black, grey and white worsens this. An A6 in bordeaux metallic looks a lot more distinctive than one on black.

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