What started it all? The original Porsche Cayenne? What is it with cars that are seemingly, wilfully ugly; designed to shock, to have presence, but not to have grace or easy proportions?
Because it has become a thing. Of recent times, there is the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the Bentley Bentayga, the McLaren Senna, and now the BMW X7 and McLaren Speedtail. All are designed to make you stop, take stock and go ‘hmm’; but they are not, I don’t think, things that make you go ‘phwoar’.
I’ve come to think this is now deliberate, that the plan with cars like these and others was never to make them great looking in the first place; although if you saw some early sketches of a Rolls Cullinan in profile, with four simple sweeping lines, you might think that in the interim there was a terrible misjudgment.
But it can’t be, can it? The BMW X7 can’t have got to the finished stage without somebody sticking their hand up in the thousands of meetings that must have taken place in the past four years, and saying: “Um, chief. I hesitate to say it but isn’t this, y’know… a bit of a munter?”
The only conclusion I can reach, then, is that perhaps, in an increasingly homogenised and ever-more densely populated world of cars, giving vehicles an outlandish appearance, or caricaturing brand features onto them whether they quite fit or not, is just a way of trying to inject some extra character. It’s a way of making quite sure someone knows exactly what the car is.