Luxury SUV – These 10 Cars Were Ugly As Sin… But They Packed A Serious Punch
As everyone will tell you, design is a very important part of building an automobile, perhaps extra important when making a sports car. It takes up a huge chunk of the R&D budget, and in a lot of cases, it quite literally sells the car. Just look at crossover SUVs. Another important part of car design is that the exterior should reflect what the car can do and in what way it should be appreciated.
Indeed, a lot of cars are very indicative of the type of experience that they’re offering; luxury sedans are stately and subtle, and obviously luxurious, supercars are very flashy and pointy and so on, and every automaker puts in significant effort to make their cars as attractive as possible. But sometimes, the exterior doesn’t tell the whole story; some cars are incredibly ugly, but can still tear your face off at speed.
10 Gumpert Apollo
The recent Apollo Intensa Emozione definitely grabbed the attention of the media and enthusiasts alike, because it was just so outlandish. Around a decade ago, former director of Audi Sport, Roland Gumpert, founded the Gumpert sports car company, and made headlines in 2008 with the Apollo.
Many would agree that the Apollo, outlandish and insane though it may have been, wasn’t exactly beautiful. Everything that was on the Apollo was designed to be functional aerodynamics, and it seemed to have worked, as it set a record on the Top Gear Test Track. Power came from Audi’s 4.2 liter FSI V8, which was then twin turbocharged to give three power outputs at the customer’s choosing; from 650 hp, to 700, to 800 hp.
9 Lamborghini Veneno
Lamborghini has made a lot of fantastic automobiles over the years, but the Aventador seems to be the darling of the brand. Not to the enthusiasts and customers, but to Lambo’s engineers themselves, as they have repurposed the Aventador platform for special edition cars several times over the past decades.
The first repurposed Aventador special edition was the Veneno, which arrived in 2013. The Aventador is a beautiful car with a timeless design, but the Veneno threw all of it away in favor of one of the most opinion-splitting exteriors in supercar/hypercar history. Built to celebrate Lambo’s 50th anniversary, the Veneno bumped up the power from the 6.5 liter V12 to 750 hp. Only three Venenos were delivered to customers and an additional nine Roadster models were also built. Current market value is an eye-watering $8 million.
8 Honda Civic Type R (FK2)
One of the best modern hot hatchbacks was never sold in North America. The FK2 Civic Type R was introduced in 2015, and exterior styling alarm bells were ringing all over the world. The preceding Type R generations were relatively subtle, but the FK2 laughed in the face of subtlety.
Everything about the FK2 Type R was pure, unadulterated excess; from the ridiculous flared arches, to the massive front bumper, to the visibility-destroying rear wing. Underneath the garish exterior, the FK2 was the first Type R to use forced induction, resulting in a 100+ hp increase over the previous FN2 to 306 hp. It was also absolutely brilliant to drive.
7 Bentley Bentayga Speed
Though it may be a difficult pill to swallow, SUVs are keeping small volume automakers like Bentley relevant and afloat in today’s car market. The problem with ultra-luxury SUVs like this is that they rarely get the exterior styling right (see Rolls Royce Cullinan), and the Bentley Bentayga is no exception.
Don’t get us wrong, the Bentayga is a seriously impressive SUV, but it’s just not the most sightly thing to behold. The Bentayga Speed further reinforces that by adding a substantial body kit and a huge roof spoiler. Still, the Bentayga is not an SUV to be messed with; the 6.0 liter twin turbo W12 produces 626 hp, propelling this 5,400 lb SUV from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 190 mph.
6 Chevrolet HHR SS
The early 2000s were a truly magical time for the automotive industry, but not necessarily in a good way. This was especially true in the United States, where automakers were milking the retro styling cow, with the Chrysler PT Cruiser leading the way.
General Motors wanted a slice of the PT Cruiser action, so they responded in the most General Motors way possible; they hired the designer of the PT Cruiser, Bryan Nesbitt, to design a Chevrolet model that would compete with the PT Cruiser. The end result was the Chevy HHR, and while it was pretty ugly, it was a decent car. The HHR SS was a serious performance hatchback, with 260 hp from its 2.4 liter Cobalt SS-sourced 4-cylinder engine.
5 Volkswagen Touareg R50
After the scandal called Dieselgate, which you may have heard of, Volkswagen has activated full damage control mode, and are currently investing huge money into EV infrastructure and development into EV powertrains. Rewind the clock to 15 years ago, however, and the whole picture was different.
While Volkswagen in the 2020s is looking at every possible way to steal sales from Tesla, Volkswagen in the 2000s was competing with itself in designing the most ridiculous cars and powertrains that anyone could (or rather, couldn’t) possibly think of. The Touareg R50 was a perfect example; it used a 5.0 liter V10 which ran on diesel. It allowed this big SUV to reach 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, and according to the TV ads, tow a Boeing commercial airliner.
4 Jaguar S-Type R
Jaguar has a very similar story to VW. The brand is currently looking to re-invent itself as a luxury EV manufacturer, but back in the 2000s, they were really, really stubborn about retro styling. This extended to the S-Type mid-size luxury sedan, which was inspired by the magnificent Mark II.
Unfortunately, the Mark II’s styling was very 60s, and it didn’t translate well to the S-Type R, possibly earning it the distinction of being the ugliest modern Jaguar. Still, the meaty R version has 406 hp from its 4.2 liter V8, and it can put a smile on your face in the corners as much as any other Jaguar can.
3 BMW iX
After the failure of the BMW i3 and BMW i8, and with rivals slowly starting to close in, BMW is getting very serious about putting together a new electric car lineup. Their first serious all-electric model, and one that isn’t based on an existing car, is the iX.
It was revealed in late 2020 and was immediately lambasted by just about everyone for its extremely polarizing styling. It seems as though someone forgot to tell BMW that electric cars don’t need a grille at all, let alone giant kidney “grilles” like the iX has. The side profile, unpainted cladding and blue accents don’t help matters either. Amazingly, the criticism towards this car started a social media tirade that will probably go down in the history books. Still, the iX’s performance looks promising, with the most powerful version delivering 496 hp. The M version should have even more than that.
2 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS
Replacing the Traverse, Chevy’s Trailblazer mid-size SUV arrived in 2001. It borrowed a lot of styling cues from Chevy’s full-size SUV of the time, the Suburban and the Tahoe, meaning that the Trailblazer wasn’t exactly a looker, especially in basic form.
In order to make the Trailblazer more approachable, Chevrolet started offering the SS in 2006, and it marked the first time an SUV wore the SS badge in Chevrolet’s lineup. Power came from a 6.0 liter LS V8 with 400 hp, lowered suspension and better tires, as well as a 4.10 differential for better off-the-line acceleration. It was available in RWD or AWD, and they’re trading for surprisingly good prices on the used market.
1 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
Before the GTC4Lusso and before the FF, if you wanted a V12-powered Ferrari with four seats, the 612 Scaglietti was your only option. The moment the Scaglietti arrived in 2004, it was heavily criticized for its rather unusual styling.
The front headlights were deemed too small, whereas the wheelbase and the tiny rear lights made the car look very disproportionate. It was still a Ferrari, though, so there was no messing around in terms of the performance; a 5.7-liter V12 engine delivered 540 hp to the rear wheels, all while being able to transport four passengers and their luggage, which isn’t something that can be said of most Ferraris.
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Luxury SUV – These 10 Cars Were Ugly As Sin… But They Packed A Serious Punch
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