Monday, January 23, 2012

Copycat cars: Haven't I seen that design somewhere else?

Toyota Camry
Subaru Legacy
Look at the similarity of the taillights on the Legacy vs. the Camry...coincidence? Sometimes it's hard to conclude who is the innovator and who is the thief - cars are planned and designed years before we consumers see them, and often shrouded in secrecy. I wanted to point out a few more examples of copycats: design features that look all too similar. Click through for more.

Audi A4

Saturns were always a bit boring, but their one interesting design feature was the upward "swoosh" on the body cladding on the side profile, which became a continuing motif on most of their cars since the original SL1 in the early-90s. It's a pretty unique feature, so it immediately caught my eye when the latest Audi A4 incorporated the same "swoosh". Coincidence that Audi began using the design cue when Saturn began to see the end of its existence?

Mazda 6
Tesla Roadster
Toyota Corolla
One could argue that there are only so many possible taillight designs that meet regulatory safety standards and also look reasonably good. The clustered circle design is one that is used quite often. Cars from the Mazda 6, Toyota Corolla, and Tesla Roadster have used an iteration of this design.

Peugeot 407

Chrysler Sebring
Chrysler used the "gaping mouth" grille in the 90s, well before Peugeot began using it. Given Chrysler's relatively low penetration in the European market (vs. Peugeot's large presence), this act of copycatism isn't as heinous in my books.

Jaguar XF
Chrysler 300M
Flip the Chrysler 300M grille upside down, and what do you get? A Jaguar XF!

Mitsubishi Galant
Lexus ES
Here's a fun one - the Mitsubishi Galant, a dreadfully boring Hertz-special based on the Chrysler Sebring, received a new rear fascia in 2009, 3 years after the Lexus ES released a stunningly similar design. Lexus isn't known for stirring designs, so I'm not sure this was a great move for Mitsu.

Lexus RX
Hyundai Veracruz
Squint long enough, and you will easily mistake the Hyundai Veracruz for the Lexus RX. Intentional? I would think so. The Hyundai looks just a little blander, a little vaguer, and a little less refined...but at a $10k savings, who cares?

Buick Regal
BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe
As I mentioned in a previous post, BMW designers oddly stole a page from Buick's book when they borrowed the upward swoosh on the side of the Regal for the new 6-Series Gran Coupe. The swoosh looks great on the Regal, but is lost on the already-busy design of the 6 GC.


  1. Good roundup of look-a-likes. I'm glad you cleared up which came first - I never can tell. I just assume that the cheaper car is the knock-off.
    The Buick looks "stubby" compared to the lower, longer look of the BMW, but, I see the similarity.

  2. Hmmm. These cars are looking hot, though, I must admit, some of them do look a bit the same. In any case, I’m somewhat glad that my dream car is here: the Lexus ES fifth generation. I don’t know why, but the sight of it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. The first thing that attracted me about it is the chrome and wooden interiors of the car. I can imagine it must be relaxing to drive with that. Plus, it has voice-box recognition to make the driving experience more personalized. What else can you ask for?

    Erwin Calverley