Usually, facelifts are a great thing for a car to have done. Everyone loves an updated and new version of the car they already love, and quite often, a series of small changes can transform a car from good to great. There are some facelifts however, that appear to have gone so wrong that you wonder how they passed testing. Here are 7 facelifts that made the car worse! (in my opinion of course!)
1. Hyundai Tiburon
First launched in 1996, the Hyundai Tiburon was a sporty, if slightly bland coupe. Its front-wheel-drive underpinnings are hardly a recipe for driving pleasure, but you can’t deny that this generation is a good looking car. Surprisingly, its younger facelifted version didn’t follow in its footsteps, instead, transforming from a sleek coupe to a bug-eyed mess.
Underneath, both Tiburons are based on the rather dull Elantra platform, but the RD2 generation gained a set of headlights only a mother could love. While some people thought it looked like a fish, other thought it was like an insect. There aren’t many people around who thought this was a good thing in either case. Clearly, this refresh didn’t make sales history either, with Hyundai going back to a more traditional design for the generation 2 car, launched in 2001.
2. Fiat Multipla
Its one thing for a car to be weird, and another for it to be boring. Famously thought of as one of the ugliest cars in existence, the 1998 to 2003 Fiat Multipla was a quirky, if slightly misunderstood car. Its looks were never designed to wow people, however it did cut an interesting shape among the other boring boxes it was in competition with.
Unfortunately, in 2004 Fiat execs must have realised that weird doesn’t tend to sell very well and backed out of the interesting design completely. What was left in the generation two car was a boring box that lacked any redeeming features, which funnily, even less people seemed to want.
3. Subaru Impreza
The first generation Impreza was and remains somewhat of a style icon. With its famous rally wins and 90s box type styling, its no wonder its went down in the history books as a great car. Believe it or not, the first generation was launched in 1992, a whopping 25 years ago!
When the 2nd generation car was launched, despite having superior driving dynamics and technology, it failed to capture some of the magic of the original. Commonly nicknamed the bug-eye and then blob eye, this generation lacked some of the aggression and ruggedness that the first did so well. Fortunately, there was a third facelift in 2005 which brought back the mean look that we all love, nicknamed the hawk eye.
4. Honda NSX
This facelift didn’t exactly ruin the NSX as luckily it still looks good, but for the sake of regulation, Honda was forced to change the distinctive pop-up headlights to bog-standard fixed units. While they could have made them look a lot worse, the new lights fail to capture some of the magic that made the old one great. The facelift does make the car look more up to date, rather than being stuck in the early 90s, but which would you have? The old ones or the new? I don’t think I would turn down either to be honest!
5. Ford Scorpio
If you’re American, you may have never even heard of this car. For the rest of us however, the Scorpio was a large comfortable saloon and estate car, designed for cruising up and down the motorway. While the first generation car could never exactly be called handsome, its ordinary features were attractive enough. Not particularly offensive to anyone who likes cars.
When the second generation came out however, it caused quite a stir for motoring journalists and customers alike. Although hardly the voice of reason, Jeremy Clarkson wrote in The Times at the time that this car had “village idiot features” and a “loopy face”. Not exactly a compliment. Some cars get better with age, like the e60 5 series but the ford Scorpio really hasn’t. Also from the Top Gear line up, Richard Hammond and James May described it as ‘gopping’. Ford realised that they had perhaps gone too far and released an updated version in 1997. It didn’t exactly help that much, and the Scorpio was to be killed off a year later anyway.
6. Pontiac Sunfire
The 1995 – 2001 Sunfire could never be called a pretty car, but its looks were distinctive for sure and portrayed the sporting nature of the vehicle. The latest version 1 Sunfire was a good improvement, although with a slightly riced front bumper. The generation two car was a sign that the Sunfire was on its way out. The facelift model only lasted two years, primarily due to market demands but also the fact that the monoblock front headlight design didn’t go down well with customers. Their futuristic design language for this facelift was too much, too late, marking the end of the Sunfire for good. This design could have been popular in the late 90s, but in the early 2000s, it was just too weird for most!
7. Saab 9-5
Facelifts normally improve the car, often by changing a few little things at a time that add up in a big way. The original Saab 9-5 is a great looking car that’s obviously a Saab. The Saab 9-5 facelift in 2006 was downright weird though. Although the car had some positive changes such as the more up to date front bumper and grilles, it also gained what appeared to be a pair of glasses. The neat headlights were gone and were replaced with a slightly tacky chrome trim piece around the headlights and the grille. The Saab gained a more Germanic style to it, but perhaps left behind some of that true Saab character that we all love.
So there you are. Which cars did I miss? Let me know in the comments.