With smaller and more efficient engines becoming the norm these days, the amount of airflow required is less than ever before, leading to more real estate being freed up on the front bumper. Some manufacturers have had to change up their designs and come up with interesting ways to suddenly use this new space. Tesla vehicles have even gone away with the front grille completely, in favour of a smooth design thanks to the electric drivetrain. In combination with this, vehicles that look sporty, even if they aren’t necessarily fast, are growing in numbers every year. This has led to a massive increase in sports style cosmetic enhancements, without the performance upgrades. It was once the case that fake vents were added on after market, straight from a Chinese eBay store and stuck on to your riced vehicle with 3M tape. That being said, here are 5 Cars with air vents that seemingly appear to do absolutely nothing.
FK8 Civic Type R
There’s nothing wrong per say with fake air vents, but many car fans cant help but cringe at how far some manufacturers have taken it. The 1st generation Civic Type R has two small air intakes, both functional which provide more than adequate airflow for its 1.8 litre VTEC engine. The EP3 type R was very similar and it was only the FN2 where the front intake section grew. All of these vents are fully functional, perfectly matched with the decent performance of the cars. The FK2 Type R started the trend of fake vents on Honda vehicles, with both side grille sections seemingly doing nothing. Although slightly cringey, you could argue that it’s just somewhere to fit the front fog lights. The FK8 Type R has taken this a step further, with what looks to be about a square foot sized piece of solid plastic on either side of both the front and rear bumper! Sure, it may look cool to some but why not make it actually functional? Surely it doesn’t need more breathing capacity than a Nissan GTR with double the power and two more cylinders?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a vent is functional or not. On the Landrover discovery 2, it does appear as if the side vents do something, as you can see right through them. The new discovery does appear to be different though. Its quite clear by looking through the plastic mesh that there is simply nothing to see. Maybe to some, it could make the discovery look more sporty, but the discovery 1 looked fine without them and surely if you need them, why not make them do something, even if its an air conditioning intake or air clearance exit. It’s not the sportiest vehicle in the first place and it really has no need for this modification.
Chevy Spark EV
The good thing about electric vehicles is that front mounted vents will become a thing of the past, increasing efficiency by a huge amount, with a smooth front surface causing very little drag becoming the norm. At the moment however, electric vehicle makers are still putting fake air vents on their vehicles, presumably to win over buyers who currently have gasoline vehicles and don’t want to be scared away by a slightly strange looking front. This is actually a smart move from Chevy but I reckon on their next model the front grill may disappear altogether, similar to the way Tesla’s has on their latest model X. Still, its probably one of the most pointless grills ever to exist. The small middle part of the Chevy Sparks grille is functional some of the time, to cool the batteries when needed. Still, just the closed grille and flat underbody panels are thought to boost the range by 2.5 miles per charge compared to the gasoline model.
Its not just economy cars that have all the fake vents. Now, even one of Subaru’s best creations, the BRZ has them. Although fairly subtle, the plastic side vents don’t appear to do anything whatsoever. The BRZs brother the GT86 has much smaller slide vents which contain the opposing pistons emblem, still fake, but they are more styling pieces rather than vents. The RS 1.0 GT86 does have fake vents though, which are similar to the BRZ. It was once the case where fake vents were considered a ricers modification, but with more and more OEM examples coming out, perhaps its not anymore. A few users of the BRZ forum have attempted to remove them and replace them with genuine units, with mixed success.
Mini Cooper S
Despite being a great car, the Mini Cooper S still falls victim to the fake hood scoop. With its 1.6-liter four cylinder, using many of the same technologies from BMW engines, the Mini Cooper S pumps out a spritely 172 brake horsepower. Unlike the old Mini Cooper S, it gets a turbocharger instead of the supercharger which does let down the sound slightly, but the 2007 generation Cooper S is still a great car and a riot to drive. Turbo lag is minimal, due to the engine tuning and the transmission. The Cooper S looks cool with upgraded side skirts, front and rear bumper, interior and wheels. The hood is uprated from the standard Mini too, although when you stoop down to look through the rather playful hoodscoop, you simply see a wall of plastic in your immediate vision. There is some debate as to whether this does anything, but most Mini Cooper S owners suggest its just there for cosmetic reasons. Still, the fact it’s a great car makes up for this somewhat, but it does seem rather pointless to have that extra drag with no added benefit of cooling.
What is your opinion on them? Cool or cringeworthy? Let me know in the comments.