Things are getting out of hand with these wing sizes, folks.
There's no gentle way to say this, so I'll just come right out and drop the bomb: Massive rear wings are ugly as hell and need to go. Now before you freak out, let me explain my stance because I don't feel this way about all comically large rear wings. What a high schooler chooses to put on the back of his Acura Integra is dude's own business. What I take issue with are automakers forcing drivers to tote around a large wing on the back of their performance-oriented cars. The Subaru WRX STI, Ford Focus RS and upcoming Honda Civic Type R are all guilty of this.
Okay, the Focus RS isn't as bad as the other two but its wing is still much too large for me. Now these are all cars that we have gushed over here at CarBuzz, and rightfully so. They are fast and look damn good, for the most part. They are even practical to a degree, with four doors and room for some stuff. However, the oversized rear wings on them are unnecessary for a few reasons, the first being that the performance increases they add are negligible to most drivers. The biggest argument in favor of rear wings is that they increase performance. However, do you know how that performance increase comes about? It's via added downforce.
Here's an awesome explanation of how airfoils (aka wings) increase downforce and the difference between them and spoilers, courtesy of Quora user Ryan Carlyle. In his explanation, Carlyle notes that "airfoils add drag, reducing your top speed and top-end acceleration. But at high speeds, they push the car down and add traction so you can turn faster." Yes, you can execute tight turns quicker thanks to the massive rear wing on your WRX STI, but honestly, how often are you making turns at speed when a top lap time or a pole position is on the line? People buy these cars for their performance capabilities but the majority of owners will never see or notice the benefits these massive rear wings bring.
What will be noticed is how out of place an adult looks driving a car with a massive wing. Make no mistake, these cars are targeted at adults. Just look at the prices they are going for! Now there's nothing wrong with a family man or woman tearing around town in a performance-oriented, turbocharged four-door, but is subtlety worth nothing nowadays? Why design a car for an adult that screams "boy racer?" Some people need to justify these purchases to their spouses after all! Nothing says mid-life crisis like a Honda Civic with a giant wing. People will say that these cars aren't targeted at the masses, and with the exception of the STI they're right. Still, why gimp a wider roll out down the road by sticking an offensively large airfoil onto the rear end?
The solution to this crisis is simple: Make these things optional. If someone wants to pay extra for a bit that looks like it belongs on a Boeing 737 than so be it. If automakers still insist on going through the Boeing parts bin then a happy compromise would be to make wings smaller. One last thing: Notice I didn't list certain cars, such as the Dodge Viper ACR or the awesome Aston Martin Vulcan, here. Why? Because, they are designed for tracks and the dumb wings they sport serve a real purpose. The WRX STI, Focus RS and Type R aren't dedicated track cars. So before you go freaking out about how awesome gigantic wings are, remember that they make you look stupid and don't help you get from A to B (or the track) any faster.