Most Impactful Cars Of The Last Decade: These Stylish Cars Changed Design Forever


Just like in high school, the strangest trends can influence everyone.

Design is hugely important in everyday life. It dictates everything from the mood of the user to the output of work, or at least that's what design students tell people to justify their degrees. The automotive designers that do make it big know just how large of a role that design plays in a car's success. Anyone doubting this needs to ask themselves how much they want a Pontiac Aztek. To find iconic forms for cars, designers need to draw lines that match aesthetic tastes and make them fit into a functioning car.

Sometimes, designs don't even need to look good to be successful, they just need to bring a new kind of functionality to sales floors that wasn't previously offered. An example of this is the crossover or CUV. SUVs were loved for their utility but their size made them a pain to drive around cities and rising gas prices meant that they became as logical as pouring thousand-dollar champagne on strippers. Clever designers penned new vehicles that mixed together an SUV, a minivan, and a car to get the perfect combination of utility, parking lot prowess, agility, and fuel economy. Now, two CUVs are sold for every three cars that drive off the lot, making them a must have for automakers' lineups.

The conception of the CUV and its huge impact over the last decade shows how clever design can quickly change things. Making SUVs smaller worked for automakers but reversing the process also yields results. As its name states, the four-door coupe is the result of taking a coupe with a low arching rear and adding two doors. The trend began with the Mercedes CLS and caught on with most of the German luxury car manufacturers. Customers with money to blow didn't mind sacrificing rear headroom and trunk space for the stunning looks that the cars had. These cars fit the niche for socialites who usually travel in pairs but need the extra doors to accommodate champagne-drunk friends who need to make the 7:30 opera.

The key factor for these cars is looks, and some of the most beautiful examples are the Audi A7, the BMW 6-Series Grand Coupe, the Aston Martin Rapide, and the OG Mercedes CLS. Four-door coupes may offer classical beauty, but on the other end of the spectrum is the ultra-futuristic look of the BMW i-Series. The Bavarian brand intended the design to tell the world that BMW was the future. Whether or not this works for its sales numbers, there is no denying that the cars make people do a double take to digest the design and consider the direction of car styling. The i3 and i8 are a modern art installment because despite looking drastically different, they retain the same design language.

Nothing is classical about these cars, which probably does more to polarize them from buyers then attract them. Either way, there is no denying that the i3 and especially the i8 have made a drastic impact on the styling of cars in the last decade. The CUV, four-door coupe, and the futuristic trend of car design will head into the future and either evolve further or die. But for the time being, they helped to ensure that the past decade was not a visually boring one.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

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