Well, let’s look at just a single mainstream example to begin with. In the past, if you drove a Hyundai, it meant that you didn’t care very much for speed or style – frugality and practicality were at the top of your priority list. You were most likely an accountant. But, today, if you see someone in a new Verna, for instance, you immediately think of that person as being quite stylish and with it – simply because the car is aesthetically pleasing and cutting edge. You think of him or her as an architect or novelist – someone you wouldn’t mind having lunch with.
And that just demonstrates the power of design. Ever since Hyundai decided that having a design department would help in its quest for selling more cars – and, fortunately for the Korean manufacturer, the designers that made up that division hit a home-run with their ‘fluidic design’ philosophy – Hyundai’s have gone from being staid and insipid to quite cool conversation starters.
Style is so important, in fact, that I would go so far as to say that the appeal of the person behind the wheel is directly proportionate to the lines of the vehicle. No wonder Lamborghini’s cost as much as they do. I’m sure that if Darwin were around he would agree that a good looking automobile is the ultimate evolutionary tool. Of course, there’s more going on here than meets the eye. For what it’s worth, the automobile is the most visible statement that you can make about your life condition. But, that’s a loaded statement, so let’s stick to design shall we.
Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we’re entering a golden age in automotive design, but at least we’re pretty far removed from the disastrous decade of the 70’s. And with a few exceptions, the 80’s and 90’s weren’t great either. Woefully, current regulations mean that the world will never see the elegant chariots of the late 30’s – the likes of the Merc 540K, Bugatti Atlantic, Delahaye 135 – but that’s not to say that a current generation Aston Martin Zagato isn’t the stuff of wet dreams either.
But, even in the Indian context, you’ve got Chevy’s that are edgy, Hyundai’s that are cutting edge, Renault’s that are unique, Honda’s that are funky, and Audi’s that are chiselled. So, there’s simply no excuse for driving a staid car anymore – unless you’re an accountant that is!