Nissan loses its styling mojo as Subaru gets its back

For anyone looking at the press reports from the LA auto shows, have you ever thought “what were they thinking?”. A pair of great examples are the two Nissans unveiled – the Murano Cross-Cabriolet and the Quest minivan.
First comes my rant about the Murano. It looks like a bloated version of the 1990s Suzuki X-90. Remember that dinky 2-seater mini-SUV wannabe. It wasn’t sporty to warrant being a 2-seater nor did it have the utility of an SUV. Think of the Murano as a more grown up version of that X-90. Firstly, Nissan screwed up when it redid the 1st generation Murano. The Murano 1G looked so good, it was a hard act to follow. Expectedly, the Murano 2G was a disappointment – at least in the exterior styling department. And now comes the Cross-Cabriolet. While Nissan’s courage is admirable in shooting for the niche, I wonder who would want a two-door four-seater that is riding up high. A two door car with a boot brings to mind the image of a sporty good-looking car – exactly what the Murano is not. If I wanted the poseur value of a convertible, I would spring for Infiniti’s own G37 2 door convertible. This car saddles you with the issues of a high-riding car – namely a high center of gravity without the utility and you don’t get the good looks of a regular 2 door convertible to boot.
And now for the other rant. I had admired Nissan when it brought out the Quest (with the instrument binnacle in the center). Its styling was way sleeker than the Siennas and Odysseys. And yet, it was as roomy as the other two Japanese minivans.    But sadly most of the rugrats toting soccer moms did not fall for the Quest’s avant-garde styling or got stymied by its other faults – such as lack of split-folding 3rd row or compromised seating in the 2nd row.  So looks like Nissan has over-corrected , at least in the styling department. This Quest, by virtue of its looks, comes across as more dated than the previous generation. And what’s with the boxy theme. Looks like Nissan copied the styling of a Chevy Astro.
So is it all doom and gloom? Thankfully, that’s not the case.
Apparently, Subaru had decided to go for volume by making their cars as non-offensive as possible. But that also makes them boring, almost appliance-like. The current Impreza is a fine example. The previous generation at least looked interesting. The current one looks so non-descript, its almost yawn-inducing.
Plus the ergonomics are horrible, especially for vertically-challenged folks like me. Looks like all these complaints got to the stylists. For they have unveiled a very interesting looking Impreza concept at the LA auto show this year. Is this the start of a styling renaissance at Subaru? One swallow does not make a spring but keep you eyes peeled for more swallows from the folks at Subaru. 


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