Chris Croft's Personal Blog

March 26, 2011

Designing cars to look deliberately ugly?

I’d be interested to hear from anyone with a good theory about why Skodas don’t look as nice as Audis. Don’t get me wrong, Skodas are brilliant cars, especially for the price – the days of quality problems are long gone. But they don’t LOOK as good do they? Possible explanations why cars from the same company vary so much are:

a) Quality somehow shows through – better-made and better-functioning cars just will unavoidably be a nicer shape as well
b) The difference is in my head, I just can’t help being biased, and if Skodas did cost more than Audis I would find myself preferring the look of the Skoda
c) Audi pay their designers more because they have more money from the sale of the car. The Skoda designers just aren’t as skilled
d) it costs more to manufacture a better-looking car
e) Audi deliberately reduce the attractiveness of the Skodas so they don’t impinge on the sales of Audis (but can you imagine them saying “Design something ugly please” or “sorry, that car is too good looking, bin that design?) If this is really the case it can’t be much fun being a Skoda designer, when you KNOW you could do better but aren’t allowed to.

I find all of the above five hard to believe. Did I miss one?

I am told that although Skoda are part of the Audi group they are totally independent, Audi have no power over Skoda, so maybe e) can’t happen. But then, the other options aren’t very convincing…

thoughts anyone?


PS – am amusing discussion thread is going on at



  1. Audi make concessions on packaging that you don’t see on the VW or the Skoda. An Audi of a given length will have less usable space than the equivalent VW, allowing it to be sleeker. (Compare the headroom in the Golf and the Audi A3.) This is a deliberate choice.

    The Audi also has a lot expensive jewelry (look at the headlights). This costs.

    Comment by Martin Herrington — March 26, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  2. Your theory (e) is attractive to the cynical mind, but implausible. Skoda must compete with Peugeot, Hyundai and others, who have no up-market brand to protect.

    Hyundai hired their chief designer away from Audi, so bang goes theory (c) as well.

    Comment by Martin Herrington — March 26, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

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