Ten of the ugliest road cars ever

14th December 2021
Ethan Jupp

There’s a lot of debate when it comes to the way cars look. Looks are subjective and it’s all a matter of opinion, of course, but some cars are all but objectively bad looking, aren’t they? Here are some of our candidates for the ugliest road cars ever.


Lamborghini Veneno

We’ll get to some of the more everyday stuff in a bit. To our minds, everyday cars have somewhat more of an excuse. They’re beholden to practicalities, corporate identities and aren’t first and foremost, objects of desire. Which is what supercars are supposed to be. So what, pray tell, is the point in an ugly supercar? The reasons, the proprietors of such machines will tell you, are two-fold: visual drama, and a function-over-form ethos. 

In the case of the Veneno, it was Lamborghini’s attempt at the former. Based on the Aventador – not exactly a shrinking violet – the Veneno is what Centro Stile created as an attempt at a limited series model with motorsport influence, presumably achieved by hacking holes in an Aventador, bolting Super Trofeo bits to it and then melting it all in an oven for 30 minutes. There is not a single angle that appeals, not a whisper of attraction. It’s all pointless, gratuitous vulgarity, ordinarily the preserve of the aftermarket. Far from subtle or inherently beautiful themselves, the Reventon that preceded it and the Centenario that came after, are pictures of perfection by comparison. I’d honestly rather walk.

The plus sides? On the inside it’s just an Aventador and obviously, it has that car’s V12. Exactly those things and the fact the Veneno looks like the lovechild of the Elephant Man and a mid-2000s Daytona prototype are reasons enough to just buy an Aventador. That and the seven-figure discount.


McLaren Senna

The Senna is the other side of the coin. Fair play honestly to McLaren for saying from the outset, that this car is not and was never intended to be beautiful. It’s a car designed to wrangle and wrestle the air that passes over and through it as a constrictor would an unsuspecting faun. 

So what’s the issue? Well, again, it’s our view that a supercar, whatever its stated purpose, should be an object of desire. There has to be some style for style’s sake. Second, the Senna comes with 245-section front tyres. Throw as much of the claimed 800kg of downforce the Xenomorph’s hindquarter-esque bodywork is capable of generating at them as you want, physics is physics and that simply isn’t enough rubber. The results are unsatisfying in a car that’s sacrificed so much in the pursuit of performance. Cop a McLaren 650S GT3 car for half the cost, spend the change on a Porsche Cayenne and a trailer and have a much better experience, we implore you. Just don’t make us keep looking at it.


Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

Wasn’t it once the job of Mansory to do stuff like this to cars? Once the preserve of a dark dingey carbon-clad corner of a Geneva Motor Show, this kind of insult to automotive aesthetics is becoming more commonplace from OEMs. 

No, the Merc isn’t an eyesore to equal the last two but compared to the glorious Black Series models of old, it really does look like an AMG GTR that’s pirouetted through the back pages of a mid-2000s issue of Redline magazine. It’s sad too that the AMG GT and GTR are such lusty machines to begin with. The Black Series aero treatment, however functional, spells distressing ruination. The kicker? With a flat-plane crank, the engine’s lost all the rumbly AMG personality it once had, too. Obviously, it’s an AMG GT at heart and with 730PS (537kW) and that much downforce on top of that, it’s surely to be a riot. It also happens to be a Nürburgring lap record holder. But, and I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned this yet, a car you spend any more than normal money on should be appealing. To my eyes, this ain’t it, chief.


Hispano Suiza Carmen

When you’re reviving a historical name with pre-war origins and a history of coachbuilding in an all-electric supercar, the world is your oyster. You could genuinely style the world’s most beautiful car. With the Carmen, Hispano Suiza have done anything but. If Batman were a drunk Russian Oligarch, this would be his Batmobile.

We can see where the inspiration comes from, but the bold 1930s style of the Hispano-Suiza H6C Dubonnet Xenia that this is inspired by has in translation to a carbon-bodied 2020s all-electric hypercar, become ill-proportioned and crass. The Dubonnet is a piece of history that’s very of its era. In a way, minus the historical significance, this is too, given that electric powertrains and abject vulgarity are seemingly the order of the day in the market the Carmen occupies. In a weird, twisted way, the Carmen is relevant. That doesn’t make it attractive.


Fiat Multipla

We could go on picking out extremely exclusive and expensive cars that have no business being as ugly as they are (Bugatti Divo, you escaped by the skin of your teeth). But it’s time to get relatable. From coach-built to couch-built, seemingly, the Fiat Multipla. It certainly looks like it ought to get up off the couch and go for a run. One of the questions most asked on Google is “Why is the Fiat Multipla the ugliest car?” We’ll tell you why. Because it resembles the chest of an overweight middle-aged man with his shirt off. 

As a car the Multipla was actually quite clever – look at that enormous glasshouse and the healthy wheelbase. In spite of only having two rows of seating, it’s still sort of an MPV, given each offers seating for three. The cabin, though oddly styled again, was praised when new. It even offered a crossover-style lofty driving position. Competent a car as it was, however, there’s just no abiding the looks inspired by the body of a ruddy-faced truck driver that’s got a bit too comfortable in a sauna.


Pontiac Aztek

Entrenched in the lore of ugly cars as the Multipla is, we don’t think there’s a single car on the planet that owes its icon status to its ugliness, quite as much as the Pontiac Aztek – what on Earth were the designers thinking? Believe it or not, the styling of this thing is credited to the man who penned the C7 Corvette. His original concept for the Aztek was, in context, more appealing but nothing about that original vision that was good – which isn’t a huge amount – was going to survive GM bureaucracy. 

Like the Multipla, the Aztek was actually somewhat ahead of its time. A multi-purpose vehicle in a new sense, that combined traditional MPV traits with a more rugged SUV feel. Plenty of others are doing it today. That Pontiac’s pioneering attempt lived only four years is proof enough that prescience be damned, this car was always doomed. The perfect wheels of a cancer-addled crystal meth magnate. 


Chrysler PT Cruiser

What was it about the ‘Big Three’ in the 1990s and early 2000s? They were on a mad one with pumping out weird retro-inspired clobber that was half the time half-baked and vomit inducingly ugly. The Chrysler PT Cruiser joins the Aztek as one of the very strangest cars to be birthed in this era. 

Want to know what the PT Cruiser has in common with the multi-million-pound Hispano Suiza? A bad interpretation of a 1930s icon, its styling based loosely on the famous Airflow of 1934. That car was revolutionary in its day but its design tropes did not translate well in the new millennium. In spite of this strange blobby design, the PT Cruiser was a success for Chrysler. When new, many actually liked the styling, claiming that something genuinely new and different should be celebrated. Likewise, it was coveted by reviewers as quite a good car. Its non-conformance to a class brought near-wagon practicality to near-compact proportions. They wound up selling 13 million of the things during its nine-year production run. But success and praise notwithstanding, there’s no getting away from the fact that in its age, the PT Cruiser has become one of the great humdingers. 


Ssangyong Rodius

Speaking of humdingers, phwoah! The Korean MPV was a grimace-inspiring machine that copped a lot of grief for the way it looked. Many consider it one of if not the ugliest car ever. It even garnered the ‘WTF award’ from Top Gear magazine. It’s strange drooping glasswork sits uncomfortably in the cuboidal slab sides. It has a sad face and an even sadder bottom, with wheels that actually look like they’re struggling under its weight.

Unlike the PT Cruiser and Multipla, not only is the Rodius difficult to look at, it also fails to redeem itself as a car. Auto Express gives the 2005-2013 model one star out of five. Is there anything good? It’s very practical and for its day it had decent equipment but beyond that, it’s as hideous to drive as it is to look at, by most accounts. Avoid with extreme prejudice.


Nissan Juke

At the risk of sounding like any given comment section every time a car enthusiast motoring outlet talks about crossovers, the Juke takes pride of place on this list. Is it the ugliest car in the world? Not quite. Its success, however, has gone some way to making our roads a good deal uglier.

The Juke was an over-styled, oddly-proportioned, dumpy and depressing. None of that mattered to the millions that bought it, though something must have clicked given Nissan made the second-generation car much more appealing. It was obviously a great car – efficient, inexpensive to own, other things – but we’re still bitter, especially given its success was so extensive that it inspired other marques to churn out similar drivel to drive the handsome hatchbacks we know and love closer to extinction. 


Honda Civic (FK8)

We feel a bit cruel closing this list out with the outgoing Civic, as it is a truly excellent car. But the fact is that apart from the Juke above, there’s no better poster child for one of the ugliest tropes of car design from the last decade or so: over-styling. Quite how this much styling was squeezed into one car is entirely baffling to us but they managed it, with difficult-to-behold results. It’s all fake vents, awkward excessive contours and jutting angles. Not even the Type R treatment helped. For some, it was actually worse. 

The next-generation Civic’s comparatively restrained looks have to be an admission of a slip-up when it comes to the design of the outgoing car, don’t they? A sign perhaps that we’re through the worst of the over-styling era.

As we said up top, car styling is entirely subjective. And indeed, these are just ten that spring to mind when contemplating what the ugliest cars are. Ugly cars likely outnumber the very prettiest 20-to-one. Are there any that absolutely should have had a spot or do you think any of these shouldn’t have been here? Let us know.

  • list

  • McLaren

  • Lamborghini

  • Nissan

  • Mercedes-AMG

  • Fiat

  • Chrysler

  • Ssangyong

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