Nine cars that did not age well

14th June 2021
Ethan Jupp

Not long ago we put out a list of cars that aged well. That then got us thinking, what cars haven’t enjoyed such luck? What is the definition of not ageing well? See, when you say a car has aged well, it’s usually to do with looks. If it hasn’t, well, like bad jokes posted on Twitter in 2010, more than just styling can age badly in the world of cars. Here are our candidates. We look forward to your notes in the comments...


Ford Focus Mk2

The award for an underwhelming successor that didn’t age well goes to the second-generation Ford Focus. After the mk1, on release, the mk2 looked bland. Today it looks old and bland – a real bird flip to the awesome-looking original. It almost looks like a crossover that isn’t a crossover, it’s that frumpy. Yuck.


Ferrari California

Oh, good lord, that’s not gone well. The California raised eyebrows enough on release in 2008. Now, 13 years on, it really hasn’t grown into its fussiness, even as the rest of the car market has overdone it on styling. It’s so wrong, there’s not a lot that’s right. Those weird exhausts, the weird roof profile. Nope. The California deserves to be the next ‘Mondial’. That’s the ugly when new, uglier now award spoken for.


Mercedes-Benz SL (2008)

The R230 Mercedes SL was curvy, classy and honestly, worse-built than its predecessors. A great era for Mercedes in style but not build quality. That was, until 2008 and here’s a hint, the facelift wasn’t any better-built. The R230 facelift was a facelift in a more literal sense in that a supposedly more ‘modern’ nose was dropped on the R230. It looked a little wonky then and it’s only gotten worse with age. The facelift that aged terribly award is an easy win for this thing. Black Series, you get a pass. You still look awesome.


Audi Q7 V12 TDI

Oh-ho boy. What an unfortunate car to have on your recent record as an automotive group, during a diesel emissions scandal. Yes, imperious and vulgar as the Audi Q7 V12 TDI is to look at, its 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel V12 wins it the award for engine that aged the worst. Word has it the defeat device used on this thing is the size of an entire 1.9 TDI.


Ford Mustang S197

This Mustang is a curious case. When contemplating how good the old ‘New Edge’ SN95 looks these days, we recalled how the S197 actually came along at the time to be a massive improvement and sweep that styling direction under the rug. In 2005, it did look great. Retro-futurism was an exciting new trend. Now… it’s been done, and new-old is now old-new-old and it’s not aged well. Yes, we’re confused as well but the S197 gets the award for retro-modern car that didn’t age well.


BMW M5 E60

You may be thinking the E60 M5 is here because its looks haven’t aged well. I’m actually neither here nor there on the styling. It’s not offensive. What is not great in 2021, is the engine. Yes, that ‘glorious’ 5.0-litre 507PS (373kW) naturally-aspirated V10. Stick with us. By today’s performance standards and indeed compared to many engines available at the time, that V10 was by and large quite gutless, especially in a 1,700kg super saloon. The tiny fuel tank, sizable emissions figure and weedy torque output combined with shaky latter life reliability make it our performance engine that didn’t age well. Want to make the “how dare you attack an analogue hero” argument? Nothing fitted with an SMG gearbox gets to be called an analogue hero on our watch. Next.


Aston Martin Vanquish

Gasp. Yes, it’s here. The Vanquish is one of Aston Martin’s most beautiful cars but on release in 2001, it came with what is considered by many to be the worst paddle-shift transmission ever fitted to a road car. A manual with a hydraulic actuator, upshifts caused whiplash and downshift times could be measured using a calendar. It was also hopelessly unreliable, even from new. If it was bad then, it’s another world of awful now. Writing up the M5 and talking about the SMG reminded us that bad as that was, it wasn’t the worst… Happily for the Aston, it’s the only car on this list that doesn’t even look slightly wonky in 2021. Still a knockout.


Nissan Leaf

Those who saw the coming all-electric revolution, saw this coming back in 2010 when the original Leaf was new. We cry foul now when an EV can’t crack 200 miles on a charge. The original Leaf was rated at around 100 miles of range, on the extremely optimistic NEDC test cycle. Now that is range anxiety. It really makes you appreciate how far these kinds of cars have come… except some still won’t do over 150.


Mazda RX-8

Such a shame, as the Mazda RX-8 is a fun little car. But it’s about to get a bit of a panning. Styling-wise, it looked cool back in 2003. Now, it looks like it was designed to be one of those no-badge, no-copyright RC cars you might pick up in a bargain shop. Then there’s the engine. Compared to this, the E60 M5 is a 427 Cobra. The 1.3-litre Wankel Rotary loved to be revved, loved to eat oil and didn’t love making any torque. Clever and cool as the RX-8 was back in 2003, it couldn’t feel more out of place in 2021.

  • Ford

  • Focus

  • Ferrari

  • California

  • Audi

  • Q7

  • Mercedes

  • SL

  • BMW

  • M5

  • FordMustang

  • Aston Martin

  • Vanquish

  • Nissan

  • Leaf

  • Mazda

  • RX-8

  • List

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