Here’s a message for any global car maker wanting to disclose bad news about a defeat device or some dodgy corporate governance, in a place where the majority of working motoring journalists might miss it: stick it somewhere near the front of the press kit for the next new model you launch, in the section entitled ‘exterior design’.
Though it speaks ill of me to admit it, very few of us bother to read that section. Designers speak their own language, and the quality of their output is often so subjectively judged that we hardly need to touch on it; you either like the way something looks or you don’t.
Often, but not always. This week has acquainted me with two cars that vouch for the effect that good design, or its opposite, can have on a new car – and I’m keen, before going much further, to find out if it’s just me that thinks as much, or something more widely felt.
Neither the Renault Grand Scenic nor the Mini Countryman has any right, you might think, to look like a particularly stylish car – but, to me, one of them smashes the odds into a thousand pieces, and the other one sinks out of trace beneath their weight.
The Renault’s the doozy: a seven-seat MPV made to shine like a beacon among some very strange and plain-looking rivals by Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker’s talent and commitment. 20in rims on a car of this profile make an enormous difference to its visual appeal, and the way the tapered bodyside and smartly defined surfaces combine is very clever, to my eye.