GOOD LOOKING? The new Porsche Panamera replaces the roundly panned first generation GT car, but Iain Curry fights to defend the big Porsche and other so-called uglies.
GOOD LOOKING? The new Porsche Panamera replaces the roundly panned first generation GT car, but Iain Curry fights to defend the big Porsche and other so-called uglies.

What makes an ugly car? And can we still love them?

PORSCHE'S second generation Panamera has been revealed this week before its arrival here in early 2017, and the ludicrously priced, ludicrously quick and capable four-door GT looks, well, lovely.  

No surprise, you may think, as it needs to justify an Aussie price tag of $304,200 (Panamera 4S) to $376,900 (Panamera Turbo).

But the fact the new Panamera looks so desirable is in stark contrast to what many think of the outgoing car's design, which polarises opinion like few others on our market. Catch the right person and they'll tell you that, bar none, it's the ugliest thing you could waste a huge amount of money on.  

2010 Porsche Panamera. Photo: Contributed
UGLY? Really? The 2010 Porsche Panamera may not be a classic, but is still desirable.

Well, time for me to 'fess up. The Panamera in its current guise - from its 2010 reveal through its 2013 facelift - is my guilty pleasure. Of course I don't think it's a modern design classic like, say, the Mercedes-AMG GT S or Jaguar F-Type, but there's something about its brashness, its "I don't care what you think, check out the Porsche badge" attitude that appeals.   

Maybe it's the so-bad-it's-good scenario that does it for me, or perhaps it's the fact Porsche spent more time on developing a dynamically superb Grand Tourer than it did worrying too much about the body aesthetics of this stretched 911. Same thing happened with the Cayenne SUV when it first arrived.  

2017 Porsche Panamera 4S. Photo: Contributed
NEW PANAMERA: Okay, this is a lot nicer...

Seriously, if you were planning your around-Australia, across America or through Europe road trip with the family could you really be disappointed with a Panamera? Fast fun for four? Oh yes.   

The thing is, car enthusiasts often buck the trend of common consensus. The most car-tragic motoring journos for example - and I speak to lots of them - have revealed affections for the likes of the Holden Camira sedan, Honda Insight, Ford Ka and Toyota Tarago.

Even the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible has a fan, but he's a heavy drinker.  

Citroen Cactus. Photo: Contributed
CITROEN CACTUS: Has its fans, has its haters

Design is of course highly subjective, but I've been surprised at the vitriol directed at Citroen for its funky Cactus, towards BMW for its X6 and X4 SUVs and Mercedes for its GLE Coupe SUV.

Niche products indeed, but there are far worse lookers out there: BMW's own 5 Series Gran Turismo for one. It's niche too - "an entirely new class of vehicle" BMW says - but has a profile and rear end only a blind mother could love.   

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. Photo: Contributed
BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. Photo: Contributed MM

Controversial - or even downright ugly - cars are part of the rich tapestry of automotive design through the years, with some ultimately finding favour as the years pass. Just look how desirable a DeLorean, Jaguar XJ-S or Lamorghini Espada are these days after being panned on initial reveal.   

There are some not even I can forgive however. Hang your heads SsangYong Stavic and Kyron, Ford EcoSport and new Toyota Prius. I'd wager that little lot won't improve with age.  

Photo: Contributed
UNFORGIVABLE: SsangYong Rodius.

Yet an upside should be these roundly detested cars will be super cheap on the used market if nobody wants nor loves them.

I was clinging to that hope with the old Porsche Panamera myself, yet six years after its introduction you still can't buy one for under $100k. Perhaps people didn't find them that ghastly after all...  

2016 Toyota Prius. Photo: Contributed
TOYOTA PRIUS: Proving car companies can still pump out the uglies...