Back in 2008 when Audi launched the Q5, former Top Gear host Richard Hammond, poked fun at them for simply taking the Q7 and photocopying it at 75% to create the new model. While I can support a recognizable brand design language, simply taking one look and resizing it to fit different market segments is lazy and may have some unintended consequences. In my opinion, one of the worst offenders nowadays is Mercedes. The photo below is of the brand new W213 E-Class and the W205 C-Class, which are nearly indistinguishable when the model name is blocked out. Unless you’re a die hard Mercedes fan, it’ll probably take you a few minutes of close side-by-side comparison to unequivocally state which model is which. Frankly aside from the old G-Wagen, every Mercedes sports essentially the same front end design and the vehicles can only be distinguished from the A-pillar back.
Personally, if I’m paying 20-25% more for a specific vehicle, I don’t want people mistaking it for an inferior model but that’s just my opinion. Despite Top Gear’s jab at Audi, the Q5 is one of the brands most successful models ever and helped to really establish Audi as a legitimate BMW/Mercedes competitor. While I understand that it’s safer to go with a look that’s familiar and cohesive with the rest of the lineup, as a car enthusiast I love seeing designers take risks and actually make an impact in car design.