Take a look at the cars on the road today. Everyone's striving for original styling, but everyone copies each other at the same time. Car grilles are a prime example. Across the gamut of manufacturers, it seems that most of them look pretty much the same, utilizing a wide ellipsoid shape with parallel top and bottom lines of the grille frame and angled or curved outer edges. From Audi to Hyundai to Subaru the formula looks like they all copied each other's homework. Like they say, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Too bad we can't quite figure out who started this whole thing.

Lincoln attempted an original grille with their now gone MKZ. Too bad it looked like a mustache.

Even if a manufacturer deviates slightly from this formula, it still gets copied. Take a look at Jaguar. Their rounded ellipsoid grille found across their lineup has now been copied by Lincoln on the new Continental. Then take a look at Mercedes. It's the same, generally rounded ellipsoid shape that's not wholly original, With some minor changes, the manufacturers make the shape their own without taking any major design risks.


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The risk now is that if you try to be too original, your cars just end up looking weird. Just take one look at the first versions of Lexus' spindle grille, showing up on the 2014 Lexus IS. In their attempt to make their cars more exciting, Toyota's luxury brand went a bit too much over the top. Though it worked well on the smaller and freshly redesigned IS sedan, it seemed like an afterthought when it was slapped on the older LS and LX models. Sure, it's an original design, but we would never call it handsome. At least in F Sport trim with the mesh pattern, it looks pretty good. 

The Alfa Romeo Giulia has one of the best grilles in the industry, and the design goes back to the 1940s.

Two car brands that have done it right are BMW and Alfa Romeo, but those grilles date back decades rather than having emerged recently. The ones that are so iconic also happen to be the ones that can't e copied. It seems that modern grilles that have been newly developed are only slightly tweaked versions of the ellipsoid. 

BMW's famous kidney grille is one of the oldest and most original in the industry. 

Now that it seems original grille shapes have been attempted and gone badly (Acura's "Power Plenum", for example), manufacturers are trying to inject some originality in the texture and mesh of the inner grille section, itself, going beyond just vertical or horizontal bars and opting for unique surface treatments like the Lincoln logo mesh in the new Continental or the Acura Diamond Pentagon grille on the new Acura MDX and TLX. Though these treatments might not be visible from a distance, they're certainly noticeable up close and work to distinguish the brands within the industry.


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The struggle to create more original brand identity will continue, and that originality will show up more and more in the little details, as well as in the holistic design themes. Grilles, however, will continue to be the focus of each brand, whether the manufacturers like it or not. We hope to see someone come up with a truly original new grille design that hasn't been tried before, but not one that's so weird it sends buyers running in the other direction.