Very regularly, we journalists receive press releases revealing the restyling of this or that model. And more and more we ask ourselves: “but what has changed? » I must have done a lot of things to present you the « new » Kia XCeed on video. In the same genre, very clever who can differentiate the current BMW 3 Series LCI from the non-LCI at first glance, at least from the outside.
However, many cars have had a great second life after being facelifted. It was practically the norm. Remember the Citroën Visa, saved by strokes of black paint and the addition of plastic cladding, in 1981. Still at Citroën, the DS almost experienced a renaissance in 1967, when it received this remarkable front end with four headlights under the roof.
The BX entered commercial orbit in 1986, four years after its appearance, with calmer styling and a new interior. And what about the pale C5, which gains a lot in character from 2003? Which is the last to be reworked both in the double chevron.
Renault? The former Régie was an expert in the field, heavily overhauling his R25 in 1988, R21 in 1989 and R19 in 1991. Front, rear, dash, it was all there. As with the Clio II in 2001. The Clio III has also suffered from the scalpel, but he’s not really happy about it. Since ? The surgery gave way to homeopathic botox.
Peugeot yielded much less to the sirens of the restyling, the most notable beneficiary of this process being the 305 of 1982, which was almost completely redone, both on the side of the body and the passenger compartment, as well as on the front axle and engines. Let’s also mention the 406, revised by Pininfarina in 1999, or the slightly less extensively reworked 106. Since then, the details have changed at the Sochalien.
In Italy, Fiat has extensively redesigned its models. In addition to the 132, almost completely redone in 1974 (it was born badly), we think in particular of the Uno, revised from top to bottom in 1989 (an operation that cost a lot of money), of the Croma, effectively relaunched in 1991, of the Multipla, which had a second run from 2004, when it lost its highly controversial front mouldings, or on the Croma II, much rejuvenated by being fitted with the…Bravo II headlights. But alas, the Punto II missed the mark in 2003, when it was decked out in a VW Polo-style muzzle. But that’s nothing compared to the Punto Evo fiasco, an ugly Grande Punto in 2009, which sent sales plummeting! Since… Like the others, the Italian giant sticks to timid collagen injections here and there.
In Germany ? Same fight. Audi, for example, completely overhauled its 80 in 1991 (looks, rear drive, suspension) or even its A4 B6, which became the B7 in 2006. Since then? We review the lace style. I also remember joking in 2014 about the restyling of the A6 C7, so tenuous that even the brand’s press department confused their brushes on their presentation sheet, inadvertently mixing photos of the old model and the new…
Ford also carried out facelift-like restylings. One thinks, for example, of the Fiesta, in 1995, which in addition to an ovoid front, benefited from important structural alterations. It must be said that the model, who appeared in 1989, was not born very well. But he also proceeded very extensively with the Mondeo I, in 1996, three years after its launch.
BMW is one of the last to ostensibly redesign one of its models, the 1 Series F20 in 2015. Mercedes also went strong with the E-Class W212 from 2009, extensively restyled in 2013, but since…
At VW, the trend is similar. The Polo II switched to square headlamps in 1990 (while receiving a new dashboard), the III was similarly dramatically altered in 1999 (inspired by the Fiat Punto II restyling, incidentally), the IV ditched its four headlamps in 2005 and after… Detail, you guessed it!
The fourth-generation VW Passat, for example, swapped its skinny grille for a front one in 2001 (like the Citroën Visa, but in reverse), but it was the last to evolve so profoundly. More precisely, going from the fifth to the sixth iteration in 2010, it followed what Peugeot did with the 308 in 2008, VW going from the Golf II to the Golf III in 1991, even to a lesser extent Renault whose Clio is fundamentally in disguise. and equipped with new engines. We keep the lower part of the car, that is, its platform, its suspensions, even some engines, we completely change its shape and present it all as a new model.
This trend has become widespread, which has many advantages in terms of development costs. Due to ever-tightening standards, modifying sheet metal costs more and more, and is just as wasteful when it comes to modifying a dashboard. Thus, instead of carrying out a massive restyling as in the 80s, a slightly deeper update is carried out, allowing the result to be presented not as an evolution but as a completely new model, designed at a lower cost.
It must be said that platforms, like the rest, are always more expensive to design, especially since they have to be used for a multitude of models that are often very different. A trend started by Fiat with the Type in 1988 and taken to the extreme by the VW Group. Advantage, to develop ranges at lower cost, but also to give the illusion of constant novelties, in order to revive the interest of buyers. Disadvantages: background developments that are too slow, which has paved the way for disruptive manufacturers, such as Tesla, which in turn slightly modifies its models…