Tesla’s Once-Odd Front Fascia Now Viewed As Signature & Slick



A year and a half ago, when the production Model X first rolled onstage, it looked weird-o-rama. That duct-taped face! No expression! The Matrix guy with the missing mouth! Such were the comments on Reddit and everywhere else.

Model X debut TeslaMondo

Nevertheless, the Model S adopted the same mutism soon afterward. Now the super-slick S/X fascia has become a signature Tesla styling cue. Model 3 carries it forth. The old Model S nose cone? It’s merely a time stamp that partitions new from old units, and it reeks of genuflection to ICE tradition. See ya.

The lesson: Sometimes automotive designers actually earn their pay, by correctly guessing what will look “right” a few years forward. Hooray for a long shelf life, even if the product startles at first.

Another example:

Jeep Cherokee TeslaMondo

Upon first sight in 2013, the Jeep faithful barfed en masse. Google it. Travesty! Heresy! What did Jeep designer Mark Allen have to say for himself, the fool? “Our head was in 2019,” he told Ward’s Auto, while an angry mob waited outside the office, holding pitchforks. Four years later, sure enough, Allen was right-on. The Cherokee has sold quite well and doesn’t yet look desperate for a replacement. It could indeed stay fresh into 2019.

By contrast, here’s an example of not designing for the future.

2012 Civic TeslaMondo

The conspicuously inconspicuous 2012 Civic lasted only a few months before Honda dragged it offstage at great embarrassment and expense. A couple iterations later, good times have returned. Uh, if you like Japanese sci-fi. The latest Civic looks ideal for shooting missiles at Godzilla. Same goes for other new Japanese vehicles, and some American ones. The Corvette is turning Japanese.

This image contains a Civic and a Corvette. It’s true! What does that tell us?

stage 2

Please, Tesla, stick to the simple n’ smooth aesthetic. Don’t succumb to this monster madness unless you plan to make your cars launch real missiles to complement bioweapon defense mode. The best defense, you know, is a good offense.

*Editor’s Note: This and other Tesla-related posts appear on TeslaMondo. Check it out here.

Category: Tesla

50 responses to "Tesla’s Once-Odd Front Fascia Now Viewed As Signature & Slick"
  1. David Murray says:

    When I see the older style Teslas with the black faux grille, I immediately think how much better the newer ones look.

    1. Koenigsegg says:

      Not. The LED DRL’s on the Nosecone Model S’s are significantly brighter than the new facelift Model S’s which are significantly dim. I think that’s very very stupid and lame.

      You buy a new Model S and your lights completely suck. I’m surprised Tesla has not fixed this yet. All Model X also have very dim LED DRL’s.

      It literally makes the car and the new ones are just pathetic.

      Nosecone = Spaceship

      New front end = Nothing

      And the new front end is not smooth like the Nosecone is

      Original > Facelift

      1. Mo says:

        I don’t see what the big deal it, Porsche’s have never had a grille! The model 3 looks like a Porsche with a flatter front to it.

      2. Terawatt says:

        Whether the lights are LED or not has nothing to do whether there is a faux grille or not.

        His point (and I’m no fan of Murrey, btw) was about how the new car looks relative to the old one. Any other aspect of the new versus the old but appearance is therefore completely irrelevant.

      3. FFE 1 says:

        funny and rather odd point of view-
        I have the new S and love the look – I think it is way slicker that the odd black shiny oval front cap of the original and prefer it by far. As far as the lights – wow – they seem plenty bright to the point that people think I have high beams on when I don’t. Funny that you seem so misguided on this – do you own a Tesla?

  2. Pete says:

    The EV1 had no grill in 1996…

    1. CLIVE says:

      And then?

    2. vdiv says:

      The second gen. 1993 Ford Probe had no grille either. I don’t understand what all the hoopla is all about. No grille is better than a fake grille, and frankly better than the fish mouth nose cone on the original Model S, which was apparently done just to appease the crowd and increase acceptance of the car (seems silly now).

      1. Tom says:

        Yeah those cretins. How dare they make their car look like something that might keep them out of bankruptcy.

        1. vdiv says:

          Yes, indeed, how dare they not believe in the intrinsic superiority of the electric car?! :p

    3. Jelloslug says:

      The Ford Taurus had no grill in 1986…

      1. Yan says:

        The Stud Avanti dint had a grill, in the ’60’s.

        1. Nick says:

          The Baker Electric had no grill in 1899. 😀

        2. Steven says:

          Yeah, and where is Studebaker now?

          All kidding aside, I loved the first generation Avanti, and thought it was a travesty when the rights were sold.

  3. J Quincy says:

    I like the older original classic S and the new one.

    Worst design to me seems the Lexus’ gaping mouth grill.

    1. Alltesla says:

      Don’t forget Audi

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      For worst front end, I nominate the Toyota Mirai.

      I’ll refrain from posting a picture, because I wouldn’t want any InsideEVs reader to reach for a spoon with which to gouge out their eyes. 😉

      1. Scott Franco says:

        I don’t think you appreciate the functionality. It is scooping up free hydrogen from the air.

  4. georgeS says:

    ” The old Model S nose cone? It’s merely a time stamp that partitions new from old units, and it reeks of genuflection to ICE tradition. ”

    Pound sand Tesla Mondo:)

  5. Mike says:

    I wonder if they thought the same thing was going to happen when they were designing the Pontiac Aztec or maybe the AMC Pacer.

  6. Bob Nan says:

    Next big question is, ‘Do we really need a bonnet’.
    What if the front windshielf is pulled all the way to the bumper level and the driver just sits above the wheel or just to the right of the left wheel and the co-passenger to the left of right wheel.
    The Model-S can become a 8 seater with 2 + 3 + 3. And of course another 2 seats for children in the Trunk area if needed.

    That will be a big advantage for the Electric and something that a gasmobile cannot match.

    1. DJ says:

      Or maybe the driver can even sit in front of the wheels so that their body is the crumple zone and helps save the car in the event of an accident.

      Were people really all like whoa that’s weird about the new MS that didn’t have a grill? I think the MX does look weird and it’s lack of a grill isn’t the main reason why. The MS in my book doesn’t look weird at all and in fact is a very nice looking car.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        The first, pre-production pictures of the Model X showed it with a nosecone just like the Model S. Later, Tesla got coy and only showed the rear or a 3/4 rear angle. When I finally saw what would be the production front end of the Model X, I assumed (wrongly) that it was a work in progress, because Tesla surely wouldn’t put a car with such a large blank area on its nose into production.

        The new MX/MS front fascia has grown on me, and I no longer actively dislike it, but I’d still prefer something different.

        If Tesla had to ditch the nosecone, I wish they had gone for something like the Saleen Model S. Now that is one sexy car! But I assume the new Tesla design has a lower coefficient of drag than the Saleen version.

  7. apkungen says:

    Almost no porsches have grills…

    1. Robert Fahey says:

      Most don’t have front engines.

      1. Teslas don’t have engines.

        1. Robert Fahey says:

          We’re saying the same thing. No need for gulping air if there’s no engine to breathe it.

    2. vdiv says:

      Exactly, the original VW Beetle didn’t

  8. James P Heartney says:

    I must be getting old; most of these sedans look the same to me. Also they all look pissed off. Not a friendly face in the bunch.

    Back when I was a kid, car styling was radically different year-on-year. When the new ones came out in late summer, you could TELL. 1960>1961>1962 Chevy Impalas looked distinctive every year.

    1. Jelloslug says:

      To my eye most cars from the 60s all look the same. The same goes for most decades…

      1. James P Heartney says:

        They look the same? Amazing. To me they are very distinctive.

        1. Steven says:

          I’m not a “Ford guy” but at very least, the trim on the sides is a dead give away.

          1. Steven says:

            BTW, I say “Ford guy” regardless of brand, because those folks seem to be able to sort lug nuts by year.

        2. Stimpy says:

          If this was your example for cars looking different, I think you are not helping your point. 😉

    2. CVVH says:

      The new Tomahawk electric roadster has a decidedly Pixar grinning face to it.

      1. James P Heartney says:

        The Tomahawk has a kind of fish look to my eyes. But you’re right – it’s really cartoony with a friendly face.

    3. Steven says:

      We played “Guess the car” at night, by just the shape of the tail lights.

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Guess I’m just old fashioned. I still prefer the original nosecone version of the Model S.

    1. Stimpy says:

      This one has odd stripes (stickers?) on it making it look more like a grill. How ironic!

  10. Nemo says:

    It’s too bad GM lacked Tesla’s confidence, and went with a silly fake grill for the Bolt.

  11. Koenigsegg says:

    Nosecone >>>>>>>

    SpaceX influence

  12. Bojan says:

    The design I’d like to see on the front of an EV is that of the 8th get European Civic – just replace the grille with a glass strip that integrates the headlamps.

  13. Alonso Perez says:

    I actually don’t like any of the Tesla front end designs. It’s always been a weak spot. It’s not “grille or no grille”, it’s a problem of execution. Lots of beautiful sports cars have no grille.

    It’s just that the Zorro mustache of the X and S, the blank space of the 3, the faux grille nosecone of the original S, none of these really work. The X is the worst. You need to buy a dark color X to minimize the problem; it looks worst in white.

    It’s weird because the rest of the car is quite good for all models. It’s just that the Tesla design team, or perhaps Musk himself, just can’t quite hit the right solution for the face of the car. The 3 is kind of OK, but definitely not great.

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      My feeling exactly.

      Part of the problem is Euro-pedestrian laws, which seem to drive front ends that are high and flat. It’s hard to fill that space without a radiator grille.

  14. Terawatt says:

    The horse had no grille in 1660!

    1. vdiv says:

      It had nostrils, with hairs coming out 🙂

    2. James P Heartney says:

      Early car bodies were modeled on horse-drawn carriages. In fact is was the same coach-builders creating them in many cases.

  15. Scott Franco says:

    Any pure decorative feature on a car is going to be suspect. That is why the faux grill had to go.

    1. Agreed.

      Form should follow function.

  16. Hardcore says:

    I’m a practical guy. I prefer having quick access to the internals of the vehicle (battery posts, tow hook, etc.) provided by the nosecone, rather than the new style that buries all that out of reach and you need to be a technician to access.