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SsangYong Rodius

Some cars are beautiful, and some ... well, not to put too fine a point on it, some cars are not beautiful. The proportions are off, or the detailing is overwrought, or a prominent design element clashes with the rest of the styling, or it's bland and boring, or something's just ... not quite right.

And then there are those select few that are total aesthetic disasters. Not just ugly, but dog ugly. Butt ugly. Warthog-beaten-with-an-ugly-stick ugly. Cars it hurts just to look at.

Today's subject is such a car. It was voted "the ugliest car ever made" by the readers of CarData, Whether that's exactly right or wrong--I can think of a few other contenders for that dubious honor--this car is nevertheless one whose body panels insult the very steel they were stamped out of. Continue reading only if you be men and women of valor, for the styling of this automobile is so just plain wrong that it would make even an Aztek owner recoil in horror. So, brave readers, if you do doubt your courage or your strength or the durability of your retinas, come no further, for true hideousness awaits you all with ...

... what is probably the worst rear-end design on any vehicle ever built.

This particular felony offense against good taste is a Rodius, an SUV which also goes by the alias "Stavic" in some markets. The offender named in the indictment manufacturer is the SsangYong Motor Company of Seoul, South Korea.

I think it is telling that even on the manufacturer's website advertising this car, people are depicted turning their backs on it. Not only are the adults in the photo looking away from the Rodius, it seems like they're covering their children's eyes to keep them from being frightened.

From the front, the Rodius looks like just another SUV--bland and harmless in a Toyota Camry sort of way, but not truly ugly. The problem arises because the designer wanted to use the arched roofline that's all the rage these days, but needed to maintain headroom in the back for the third- or fourth-row seat passengers. The result looks strange from the side, and positively disturbing from the rear quarters. The wheel arches are overemphasized, the dimple-and-side-rib combination on the lower doors looks goofy, and the cat's-eye tail lamps aren't helping any--but those are mere trifles. The fatal flaw is that freaky mismatch between the shape of the rear end and the arch theme the designer was so insistent on.

At this point you may be wondering, as I did, if perhaps this is a cultural thing. Is that rear end echoing a design element from traditional Korean art or architecture? Would a Korean person see something familiar and comfortable in it that escapes you and me because we grew up in a different place?

Well, no.

There's nothing particularly Korean about the styling. The stylist responsible for the Rodius--that's "responsible" as in "should be held responsible"--is not even Korean. He's a British citizen, one Ken Greenley, formerly the head of the automotive design course at the Royal College of Art in London. Mr. Greenley has said that the styling of the Rodius was intended to capture the look and feel of luxury yachts. He may have tried to make it look like a yacht, but ... no, I've seen a yacht or two in my day, and that's no yacht. It's not the dinghy for a yacht. It's not even a Mississippi River grain barge. The Rodius looks like Mr. Greenley crossed a Pontiac Aztek and a Dodge Caliber, and managed to bring out the worst of both.

There is another parallel between the Aztek and the Rodius besides their general hideousness. As with the Aztek, if you can overcome your instinctive revulsion and actually bring yourself to drive a Rodius, you'll find there's a reasonably useful large vehicle under all that ugly. At least, that's what the reviewers in the UK (where a seven-passenger version is sold) have written (see here and here). They are supposed to be popular as taxis for that very reason. Even Top Gear, which gleefully seizes every opportunity to mock the Rodius' looks, had to admit that it was "Fantastically practical ... ."

Actually, what they said was "Fantastically practical, right up until the moment that you discover you can’t get your kids into the car because they’ve all run away through fright." Beauty may be only skin deep, but in this instance, ugly goes clean through to the bone.

I'll leave you with a Korean TV commercial for the Rodius, which depicts one driving along a rockbound coast as Neptune himself expresses his displeasure with its unnatural styling, and ends with it parked on what seems to be an alien world orbiting a gas giant in a distant star system.

I don't speak Korean, so I don't know what the voiceover is saying. I think I do know what it should be saying: "The SsangYong Rodius--a thing not of this world!"

--Cookie the Dog's Owner.

The upper photo is by Flickr user flicchre; the other illustrations are screencaps from SsangYong's Korean-language homepage.


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Wow, that Multipla is one UGLY car! Can you say hydrocephalic?

Sorry, that's not even close to Pacer ugly, and Fiat has at least tied the Pacer with the Multiplia. It's just stupid. Felonious stupid.

Ugly, yes. Uglier than an Aztek? Absolutely not. The Aztek remains the gold standard in hideous automobiles.

I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Fiat Multiplia and the AMI 6 certainly give the Rondius a good run for its money at the top of the ugly car list. I was a little disappointed that there were no Citroens in the examples you linked, but like so many other things there are too many ugly cars to give all their own links.

None of the above hold a candle to the 1961 Plymouth.

Good choice, looks like it was styled over the telephone... and the guy's dog helped!

But that it's uglier than the Pontiac Aztec is open to debate..

FIAT 2 is right on. IMHO, the Aztec takes 1st prize.

quote:jdj on January 12, 2010 at 06:58 AM

None of the above hold a candle to the 1961 Plymouth.

uglier than a 62 Lancer? I didn't think that was possible.

Pry the "R" letter of the name badge off. You're left with "Odius". The spelling is close enough.

I expect this will be a popular prank.

Ugliest minivan? OK. You have an argument there. But "ugliest car ever made"? Not even close. NOTHING touches the 1974 AMC Matador.Nothing.

Ugliest car ever made? Not even close. The ugliest car ever made is the taxi cab that brought my mother-in-law from the airport to our house.

Not even close to the ugliest. Any time someone says ugly I think Pontiac Aztec, although there are many others.

Could you fix your tag on the word "seizes"? It's linking to "http://http//".


[Done! --CTDO]

No, it's not bad. That rear is similar to - but not as bad as - the current Honda CR-V. And the rest is far better than the oddly-detailed Honda.

The Citroen Ami has to be one of the ugliest mass produced cars. Brace yourself then click to view a picture:

In fact, just about every recent Acura and Honda has been beaten within an inch of its life with the ugly stick; the Civic, S2000, and Odyssey being the only ones that recovered.

Stretching the imagination a bit, I see a Mercedes influence in the front end and the CR-V profile seemed to get aped. But a yacht? NOT!

Having a little experience in TV production, I noticed in the ad that the editor(s) did a nice job of trimming the ginormous rear end of this thing out of the visuals. Not a surprise. Egad, how did this monstrosity ever get approved?

What were they thinking? This is the kind of car design you get when you aren't paying attention and cross the beams.

Fairly close copy of the Mercedes R wagen. Not in the AMC Gremlin/Pontiac Aztec class.

When even I can't justify the looks of a hunchbacked car, you know it's bad. I'm shocked by the people here who aren't utterly horrified by this thing. That rear end is just godawful. Both the profile and the details are completely broken and misshapen.

I see some people here blaspheming the AMC Matador and Pacer - two cars I think are quite attractive. You might not like the 1970s detailing of the Matador or the 1,000-PSI inflated look of the Pacer, but they both have a fundamental rightness of line that is utterly absent from the Rodius. My god, what an ugly vehicle. Kill it! Kill it with fire!

Dave7, that Citroen is frightening too.

It looks like a Nissan Axxess that "grew up". I wonder if that rear top is detachable?

No where near as ugly as the 1967 Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan:

It's not a car, but the 1964 Dodge Utiline pickup -- like the one my father owned and used for the family car -- is my ugliest all-time vehicle.

C'mon. It's not THAT bad. If it's actually a well made vehicle with a good drivetrain, smooth engine and gearshift, etc., I might be interested if it was priced right. It certainly has a lot of competition in the ugliness department - the Aztek should be at the top of that list.

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