Smiley cars: Mazda and Mercedes-Benz grin and bear it

View photo

A certain percentage of automobile enthusiasts and journalists have heralded the upcoming release of the redesigned Mazda3, for a number of good, sensible reasons like increased room and fuel economy. But some confess a more subjective preference for the new car, one that falls into the "eye-of-the-beholder" category.

Quite simply, the old (and goofy) grin is gone. Introduced a few years ago to much fanfare on the auto show circuit, a number of redesigned or updated Mazda models then sprouted a trademark smiley face grille as part of what has now apparently become a lost and not necessarily missed design language. (Read: "Redesigned 2014 Mazda 3 promises more of a good thing.")

But smiles come and go. Now that Mazda has gotten all serious, Mercedes-Benz has picked up the happy torch with the steering wheel and instrument cluster design of the otherwise dead serious AMG S63. But where the Mazda nose persona was more cheerful and even clownlike (see inset photo), the smiling wheel of the S63 looks a bit sinister, like a robotic monster or even a Transformer.

Maybe that's what buyers of the uber-performance Mercedes-Benz are looking for. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

—Jim Travers

More from Consumer Reports:
2013 New Car Preview
Best and worst used cars
Complete Ratings for 200 cars and trucks

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

View Comments (3)