Top Gear’s Top 9: the big grilles we actually like edition
Proof, Herr BMW, that cars can look good with massive meshes out front
Audi RS6 Avant
Sort of defies design logic, the new RS6. It’s brash, it’s ultra-aggressive, it’s festooned with slashes and lines and creases and bumps and the grille is straight from Audi’s XXL wardrobe. And yet – while you’d struggle to brand the 592bhp bruiser ‘elegant’, it’s a fabulous-looking, stance-tastic bit of kit.Advertisement - Page continues below
F O R D.
Top Gear fun fact: that actually stands for Fiendishly Oversized Radiator Douchebag.
Jaguar XJ Series I
How beautifully proportioned is that? The original XJ Jag is a classically current ‘three-box’ saloon design. Four circle headlights, and another rectangle between then. It could’ve been designed by a child with only a ruler and some coins to trace a pen around, and yet it’s a masterpiece. There aren’t many cars that would look equally at home taking Her Majesty the Queen to afternoon tea, as dawdling outside a high street bank during an armed heist.Advertisement - Page continues below
Aston Martin DBS
The cynics will tell you the latest DBS Superleggera needs its mahoosive grille so you and I can tell it apart from the slower, cheaper DB11. Aston Martin will protest that the mega-mouth is necessary to cool the 715bhp, 5.2-litre bi-turbo V12 that lurks within. Either way, few cars are graceful enough to pull off a gob this size.
Cadillac de Ville
Or in fact, pretty much all late 1950s and early-to-mid-1960s American tin. An age when no fin was too lethal, no colour too lurid, and no grille too toothy, chromed, and menacing.
The spindle grille, as it’s known, is intricate. It’s in yer face. And yet, Lexus has honed it into a proper signature feature, nowhere better than the gloriously manga and esoteric LC. Except in the UK, where it’s somewhat spoiled by having to fit a pesky front numberplate slap bang in the middle. And at a stroke, a car built for LA dentists looks like it’s been in the chair of torture itself.
Mercedes-AMG GT R
The Panamericana grille is a retro nod to the 300SL racing cars Mercedes campaigned in long-distance races through the 1950s. It’s a bit of a fudge to make that heritage work on a posh A-Class, but the almighty V8 GT R supercar does a much better job of wearing its road-going Hannibal mask.Advertisement - Page continues below
Bentley Flying Spur
There’s something ever-so-statesmanlike and proper, don’t you think old bean, about a luxury limousine – particularly a British luxury limousine – with a ruddy great Parthenon parked out front between the headlamps, what-what? The latest, greatest Bentley Flying Spur is a fine example of what we’re on about. However, it’s not the definitive one, so long as…
Rolls Royce Phantom
…the big Phant is around. A top-spec Roller simply wouldn’t look correct if it didn’t boast a grille apparently modelled on the life-size gates to a stately home. We live in hope that BMW, which owns Rolls-Royce, decides that it only needs one brand with uber-grilles on its books. Soon.Advertisement - Page continues below