The verdict is split on the styling of Google's self-driving techno-koala. Some of us love it, some of us hate it, but mostly it's been met with a resounding "meh". Chris Bangle takes it a step further, saying the "'face' is supposed to be cutesy but is awful weak."
The oft-maligned and always outspoken former design head for BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce attempts (and fails) to set the mood in a statement to Fast Company:
Here we are seeing little footage pieces to the tune of a Playskool infant's toy and it is hard not to come away feeling My First Car is rolling by ... but in this case it would be My First Non-Car.
Bangle compares the overall shape to the Beetle, with its single curve and bulbous body. Then asks, "Is it a cartoon or not? Their headquarters is near that of Pixar, but evidently not near enough."
Peter Stevens, who headed up the design side of McLaren and Lotus, weighs in as well, calling it "unsophisticated and naïvely detailed" before saying:
The concept of just sitting there and doing something else rather than driving suggests a passive approach to life, which I find rather sad. There is nothing wrong with cute, nothing wrong with small, nothing wrong with efficient but everything wrong with weak design. This car doesn't need to look like a Ford Mustang or a Camaro but it does need to suggest that Google's vision for future transportation is an attractive one that we will all want to buy into.
For the ultimate four-wheeled appliance, it doesn't have to stoke the flames of people's hearts. But as Mr. Torchinsky points out, "The key thing to remember here is that what Google has made here is not a car. It's a robot." And if you keep that in mind, the function always comes before form – just look at Google Calendar.