Car Rip-Offs Part 2: Does India Have Copycat Car Design Too?

The auto industry is brimming with creativity. It has to be, since carmakers and their design teams are constantly under pressure to create the next revolution in car styling, and to stay ahead in this ruthless game. The design of the car is often the first thing that catches a buyer's fancy, and manufacturers are known to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the all-important effort to impress them.

However, for whatever reasons, and despite huge budgets, manufacturers are often ‘inspired' quite strongly by other vehicles in the market, some to a greater extent than others. China, as we know is famous for this, and you can read all about that here, but some cars available in India too, have caught our eye with the high level of similarity of key design features.

1. Mercedes-Benz B-Class versus Mahindra Scorpio

So let's begin with the Mahindra Scorpio, shall we? You're probably wondering why we're comparing an SUV with a hatchback, but we'll show you why on the next slide. In the mean time, can you spot the similarity on this page?

What we're on about are the LED Daytime Running Lamps. Mahindra calls them ‘Eyebrow' LEDs, but whatever it's named, it does look awfully close to the Mercedes-Benz B-Class daytime runners, don't you think? We're not saying they look bad, the Scorpio's, they actually look great at dusk and into the night, but they do seem influenced by the German carmaker's light design from way back in 2012.

2. Chevrolet Sail U-VA versus Maruti Suzuki Celerio

Maruti Suzuki seems to be a manufacturer that draws plenty of inspiration from other carmakers, but this we weren't expecting. You'll see what we're on about on the next slide, where we compare the profiles of these two hatches, the hot-selling Maruti Celerio and the Chevrolet Sail U-VA.

Okay, the Celerio's (top) much smaller, but doesn't it bear an uncanny resemblance to the Sail U-VA (bottom)? The bonnet lines, shoulder lines, character lines, front overhangs, and general profiles look closely related. Maruti's flattery to Chevrolet may not have been intentional, but we can't help but notice these things.

3. Honda City versus Maruti Suzuki Ciaz

Next under the design lens is the Maruti Ciaz and the Honda City. The Ciaz is a relatively new entrant to the sedan category, but there are strong instances of influence, especially when looked at closely. The Ciaz makes it to this (black) list twice, and the following is the first of our two observations of this car.

Yup, kudos to you if you've noticed this already, but we're talking about the extremely similar tail lamp designs of the Maruti Ciaz and the Honda City. On top is the City's rear light styling, which we'll remind you came out before the Ciaz's, and below is the tail light design of Maruti flagship model. No point explaining the similarity further, you can see that they're practically identical, right?

4. Honda City versus Toyota Corolla

Japanese carmakers Honda and Toyota have been rivals for decades, but a case of keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, perhaps? Honda's City styling came out first though, so maybe it's Toyota who couldn't resist a little borrowing. See if you can spot a similarity in the designs of these two, before you click through and find out. Hint: It's towards the front of the car somewhere.

What's on our mind is the close resemblance between the side of the bumpers and quarter panels of these cars. While the City's bumper (top) protrudes a little more than the Corolla's (bottom), there's no mistaking that the basic shape of these two designs is almost the same. However, this kind of almost-concentric body panel surround around the wheel forming the curve of the fascia may have first appeared on the Audi TT.

5. Honda Mobilio versus Maruti Suzuki Ciaz

Honda and Maruti Suzuki are already appearing together a little too often, don't you think? Under the microscope now is the Maruti Ciaz again, and this time with the Honda Mobilio. Again, the Mobilio came to our market first, so if there's indeed been some design lifting, Maruti Suzuki will be the one to blame, it seems.

What we're talking about is the lower bumper design, which as you can tell is startlingly similar. The Ciaz seems heavily influenced by the Mobilio, from the lower air dam with its four vertical slats, to the more obvious ‘fin' separating the fog lamp housings from the central air intake. Possibly the strongest copycat contender of this list, the Ciaz is.

6. Range Rover versus Mahindra Scorpio

Back to the new Scorpio again, this time with regard to elements of the rear design. It's not very obvious in these images, but you can expect to be a little surprised at the similarity we saw in the next slide.

There you go. Isn't it plain to see where the LED tail lamp inspiration has come from? Shown in the image on the right is the tail lamp cluster of the 2013 Range Rover, which only seems slightly different with regard to shape of the LEDs. However, the colour and even the light intensity looks heavily influenced. Tata owns JLR, so is Mahindra indirectly a fan of Tata? Grin.

7. Honda Mobilio versus Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire

We're going to take a closer look at one of Maruti Suzuki's latest products, the 2015 Swift Dzire. Any ideas on where there might be a design inspiration? Not very hard, this one as well...

As you can see, the entire fascia of the Swift Dzire seems to be influenced by Honda design cues, especially that of the Mobilio's. We'll start with the chrome section of the grille of the Dzire, which has certainly been inspired by Honda's chrome grille treatment. Even the Civic of yesteryear had a very similar grille design to the Dzire. And down in the lower bumper section, Honda's ‘fins' appear in chromed form on the Dzire. Tut tut, Maruti Suzuki...

8. Range Rover Evoque versus Hyundai i20 Active

This one you might catch without clicking over to the next slide, but we know Hyundai is capable of far better designs than the new i20 Active. The car is the least attractive in the segment, and has instances of not just one, but two ‘inspired' design cues. Kind of surprising, considering it's Hyundai, who are known of late for some of the most attractive cars in the world.

The lower brushed-silver faux grille guard merging into the air dam is where we feel there's been a little cheating, praps? The Range Rover Evoque seen on top is the 2013 model, so this design was obviously out there first, way before the i20 Active was launched. If that isn't enough proof of influence, check out the same area of the Renault Duster, because that's very similar too.

9. Fiat Avventura versus Hyundai i20 Active

Can you spot the second of the similarities the i20 bears to other models available in the country? This time Hyundai stuck to the same segment for what seems like certain influence, specifically to the best looker in the crossover category, the Fiat Avventura. Quite bold of Hyundai, considering it's such a niche market for these kinds of cars.

And there you have it, it's the alloy wheel designs that look whoppingly close. On top is the Fiat Avventura's rim, which seems like the source of inspiration for the Hyundai i20 Active. The only differences are with regard to the finish of the alloys, which seem a touch more shiny in the Hyundai, and small central grooves between the spokes of the ‘star' wheel design.

10. Renault Pulse versus Maruti Suzuki Alto 800

We've saved the least discernible possible design influence for the end of this special story, in that of one particular rear styling element. Maruti Suzuki again, this time with the Renault Pulse as design donor. Then again, we may be imagining it, but you decide whether we're on to something or not.

Notice the grooves or character lines starting from the tail lamps of the Renault Pulse. They slant downward on either side before straightening out in the centre around the Diamond logo and model badging. Do pardon the slightly unclear details of the Pulse image, but look closely and it's there. Now take a look at the same section of the Alto 800. The lines are a little straighter and more prominent, but the way it begins from either side of the tail lamps and straightens out in the centre is really quite similar, isn't it?

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Story first published: Thursday, May 7, 2015, 17:57 [IST]
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