Hooniverse Asks- What's the Most Indistinguishable Major Model Redesign?

New S

Almost all vehicles these days go through a model life comprised of a debut, followed – two to three years on – by what’s called a mid-cycle refresh, and then some years after that another major re-think. The mid-cycle changes are typically minor, usually amounting to nothing more than a taillight design change and maybe some new wheels and color options. The major redesigns however are a different story altogether.

Consider if you will the 2004 and 2005 Ford Mustangs. The model year switch-over from SN95 to the Thai-Tang designed S197 was a night and day difference, and even Stevie Wonder could tell the disparate models apart. That’s not always the case however, and in fact on some of the more venerated cars and trucks, such as Porsche’s 911, major model turnovers can evidence far more changes below the skirt than above.

This past week saw the debut of  a car that seems to evidence this evolutionary rather than revolutionary tact on redesign. A major model event, the 2014 Mercedes S-class is nonetheless indistinguishable form the current model at a cursory glance. This is one example of a major redesign that doesn’t seem all that major. Is that the littlest big change ever? Or, does another car or truck come to mind as being even more similar to its predecessor following a big refresh? What, in your mind, is the most indistinguishable major model redesign? 

Image: Motor Trend

49 Comments

          1. The first SBs had flat windshields.
            The hood and front valence were different… and the whole strut thing. Also, the rear window was supposed to be bigger but I'd never notice that.

          1. I was, I was, making a funny (and striking-out). The two type-Is, they looked identical to me.

          2. Same here. I've never liked them enough to learn the differences.

      1. Correct. Using google searches is no substitute for .. Er I meant type 1303. Yeah. Thanks. 🙂

    1. Hasn't that been Honda's thing with the Civic, going back to at least the 80s, that every other generation is a major redesign, followed up by a healthy refresh of that generation? Well, except the 7th generation, that was sort of a dead-end. But 3rd-4th, and 5th-6th are pretty similar.

  1. Dear Mercedes-Benz, yes we get it that this is the new, more affordable Maybach 57.
    I just want the W140 tail lights back, instead of what is happening there. (I dont want to talk about what is happening there, it's too upsetting)

      1. i don't think these (LS 400 / ES 300) are really major redesigns though..they seem to fall under the midcycle refresh to me

        1. They were pretty major under the bodywork, as I recall. They just didn't change the bodywork.

        2. The 2nd gen LS400 was "over 90% new" and on a longer wheelbase but you'd never know to look at the thing.

    1. Either one of those is a Proper Car and had I sufficient ill-gotten gains I'd have one or both.

    1. I think the MINI owners want it that way… so they can tell their pals they can tell the difference between the Mk1 and Mk2.

    2. The first gen is nicest. Have you seem the latest ones? The Clubman looks like a Chrysler 300 had sex with a milk float.

    1. Headlamps, front bumper covers and wheels were all different.
      Well-known among Maranello owners is the chase scene in the movie Bad Boys 2 where Will Smith's car changes from a 550 to a 575 and back several times!

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