The ‘angry car’ is on the rise: is it affecting our driving behaviour?  |  RTL News

The ‘angry car’ is on the rise: is it affecting our driving behaviour? | RTL News

You may have noticed that many new cars these days have a sleeker design. According to experts, this means that the “friendly face” of cars is disappearing, and that they have seemed a little more “angrier” in recent years. Does this affect our driving behavior?

“In general, you could say that cars are becoming increasingly ‘angry,'” says Autoweek’s Frank Jacobs. So-called “angry cars” often share the same characteristics. “SUVs often have a high nose. The headlights are pulled wide, or ‘scalloped,’ to get the bull effect. Some people put stickers on the headlights to make them look angrier. This gives you an interior mirror effect, because with the headlights Hacks: In your rearview mirror, you’re thinking: Get out of the way.


Consumer psychologist Patrick Wessels agrees. “If you’re driving more aggressively, it’s often not that you’re driving harder, but that people who see your car in their inside mirror think you’re driving aggressively. That affects the rest of the traffic.”

“In general, the cars don’t look friendly,” Wessels continues. “But now you notice it’s more modern, partly because of electricity. Everything is more compact, not necessarily more comfortable or friendly.” According to experts, it can be compared to tightly furnished homes. “It’s very stereotypical, but a house that looks elegant in a museum is not necessarily very attractive and comfortable. When you design cars more tightly, there is a risk that they will look a bit more austere.”

New course

Brands often consciously choose a sleeker (or “angrier”) design. “Every brand creates its own design language,” says Jacobs. “Broad lines and conventions have been set on a new path. A good example is Renault: these cars were already empty fifteen years ago. Around 2010, a Dutch designer took over and came up with very stable and elegant lines. With this Renault it has become “Really successful.”

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Image © Edity NL
Renault Twingo from 2012 and Renault Rafale from 2024.

According to automotive journalists, “strong” people often choose BMW cars, for example. “Or they are people who want to be seen as strong,” Jacobs explains. “BMWs always look very aggressive anyway, and that’s the Pitbull of this world. Of course you have to be careful with stereotypes, but in general you can guess someone’s personality based on their car.” Porsche and Audi also have a more “cool” image. “In general, German cars are a little more compact.”


On the other hand, more “empathic” vehicles can be recognized by their network, among other things. “The grille of a car can be funny,” Jacobs says. “For example, the grille is actually Mazda’s smiley face. The larger headlights make for prettier eyes.” The Fiat also looks friendlier. “The Fiat looks at me and hugs me,” Jacobs says. “The Fiat 500, for example: what a beautiful car. The same goes for the Mini. It’s designed more for a female audience. Although of course these are stereotypes, because anyone can buy any kind of car.”

Mini has shown for years that things can be done differently, and Wessels agrees. “Many women feel attracted to that.” This is partly because advertising responds differently to the needs of men and women. “Men use a different font which is very ‘angular’. Women see letters with less angles. Men also emphasize: ‘You can accelerate fast with this car.’ For women, it is: ‘You can improve the world in this electric car.'”

Road rage

The question remains whether this is really the case. Friendlier cars will at least make for quieter traffic. “If everyone had a nice car, it could solve 10 percent of road rage,” Wessels says. “But 90 percent of it is simply being alone in the car and getting from point A to point B quickly.”

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A Volvo 144 from the 1970s and a Volvo XC60 from 2018.Image © Edity NL
A Volvo 144 from the 1970s and a Volvo XC60 from 2018.

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