What's with the disappearing rear door handles?
Modern car designers seem to be getting more and more enamoured with the idea that making the rear doors of cars appear as though they're missing entrance levers is in some way sleek, modern or - God forbid - cool.
It isn't. Door handles are important and they should be there for all to see and feel.
Recent examples of new cars that have disappeared their door handles include the new Suzuki Swift with its daft vertical grabs that look like the sort of thing that would be right at home on a cheap fridge; the flimsy little afterthought-looking things at the high end of the kick line on the rear doors of the Toyota C-HR. You can't tell me these don't look cheap:
The Nissan Juke has secret rear door openers, too – but that’s the least of its design issues…
There are blacked-out plasticky ones on the Holden Spark (which also had them on the previous-generation Holden Barina Spark), and the regular Barina also has the stupid ones behind the rear door glass.
The big black plastic continues on the Honda HR-V, and I just can’t but help to think that the car would look better with conventional rear door handles, like the original HR-V had.
Then there’s otherwise attractive new-generation Nissan Micra, which – I think – has its overall design cheapened by the hidden-handle look, just like its twin under the skin, the Renault Clio, does. Check out the picture below, and tell me that a door handle along that same crease line wouldn't look more cohesive!
Of course there have been others that have come before: the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, for example, has chromey front door grabs that stuck out like dogs balls because there were none on the back doors. It was supposed to make the five-door hatchback look like a coupe. It didn't.
Before those ‘classic’ Italian hatchbacks and sedans there were a few four-wheel drives that had the hidden handle look. The Nissan Pathfinder rocked it across three generations, from 1985 to 2002.
Then there are other takes on door handles that aren't as obvious as we're used to.
Tesla hasn't exactly disappeared its door handles (though they slide in and our of the doors to activate), but the electric car brand does put quite an emphasis on its opening systems, with the 'Falcon Wing' rear doors of the Model X able to sense what's around them and open using a remote control. The front doors of that car can even open automatically - that's either great or ridiculous.
The new-generation Lincoln Continental (below) isn’t sold here, but that doesn't mean its daft disappeared door handles – which are built into the windowsill of the car, rather than sitting on the metalwork – can avoid my distaste.
At least some brands are moving away from these silly styling elements. Obviously the current Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have them, because it’s too sensible for that.
Oh, and the new-generation Honda Civic hatch won’t have them, and that’s good because the previous version’s could be a bit snappy.