What is a car restyling

What is a car restyling

Every motorist has heard such a concept as a restyling. But do you know what exactly under it hides, why and for what reasons manufacturers carry out this procedure and does it always mean only small, ordinary changes? So, what is a car restyling?

Each car model has its own lifespan at the assembly line, usually equal to seven years. Some cars have it shorter, others have longer, but the average duration of production is exactly the same. Brand identity changes, technology makes a step forward, which means that companies have to make changes in appearance, interior and design within one generation of the model. The totality of these actions is called auto restyling.

What does the concept of restyling include?

In fact, this is any innovation, somehow drawing a line between the younger model and its predecessor, as well as delaying the obsolescence of the car. A restyling can be anything. In some cases it is barely noticeable, while in others it represents numerous large-scale improvements, both stylistic and technical. Rejuvenation allows the cars to linger on the conveyor for a couple of some years, though sometimes it is enough to speak about a much longer period.

When you don’t want, but it is necessary

Restyling can be planned, but sometimes modernization is done involuntarily, for example, due to market reaction to the stylistics, which was not too successful, too radical or very unusual for the brand. How not to remember BMW of designer Chris Bangl’s times, especially the long-suffering sedan of 7 series generation E65/E66, at the restyled version of which not a lazy man threw a stone.

The stylistic side of the issue

Restyling is first of all an attempt to make the appearance of the car more modern and thus to change the perception of already-familiar model. What changes of the exterior and interior of the car can be? Absolutely any – sometimes designers are limited to a gentle “face lift”, and in other cases, go to great lengths, boldly reshaping the body and interior space of the car. An example of moderate restyling is the Volvo S80 of the second generation, which the company has updated point by point and with a sense of proportion. First the designers went through the exterior, and later remembered the interior, and it was updated more than the body.

Sometimes stylists get carried away and a car appears, noticeably different from the one that was produced before restyling. Similar thing happened with Mercedes-Benz E-Class W212 generation, which completely changed front end and changed style after the restyling. There is nothing surprising about it – the company introduced new design solutions and changed the E-Class under the modern trends so that the cars were not similar.

A simple charger with their own hands

Technical restyling

In the stereotypical view, the restyling of a car is a complex of cosmetic changes in the exterior such as the installation of new optics and bumpers, innovations in the cabin (for example, modified center console and multimedia system, according to fashion trends) and other nuances. Indeed, after the upgrade procedure cars look a little different or noticeably different from their pre-reformed counterparts. And what about upgrades of technical stuffing? What changes in the car? We should dwell on it especially.

In fact, restyling is often accompanied by change of engine lineup, modification of existing units or addition of new motors to the palette. The former gearboxes are replaced by more progressive ones, providing improved dynamic performance and fuel efficiency. A striking example can be found with the same German manufacturers. For example, the famous BMW 5 Series E60, which was produced from 2003 to 2010, has gone through the procedure of rejuvenation and modernization of the engine lineup. In the era of the mass introduction of turbochargers, cars had atmospheric units before the upgrade, and with the upgrade came engines with a supercharger system.

Shutterstock / VOSTOCK Photo

In some cases, cars are updated more than once. For example, the third-generation Mazda 6, which has been in production since 2012, has been upgraded twice, and both times the car received fairly significant innovations. Thus, the second upgrade brought not only “cosmetics” – other bumpers, grille and taillights, but also twisted the front panel, improved noise insulation, a stiffer body, reconfigured the chassis and a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine.

However, there are also more large-scale restyling – it is enough to recollect evolution of the second generation Range Rover. Initially, the SUV came out with BMW engines and electrical equipment, but during the first modernization, the line of units changed, electronics revision was carried out, and later the car received the Terrain Response driving mode selection system. The second restyling was remembered not only by quite noticeable external upgrades, but also by new, more powerful units.

Restyling – good or bad?

At a cursory glance it may seem that the restyled car is always better than its predecessor at least because of the manufacturer’s attempt to improve it, to make it more modern, more comfortable, correcting the previous flaws. Really, the updated cars quite often surpass their predecessors in ride properties, comfort and technological progressiveness. But sometimes the revisions bring reasons for upsetting, the operation can become expensive and sometimes questionable and costly already for the second owner.

Alas, one does not have to go far to find examples. It is enough to remember a number of German car models, in particular, some creations of Volkswagen Group, which were produced in the middle and second half of the zero years. In particular, many models after the modernization received quite problematic engines with direct injection, although their pre-reform versions were equipped with old, proven and more reliable units. Often reputable publications recommend to purchase exactly restyled German automobiles of the recent past, because there are fewer problems with them, the service life is more predictable, and operation is cheaper.

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What is a restyling of a car – a trick or a bargain?

Restyling is a concept that is firmly embedded in the vocabulary of everyone who is even slightly interested in the modern car industry. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the metamorphosis that happens to some car models. Six months to a year – and a new redesign of the model comes to the market, even more stylish and unusual than the previous version.

Of course, not all models change with such speed. On the contrary, sometimes the established design emphasizes the solidity and stability of the style, and it concerns mostly the cars of upper-middle class. But also models of representative cars every now and then are overtaken by slight facelift, which more often makes the image more integral and finished. What you should know about the restyling and what changes happen to the car – this is our article about it.

What is a restyling?

Restyling refers to changes to the model of the car, affecting mainly the exterior, interior and quite a little – technical parameters. Even the word “restyling” itself means changing or updating the style. Sometimes this update may be quite small, “cosmetic”, and it is more often called a facelift. But in most cases, a restyling significantly changes the overall perception of the car model. Up to the fact, that the harmless “herbivore” turns into a real beast, at least externally. A typical example is the third generation Ford Focus. The original design is very calm and businesslike, but restyling has completely changed the overall style, adding dynamics and aggressiveness.

Why would a car need a restyling?

You can talk a lot about design trends, customer desires, the market and changing fashions, and it will all be true. But the main reason why automakers make a restyling is the desire to sell the same car a second time.

What is a restyling of a car - is it a trick or a bargain?

Judge for yourself: it takes time and a huge amount of money to develop a model, its design and technical base. And here is a new car on the market, which is somehow bought. It takes a year and a half, and – bam! – There is a restyled model in the market, even cooler and more stylish than the previous one. It is only necessary to slightly touch up the “muzzle”, optics, add chrome and to increase the screen diagonal of the multimedia system in the cabin. Almost the new car!

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An example of such restyling is the well-known Renault Duster. While in Europe, the second generation model is being sold (the one with the rear optics with a cross-shaped “sight”), for some countries (in particular, India) restyled the first generation model was launched. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s a response to market demands, which have been carefully studied and processed.

Read also: Top 20 crossovers under 1200000 rubles: video reviews, descriptions, characteristics, rating 2022-2021

But let’s not be cynical. The requirements of the market and fashion trends in design have not gone anywhere. Therefore, the new look of the old car model has long been not a luxury, but a means to combat the competition. It often happens that even before a new model is released on the market, restyling work is already underway. This helps to release the car before competitors steal the most interesting ideas, and at the same time shorten the period of updating the model to add “zest” to it.

So why would a car need a restyling?

We have already partially answered this question: to increase sales while reducing costs. But there are other reasons forcing the automaker to make such expenditures.

What is a restyling of a car - is it a trick or a bargain?

Work on mistakes. To understand how important it is, we must remember that in most cases, the model of the car provides for several modifications. They differ in engines, gearboxes, some parameters of optics, electronic “stuffing”, and wheelbase. And sometimes it happens that a particular engine model is not too successfully combined with the weight of the car, or is not suitable for a particular market at all (for example, a car is sent to us that requires high quality gasoline. How long will it last?) In this case, restyling is a great excuse to remove unsuccessful engines or gearboxes from the lineup, and simultaneously “tighten up” the appearance.

Design and interior. You also can’t forget about beauty. A lot can change in a year in trends of automobile design, for example, after an exhibition or an auto show. When the general style changes in the market are on the horizon, you need to urgently adjust your fresh models to the right trend. It sounds strange, but such improvements are mostly beneficial. Chrome, moldings, sills, optics, door handles, a different radiator grille – all this can completely change the look of the car.

And do not forget that for electronics and computer technology a year is a long enough time, and two years is a huge time span during which there may be 2-3 innovations immediately implemented by major manufacturers. For example, liquid crystal screen matrices evolved every six months. Or the standards of mobile communications, requiring new capacities for data transmission and at the same time forming a new demand.

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Types of restyling

Depending on the reasons for having to do a redesign, there are two types of restyling: planned and unplanned.

  1. Planned restyling is the most common. Any car model, even the most popular, is slowly losing its appeal to buyers, because other automakers are offering such tempting ideas. Pursuit of a customer becomes the main reason for planned restyling: investments are relatively small, but at an output we receive a car updated according to the latest fashion.
  2. Unplanned restyling is a more complicated case. It is done in order to keep the new car model “afloat”. For example, some automakers respond to criticism about the design, assembly quality of certain components, convenience and comfort of using the car. If the situation does not apply to warranty cases (when cars are recalled for sale), it is possible to eliminate the causes of dissatisfaction of future buyers with a restyling.

What is being changed in the car?

If the manufacturer plans a facelift, that is, a style update, the changes affect the exterior of the car.

  • The shape of the bumper, fenders, grille, a little less often change the hood;
  • Rear bumper, trunk lid.
  • Trim is added: sills, moldings, chrome or black details
  • The front and rear optics are changed to match the new style.
  • New, as a rule, larger-diameter wheels and tires are added.
  • Sometimes the interior trim is changed.

What is a restyling of a car - is it a trick or a bargain?

A deeper restyling includes not only exterior changes, but also improvements in technical parameters.

  • The manufacturer can add an engine to the model lineup or, on the contrary, remove an unsuccessful one from production.
  • Add another variety of gearbox (for example, release a restyled model with a variator).
  • The braking system can change discs and pads in accordance with the new diameter of the wheels.
  • Electronics are being added, in particular the new instrumentation on the center console.
  • New firmware, new electronic assistants.

The situation with the replacement of the engine occurs more often when a restyled model is prepared for a specific market. For example, for countries where diesel cars are in greater demand than gasoline cars, or for regions where leaded fuel is used. The same applies to the gearbox: not all drivers have “tasted” variators or DSG, sometimes a simple “manual” can provide a commercial success.

What in a car, as a rule, do not change?

Considering that the restyling is an economical variant of the model renewal, there is no sense to touch those units, which demand serious development.

  • The platform is not changed: the structure of the suspension and running gear, wheelbase, and supporting part.
  • The roof, doors, rear fenders remain unchanged.
  • The internal layout, except for the engine and transmission, also does not change – it is too difficult to recalculate the exhaust, fuel supply, cooling systems, etc.
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Basically this is why the restyled car can not be called a new model, although it can seriously differ in appearance. The manufacturer introduces a new model only where it is possible without serious engineering intervention and global redesigns. Even if a new engine is added, it is always a “well forgotten old engine” which was used on other models of the same brand before.

Why not just release a new generation?

That’s a great question. Surely, when making cost and revenue projections for the next restyling, economists and engineers at the auto concern are looking for an answer.

You should agree that the new generation should differ from the previous one not only in the “muzzle” and chrome sills. If you launch a new product on the market, you need to invest in it the most modern innovations that science can give. It concerns both technical base, and electronic “stuffing”, and design. To create a new generation of the model it is necessary to change everything in it, from steering to the shape of a silencer.

Only then the car will be in demand for 5-7 years, which are necessary to “repay” the invested means.

Yes, money “rules” everything and sometimes it is easier to make a restyling of a model to correspond the changed tendencies of the market. And while the updated cars sell, to develop a new masterpiece.

Examples of restyling, before and after photos

Below, in the photo, you can visually see examples of cars before and after restyling.

Restyling Ford Mondeo- photo

Restyling of Chevrolet Cruze - photo

Restyling Toyota Rav 4 - ajnj

Restyling of Porsche Cayenne - photo

Restyled ŠKODA - photo

Kia Rio restyling - photo

Restyling of Mazda CX-5 - photo

Ford Focus restyling - photo

Restyling of TOYOTA Camry - photo

BMW M5 restyling - photo

Restyling of HYUNDAI SOLARIS - photo


No automaker carries out a restyling just for fun: the tastes of potential buyers in the region where the car model is sold (or plans to be sold) are carefully studied beforehand. New ideas in design are also taken into account, because in the car world fashion changes as quickly as on the podium, and what a couple of years ago looked stylish, suddenly became perceived as dull and boring.

Does it make sense to overpay for an updated car or to buy a restyled model? The answer to this question lies in how and for what purpose the redesign was made. Probably, changes have eliminated serious defects, and it is possible, you will have to pay only for turn signalers on mirrors. But in any case, the bright new look of the already familiar line of cars leaves no one indifferent.

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