Pontiac Aztek is a true number one in the “world of the ugly”. It took it only four years to win the title of the world’s ugliest car according to almost all automotive magazines. This work of a genius can be compared only to the Buick Rendezvous. Although the exterior of the latter is still not that radical.
A rather depressing appearance of both of them confuses experienced car enthusiasts and leaves them at a loss. Even the name of this car is spelled either with the British “c” or with the American “k”. Go figure what this car exists for.
But let’s take a closer look. All automotive magazines were abuzz with articles about this car in 2001–2005. Its polls were falling and mentioned in hundreds of statistics and, perhaps, hundreds of car related publications. Isn’t that fame? At the cost of its exterior but still... Well, they often judge the book by its cover.
For one thing, Pontiac did produce several outstanding models. Those were the cars that used to bring fame to the company. Starting from 1893, the American company Pontiac Motor Division was rather successful on the market. First were the buggies, then came the cars fitted with six-cylinder engines. The Pontiac Silver Streak was especially popular. It was a truly legendary retro supercar produced in 1935. This car triggered the company’s growth. Forty years later, in the beginning of the 1990s, Pontiac started experiencing financial difficulties.
The Aztek is a post-crisis masterpiece. The nickname of the record-holder among all ugly cars ever produced stuck to Pontiac in a rather awkward but well-deserved way.
But how did that happen? And why does this car annoy everyone so much? Where is its steering wheel located and how is the car started? Well, the steering wheel is in its place but what concerns everything else… Oh, my!
Sideways, it looks like a regular crossover. Especially when finished in orange metallic. When offered in grey colour, it is just IMPOSSIBLE to look at. I wouldn’t call the car’s front part scary but it definitely arouses some antipathy. It’s like spotting a cockroach in your meal. And the cockroach is moving!
According to its technical specifications, it’s a rather decent vehicle. However, even the 3.35-litre V6 engine delivering 188 hp wouldn’t be able to save the situation when the headlights look like disgustful spider’s eyes. Well, it’s a good thing that it has four wheels instead of eight.
Nevertheless, Pontiac Aztek deserves some commendation as well. In 2001, at the peak of its production, this car took first place in frontal offset tests. The tests were conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (USA). For the first time in the history of similar crash tests, the car was able to score 4 out of 5 stars.
Yet still, not an excellent mark.
Designed for recreation activities and travelling, the Pontiac Aztek is a combination of a SUV and a minivan. Unfortunately, that was a rather losing combination.
The obscure and harsh design required urgent facelifting after the first year of life. It put some of the motorists off any desire to purchase a means of transportation. Nobody wanted to buy the Aztek either in standard trim at the price of $24,000, or even the Versatrak all-wheel-drive version priced at $20,900.
No one found appealing a special attachable tent or an inflatable airbed, which could merge with the wrinkles of this fat turkey so easily.
Having produced several disappointing models, Pontiac ceased to exist quite soon. The last Pontiac G6 model rolled off the production lines in 2009.
Almost 10 years later, we are still terrified by Aztek’s exterior and discuss its drawbacks. A rattletrap that haunts our minds for so many years, hiding in our worst nightmares, deserves some respect. Even if this respect is somewhat ugly.
There is always room for imperfection as well. However, in my opinion, the Aztek is a regular crossover with piquant design. But that’s enough about the exterior as our next record-holder should out dazzle it in everyone’s eyes or, should I say, ears. Next in our “Records” column you will read about the loudest winners in “car sound” competitions.