No matter the industry, trends come and go with the tide — some fizzle out and don’t catch on, some can really hit the mark and truly define an era, while others are just plain awful. The automotive industry is no different. In the ‘50s there was jet-age styling with turbine-inspired intakes and fins sprouting up everywhere. In the ’80s it was turbos and stylized graphics down the door panels.

A couple of years ago, seemingly damn near every sports car needed to have a vent of some size or shape behind the front wheels — a trend we’re still very much in the throes of. Which isn’t as bad as the fake intake vents designers seem to be using as a crutch to fill the massive amount of space on the front of cars. But the most recent and most egregious design quirk that has been quietly swelling in popularity is fake exhausts. Stainless steel pipe ends built into bumpers just for show.

There are even varying levels of this design lie. The first high-profile case was the first generation Lexus IS-F. A car that, at a glance, looked like it had a unique set up: two pipes vertically stacked on either side of the car. But if you took a closer look you’d see the bottom exhaust tip of each pair wasn’t actually connected to anything. And if you look at most luxury cars on the road today, you’ll see the “exhaust tips” aren’t connected to anything other than the bumper. They just masquerade as big, wide-mouthed sport exhausts with puny, seemingly unfinished pipes just sort of hanging out behind them and hidden under the car. Now that you know you won’t be able to unsee it — you’ll notice fake exhausts everywhere.

One of the most recent examples I’ve come across is the 2018 Audi SQ5. I reached out to Audi (and a few other manufacturers) to ask what the point of it was, but none responded. Maybe because there is no good answer. What Audi did (and what other brands are guilty of as well) was design the lower rear bumper to look like it has a chiseled, edgy, performance-orientated quad exhaust; in reality, it’s just black plastic.

Which, plainly speaking, is just a waste of perfectly good plastic. Why even bother? What’s the point? Are we that addicted to the connotation of performance that Audi would have felt ashamed had it not added fakes? At this point, Audi is no better than the guys who bolt on false hood scoops or the ones who buy BMW M and AMG badges and stick them on their Corollas.

Newsflash: guys, we know.

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