The Fiat Panda (2012) and the cult of the 'squircle'

Published: 06 November 2012

Squircles are the designer's latest friend – the new motif which you'll find adorning many new cars, from BMW's ugly-as-sin 1-series to the new Fiat Panda.

I drove the Fiat Panda TwinAir last night and couldn't move for the damn things. Squircles here, squarcles there. About the only thing left round was the steering wheel - and even then the boss in the middle was a rounded–off square.

So what is a squircle exactly?

It does what it says on the tin: it's a geometric shape – half square, half circle. And the Fiat Panda is dripping with squircles. Or should that be squarcles?

The stylists' in Turin to-do list was obviously topped by a command to ban any straightforward rings in the Panda's design.

I counted 27 squircles in the cabin this morning. And to be honest, I lost count. If you stare at them too long, your eyes suffer from squircle blindness…

Twenty-seven squircles in the new Fiat Panda! Surely not?

If you're bored at the office today, count 'em in the pictures above. They're everywhere in the piccolo Panda's cabin, from the dials in front of you (even the pivot around which the needles arc are squircles) to the cupholders. Round shapes are banned and funky squircles are in.

Nowhere escapes the squircle's grasp: squared-off circles dictate the shape of the third side window, loudspeakers, ventilation controls, gearlever, cupholders, even the stereo joystick controller... All wonky circles.

And what's wrong with that? Each to their own. One man's squircle is another man's in-vogue fashionable flourish. I just worry that they might look a bit, well, 1970s retro before too long. Others in the office disagree.

But then, like all fashions, car design trends go round and round. In squircles, naturally.

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet