The best part of buying a new car for many people is its shiny, new look. That trend is now changing however. Matt finish is the name of the game, if you want your new vehicle to be labelled as an exclusive ride.
It started initially as a fad among celebrities and has now morphed into the latest new trend in the automotive world. Now, we have people willing to pay thousands more for a new car with a dull, flat matt finish. To someone who is not aware of the trend, the new car with the matt finish might look as if it needs some TLC with plenty of wax, but those who are interested in keeping up with the Joneses now want this matt look.
According to those who like the new look, a matt finish is symbolic of exclusivity and gives their vehicle a cool factor that says it is not just another mass produced vehicle.
Rossella Guasco, the lead color and materials designer for Fiat Chrysler, based in Turin, Italy feels that a matte finish gives a car a sporty, technical character that is part of its design language. FCA was one of the first companies to begin offering such finishes, 13 years ago for the high-end Alfa-Romeo and Lancia models.
Initially it was available only for the most expensive sports cars like models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW. Now the trend has become more widespread as was seen in the recent LA Auto Show, where the Mercedes AMG GT3 and E63S were exhibited in a matt finish. Volvo was another auto manufacturer that showcased this trend, displaying its top-of-the-line V90 SUV in matt gray at the show.
The matt trend has slowly trickled down to other value-oriented brands like Hyundai’s Veloster. According to a company spokesman, blue and gray matt finishes now account for up to 5 percent of the company’s sales. He said the matt finish helps make the model look sportier and more unique.
Other mass market vehicles which are available in matt finish are the sports versions of the Fiat 500 and 500L, as well as the company’s Jeep Renegade.
The matt look not only costs more when it comes to the initial price tag for the vehicles, but also requires more funds and time for the maintenance of the finish. In the case of the Veloster, buyers have to pay an additional USD 800 for a matte finish. When it comes to Audi’s RS7 or S8 sports sedans, they need to pay USD 6,000 more for a standard matte color, or USD 6,800 for a custom matt shade.
The reason for the additional cost is that cars getting a matt finish need to be removed from the standard production line though the technique for applying the matt finish is the same as that for a glossy finish, with the vehicle first getting a primer coat, followed by the pigment layer and then finally a clear coat.
The distinctive feature of the matt finish is that unlike a glossy finish in which the clearcoat has uniform smooth waxlike surface, the matt finish comprises many microscopic hills and valleys, thus deflecting light in many directions and giving a dull look to the paint. When it comes to maintenance, it is a challenge to retain these hills and valleys as anything that alters the look like getting the car washed in an automatic car wash, or buffing a scratch can have a huge impact on the look. Special soaps and cleaning cloths are also needed to keep the look. One key benefit of the matt look is that it does not show swirl marks like a standard polished car, as the paint is not buffed till it shines.
Instead of using matt paint, a cheaper alternative to get the same look is to use a vinyl wrap. This process takes only 24 hours and almost the same effect. If the owner wishes to retain the same shade, but just wants a matt finish, clear vinyl is used. Essentially, it is like putting a big sticker on the car and if the wrap is of good quality, it can last for as long as five to six years without peeling.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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