Research shows that style is now the top priority when buying a new car, so makers are trying particularly hard to make their latest ware look great.
At the recent Paris Motor Show, I bumped into Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Giorgio Armani of the car world, and we talked about beautiful cars. Giugiaro's CV includes the original VW Golf, the Maserati Bora and the first Scirocco. He said Audi make the most beautiful cars, and when you look at that company's A4, A6, A8 and the new TT coupe, it's hard to gainsay him.
Audi understands that great line matters more than great ornamentation. Its cars are very simple, have a terrific road stance, and tight shutlines - which means your eyes are drawn to the whole shape rather than a series of shapes formed by the panel gaps around the doors and bonnet.
We all have high hopes that the new Jaguar S-type and Rover 75 - the British stars of Birmingham - will be similarly beautiful. But on the early evidence, I have my doubts. The Rover and Jaguar designers may have spent so much time looking over their shoulders at great Rovers and Jaguars from the past, that they haven't had the chance to look ahead.