Which Car's Design Captures Our Attention the Most?

Our new eye-tracking study reveals which cars we can't stop staring at…

On average there are roughly 30,000 different parts in a car, and pulling those parts together into something that conforms to safety regulations whilst also looking sleek and exciting is no easy feat. Auto design that provokes and inspires is a difficult task, but it's one of the most important elements of selling cars - we know that how a car looks from the outside can be a real deal breaker for buyers. With car design being such a huge factor in people's car-buying process, we wanted to see which of the world's most popular everyday car models, luxury supercars and electric vehicles are capturing and holding our attention the most when it comes to their exterior aesthetics.

Using a novel eye-tracking software, we conducted a study of 40 of the world's best-selling autos to reveal which motors catch our attention the quickest - and hold on to it the longest. We tracked the time it took for participants' eyes to focus on a particular car model, as well as the amount of time they spent staring at a particular model before their gaze went elsewhere. These two metrics were cross-referenced to create a weighted score that reveals which car models are truly the most eye-catching.

The Top 10

Best Looking
Everyday Cars

When it comes to everyday cars, even if their primary purpose is fairly functional, we all have our visual preferences - some of us like to do the school run in something sporty-looking, and some of us enjoy doing the weekly shop in a dramatic-looking 4x4. Our study showcased a variety of best-selling everyday cars to find which ones stand out from the crowd.

German automotive manufacturer BMW took first place in our study, with the 3 Series garnering an 'eye-catching' score of 84%, followed by the Volvo XC40 and the Volkswagen Golf.

The rest of the top 10 included some notable models too, with the subcompact Mercedes-Benz A-Class also scoring above 70%, commanding SUV the Land Rover Defender scoring a respectable 68% and the iconic MINI Cooper getting an 'eye-catching' score of 61%.

Rank Car Score
#1 BMW 3 Series 84%
#2 Volvo XC40 82%
#3 Volkswagen Golf 71%
#4 Hyundai Tucson 70%
#5 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 70%
#6 Toyota Yaris 68%
#7 Land Rover Defender 68%
#8 Audi A3 61%
#9 MINI Cooper 61%
#10 Nissan Qashqai 60%

#1 BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 Series
With a fiercely loyal fanbase, the BMW 3 Series is a fantastic all rounder. Currently, in its seventh iteration, the model has sold more than 15 million units since it was introduced back in 1975. The current model certainly hasn't left BMW enthusiasts disappointed either, chock full of new technology while being its nimblest and fastest self. With participants fixating on an image of the latest 3 Series for just over 4 seconds on average (the longest out of all the everyday cars) and taking just 2.79 seconds to find it on the screen, it gained an eye-watering, 'eye-catching' score of 84% - making it the best looking everyday car in the study.

#2 Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40
The smallest SUV that Volvo offers, the XC40 delivers in a big way - from serious comfort to cruising refinement. With an impeccable minimalist interior and serious tech advances, think Pilot Assist - a suite of intelligent driver-assist features designed to make city driving safer, the XC40 has sold over 200,000 units since it was released, and it’s not hard to see why. Participants in our study took just over 2 seconds on average to fixate on its image, and 3.18 seconds on average gazing at its design - resulting in its ranking as the second most eye-catching car that we analysed.

#3 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf
Ranking as the third most eye-catching car in our study, participants spent 2.26 seconds on average fixating on the design of the Golf, and with an average time of just 2.1 seconds to fixate on it, it scored 71% overall. German brand Volkswagen introduced the first iteration of the model back in 1974, meaning it's been around for almost five decades. Having had huge success with the Beetle, they needed to provide an affordable hatchback that lived up to the hype, and with the Golf going on to become the second best-selling car model of all time (selling over 35 million units), it certainly has.

The Top 10

Best Looking
Luxury Cars

Luxury cars are truly in another league of their own, with drivers spending extraordinary amounts of money in order to own some of the world's most powerful vehicles. Whether it's a status symbol or satisfies a need for speed - these cars really are some of the most beautiful in the world from a design perspective. In our study the Porsche 911 passed with flying colours, achieving the highest score out of all car categories (everyday, luxury and electric) with a score of 91%. The top three most eye-catching supercars are rounded-out with the Lexus LC500 and the Ferrari F40.

The rest of the top 10 consisted of a variety of other impressive models, seven of which were given 'eye-catching' scores of over 70%. The Italian brands held gazes for the longest, with the Lamborghini Urus and Porsche 911 holding participants' eyes in place for 2.40 and 2.50 seconds respectively, while the German Bugatti Veyron was the car that took the shortest amount of time for participants' eyes to flicker to it.

Rank Car Score
#1 Porsche 911 91%
#2 Lexus LC500 88%
#3 Ferrari F40 88%
#4 Lamborghini Urus 83%
#5 Bugatti Veyron 78%
#6 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 74%
#7 Audi R8 74%
#8 Lotus Emira 66%
#9 McLaren 720S 65%
#10 BMW i8 64%

#1 Porsche 911

Porsche 911
German brand Porsche have certainly made a name for themselves during their tenure as automotive specialists, but the 911 is where they really made their mark with luxury sports cars. The most popular and mass-produced sports car in the world, the 911 is the most beloved of all Porsche models and has been since its inception in the 1960s. Avid fans will have noticed similarities between the 911 and the Volkswagen Beetle, largely in part due to both cars being designed by the same person - Ferdinand Porsche. With an impressive (and the highest in our entire study) score of 91%, the 911 is arguably the world's most eye-catching car.

#2 Lexus LC500

Lexus LC500
Japanese brand Lexus almost took centre stage in the eye-catching competition with the LC500, a super suave coupe that somewhat took the automotive industry by surprise - more than holding its own amongst its competitors, the Porsche 911 and BMW 8 Series. Its sleek design, which truly stands out among other sports cars, managed to hold participants’ gazes for just 1.93 seconds on average. Still, it only took the same participants on average 2.06 seconds for their eyes to flicker to its position on the screen, the second shortest time to the first fixation amongst all the luxury cars - cementing it as the second most eye-catching luxury car in our study, with a score of 88%.

#3 Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40
The F40 was the last Ferrari to be overseen by Enzo Ferrari, an Italian racing car driver and legendary automotive manufacturer, and it was created in order to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary. The car itself has become synonymous with racing cars, a legendary powerhouse of a vehicle that at the time of its release in 1987 was the only street-legal car that could supersede 200mph. Within our study the Ferrari F40 also scored 88%, placing it in equal standing with the Lexus LC500; study participants gazed at the vehicle for 2.05 seconds on average, and took just 2.18 seconds to find it on the screen.

The Top 10

Best Looking
Electric Cars

Electric cars are some of the newest on the market, and for many their early designs left much to be desired. However, with time and investment, EVs have made huge leaps in their aesthetic appeal, with brands like Porsche and Tesla pushing the market to create ever-more attractive designs.

Our study ranked the Porsche Taycan as the most eye-catching, with a score of 86%, followed by the Tesla Model 3 (84%) and the MG4 EV (64%). Other notable entries in the top 10 include the likes of South Korean brand Kia's EV6, the MINI Electric and the Audi e-tron.

Rank Car Score
#1 Porsche Taycan 86%
#2 Tesla Model 3 84%
#3 MG4 EV 64%
#4 Kia EV6 62%
#5 MINI Electric 60%
#6 Audi e-tron 60%
#7 Polestar 2 56%
#8 Vauxhall Mokka Electric 49%
#9 Volkswagen ID.3r 44%
#10 Renault ZOE 44%

#1 Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan
The Porsche Taycan, a car that charges faster than an iPhone, is the German manufacturer's first fully electric sports car and comes out as the most 'eye-catching' EV in our study. They've also taken their commitment to the eco-friendly manufacturing process seriously, with completely CO2-neutral processes in place all along the production chain, and the interior is made from innovative recycled materials too.

#2 Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3
Built to challenge the omnipresent BMW 3 Series, the Tesla Model 3 comes out as the second most eye-catching EV in the study. This sedan has some unique design features that are clearly holding our attention such as the absence of a front grille (since EVs have lower cooling needs) a panoramic windscreen and a tapering rear. For those with a passing interest in car design, the Model 3 is quite recognisable, and with an 'eye-catching' score of 84%, the study shows that the general public finds it distinctive enough to warrant a good look.

#3 MG4 EV

The MG4 EV design has divided reviewers' opinions - but whether you love it or hate it, this car captures your attention more than most. Its bold angles and strong lines combine with the twin aero rear spoiler to create a chassis that people can't take their eyes off. The MG4 EV scored a respectable 'eye-catching' score of 64% and its more adventurous design marks it out from other MGs. Its angular style certainly makes it look very expensive, despite it being one of the cheaper EVs on the market.

If our study has piqued your desire for a new set of wheels for the new year, why not consider selling your car to buy yourself something different, perhaps even eye-catching!

Sell your car


40 of the world's best-selling car models were compiled and divided into every day, luxury and electric car categories. A study group of 32 persons were shown a series of images depicting the aforementioned vehicles and by using eye-tracking software, participants' eye movements were tracked and recorded to show the average time it took to fixate on each car image, as well as the average time spent looking at each image. We then combined these scores using an equal weighting formula, to assign a score out of 100 for each car and rank them according to which one participant's eyes were drawn to the fastest, and which ones held their gazes for the longest. The resulting scores have been used to rank the cars, according to which ones are truly the most 'eye-catching'.

All data is correct as of December 2022.