Best car adverts: the crazy, the funny and the downright weird

Toyota HiLux TV ad
26 Sep, 2014 2:00pm Steve Walker

We count down the best car adverts of recent times - featuring chickens, ballerinas, boxing, gangster rapping and crying babies

There have been some weird, wonderful and extremely strange car ad campaigns in recent times. Car manufacturers have big advertising budgets to spend on promoting their latest models and there's no shortage of trendy ad agencies willing to pitch them mad, bad and bonkers ways to do it. 

• Best car adverts of all time

It's hardly surprising then that car adverts come in an incredible variety of forms. Recent memorable car ad concepts have included Mercedes enlisting a team of chickens to demonstrate its Magic Body Control technology, while Audi stepped in the boxing ring to advertise the RS 6 Avant

Advertising is a great opportunity for car manufacturers to make their mark on the general public – some get it right, some get it wrong. Here’s our list of the best car adverts of the last few years.

Don't forget to tell us about your favourites in the comments section below... 

Toyota - tough pick-up seeks unbreakable drivers

Toyota Australia played up the the rough 'n' ready image of its HiLux pick-up with the Unbreakable Drivers ad that shows prospective HiLux owners going through a rigorous selection process. The archetypal ute-driving Ozzie males are shown undertaking a series of extreme challenges from pulling a rubber sheep from a high voltage fence to eating a red hot motorway service station pie without flinching. Only the toughest customers are deemed worthy of receiving the HiLux keys in the closing scene.  

Subaru - Russian dog steals car

In a parody of the increasingly crazy dash cam footage that seems to be constantly coming out of Russia these days, Subaru dreamed up this questionable commercial for its XV SUV. In it, a driver appears to run over a dog in her Subaru XV but when she gets out of the car to check on the animal, it jumps up, climbs behind the wheel and drives of in her Subaru. "Everyone wants a Subaru XV" says the caption at the end. If you're expecting to see this commercial on British telly anytime soon, don't hold your breath.

Jaguar - British Villains

The 'Villains' commercial by Jaguar made its debut in the US during the 2014 Superbowl but soon appeared on British telly. The brand played up to its British heritage by employing domestic star actors Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston to play ruthless, tea-drinking villains to promote its Jaguar F-Type Coupe.

Mercedes - 'Magic Body Control'

Mercedes Magic Body Control

This was always going to be number one. It's a simple, innovative idea. What makes it great? Two things - chickens and Diana Ross. Firstly, it's pivoted around the fact that chickens can barely move their eyes, so their head must remain stationary to hold focus on whatever they're looking at. This is all demonstrated with Diana Ross' 'Upside Down' running seamlessly in the background. Oh, it's also a decent plug-in for Mercedes' MAGIC BODY CONTROL, part of Intelligent Drive, which comprises a string of technologies designed to enhance safety and comfort.

Audi - RS 6 Avant boxing ad

Great adverts draw unthinkable parallels. It's why we liked the Mercedes advert so much and why this Audi ad gets second place. It's centred around two heavy-weight boxers battling it out. Half way in the referee interjects to warn one of the boxers - presumably because of foul play. The ad ends with the simple line: "Power from a less obvious place." It's designed to show that the RS 6 Avant is an unsung hero, much like the referee.

Skoda Octavia vRS - 'Not your everyday family car'

There's a few reasons we like this one. Versatility. It features a hot rod-style lawn mower, a giant barbecue, an even bigger trike, a larger-than-life glass of cola and an ice cream van elevated by a monstrous set of wheels. The comparison, it seems, is that the Skoda Octavia vRS comprises a host of engineering innovations, a dramatic new design and great performance.

Lexus IS - 'Poise'

Another ad demonstrating the importance of body control. Those that enjoyed the 2010 hit film, Black Swan, should appreciate this. It involves a ballerina, Tamara Rojo, dancing to the track 'Step Up' by Stephen Kozmeniuk. The display of Tamara's sleek, succinct performance - from pirouette to pirouette - is a great way of advertising the excellent body control of the Lexus IS. Plenty of grip, very little body roll and stability at all times.

Honda - 'Hands' 

Simple adverts are sometimes the best. This one starts with two hands, a nut, and the line: "Let's see what curiosity can do." Over the course of the advert, the hands manipulate the nut, transforming it into an engine, various different motorbikes, a Honda Civic, BTCC Civic touring car, NSX and lastly a Honda Jazz. Great way of demonstrating some of Honda's most successful innovations from the past 65 years.

Fiat 500L 'The Motherhood'

This is just mad. Fiat has gone to new lengths to advertise the practicalities of the Fiat 500L in creating an original gangster rap entitled 'The Motherhood'. Referencing infant defecation among other things, the ad explores - in some depth - the toils of motherhood. It's a smart way of appealing to a niche audience, but it was a little bit long and bordering on repetitive; there's an intro, two verses, two choruses and an awfully strange bridge to haul through. Realistically, no mother would withstand the length of this advert without postponing it to attend their infant.

Audi - new R8 V10 plus

We had to have at least one advert in here appealing to our auditory perception and the Audi R8 V10 plus advert does just about that. It's designed to demonstrate the power of the new mid-engined sportscar. The R8's V10 engine produces a raucous and undiluted engine note. Even cooler - thanks to the absence of certain body panels you can actually see the engine being put through its paces - it's music to the ears of any petrol head hearing the R8 rifling through different gears.

Mercedes-Benz - 'Sound with power'

This made the top 10 solely because of the amazing soundtrack. It features a unique remix, including samples from Tinie Tempah's 'Pass Out' to 'Tidal Wave' by Sub Focus. It's an alternative way of demonstrating the roaring capabilities of the new Mercedes E63 AMG engine. Instead of literally recording the engine being put through its paces, as Audi did, Mercedes has enlisted popular music in a way that's sure to appeal to its market.

Volkswagen - 'Baby Television Advert'

This ad follows the story of a father driving his baby around at night trying to get him to sleep. At first, it seems like a cunning ploy; the baby is sound asleep. But Volkswagen Start/Stop technology soon intervenes and every time the Tiguan's engine cuts out, the baby wakes up and starts crying. The conclusion is that, despite crying babies, you'll at least save money on fuel.

Dacia - first UK advert

This is the advert that Dacia chose to coincide with its launch in the UK. It's a plain approach, starting with three Dacias in a white showroom. The simplistic advertising technique seems to be an attempt to emulate Dacia's budget approach towards car manufacturing. It's great that Dacia is being so clear-cut in what it stands for, but we'd still like it if they spiced things up a little, at least in the advertising sector of the business.

• Best car adverts of all time