VW's design guru has had enough of aggressive styling.
In recent years, vehicle design has progressed to the point where even basic sedans and hatchbacks sport aggressive styling and angry, scowling faces. This movement seems to be popular with consumers who, for the most part, can't get enough of dramatic lines and intense styling details. But it seems Volkswagen has had enough of this and wants to buck the trend by introducing friendly-looking vehicles.
Speaking to Autocar, the company's chief designer, Jozef Kaban, said he envisions a new design direction for VW. "We will be trying to do all cars with more emotion. It depends on the product, as not every car can have such a positive, friendly character … all cars [not just EVs] will get more emotions, and also more quality."
This new direction has already been previewed by the retro-inspired ID.Buzz, an electric minivan with a cheerful and non-threatening demeanor. "This is fully emotional and an icon even before it hits the road," said Kaban. "Nobody is not excited by this product." Instantly recognizable as a VW, the battery-powered van is less aggressive than its siblings, including the ID.4 SUV.
Hopefully, this move won't result in wacky-looking vehicles, but we applaud VW for going against the grain and taking a different approach from the rest of the industry. "VW needs to be more friendly, not aggressive," said Kaban to the UK publication. "Aggressive fronts don't work. Not all cars will be as friendly as Buzz but friendly will be one of our attributes for the future."
It could never be described as friendly, but the recently previewed ID.Aero concept car has a notably restrained design. The classically elegant lines are utterly devoid of styling gimmicks, which have become commonplace in recent years. Interestingly, Volkswagen is also looking to appeal to consumers through a wide assortment of exciting colors, all designed to thrill and excite.
The automaker doesn't just want to offer a palette of crowd-pleasing greys and silvers. At the time, a company representative noted Volkswagen is looking to stir things up. "When someone sees this color, they're either going to absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. That's what we're going for." Unfortunately, the shade in question was not specified. But, at least we have plenty of vibrant, exciting, and happy-looking VWs to look forward to.
Whether you like aggressively-styled cars or not, the trend has gained plenty of momentum in the past two decades or so. Take the W211 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG as an example. When it debuted in 2003, traditionalists expressed concern that the Three-pointed star had taken it too far in terms of styling. Aprons, large wheels, and quad exhausts belonged on bona fide sports cars, they argued.
Fast forward to 2022, and the legendary super sedan looks positively pedestrian when parked next to a modern-day C-Class, for example. This trend is clear to see across all brands, with BMW and Lexus in particular receiving plenty of criticism for their overstyled grilles and front fascias. Then again, styling is a personal and subjective concept and, while many may hate future VWs for the same reason others hate contemporary BMWs, we're all for more variety.