As Volkswagen readies the next-generation Golf, to be launched in September, the scale of the changes at Volkswagen’s design department becomes clear.
Put simply, when former Volkswagen Group R&D chief Martin Winterkorn returned to the company in January 2007 as chairman of the management board, having been in academia in the interim, he looked at Volkswagen’s upcoming designs and binned the lot.
De’Silva’s design deputy, Klaus Bischoff, explained ‘We had done the Golf but we had to start again. We had done the IROC concept car too, but to make it into the Scirocco we had to change not just the nose but also the rear and the sides.’
Any other casualties? What about the Polo? That’s been around for a long time now and seems to have fallen off the UK buyer’s radar. ‘Yes, the Polo was revised too from the proposed redesign. We started again, which takes a long time. The new one will be lower and wider. It’s another reinterpretation of our new design language and it could be even more radical than the new Golf will be. It’s a completely different direction, and it will be masculine and sporty.’
Bischoff also confirmed that the Beetle, 10 years old this autumn, will be replaced by another reinterpretation of the original rear-engined Beetle, proving that Volkswagen still thinks there’s life in the retro-reinvention idea. There will also be a minor facelift for the flagship Phaeton, followed by a major one; Bischoff designed the original’s interior and remembers Volkswagen Group overlord Ferdinand PiΫch insisting on interior quality better than a Bentley’s but at much lower cost.