That's the vision of Walter de'Silva, the driving force behind VW's design revolution

As the Volkswagen Group’s design chief, Walter de’Silva is responsible for all models designed in the global studios of seven brands that are as diverse as Skoda and Bugatti.

Most recently, de’Silva has masterminded the complete overhaul of VW’s 10-strong model range in just three years. Speaking to Autocar at the recent European launch of the sixth-generation Jetta saloon, de’Silva outlined the next steps for VW as it continues to develop its design direction.

His major challenges include ground-up replacements for the Golf and its family of models, and refining its new design theme for the new models.

What is the starting point for the design of the seventh-generation Golf?VW design should be unique and not complicated. This is the true design of VW, but it was not like this when I took over three years ago. VW design has to be distinctive because VWs are world cars that everybody understands and recognises as VWs.

When I took over, I stopped the excessive decoration and over-design of models. I did this initially with the Golf and Polo. Now all the other models have followed. Everything should be clean, precise and have meaning. Before I arrived, this was not VW style.

How will that approach translate into the design of the next Golf?The design language will stay the same; the new cars will evolve. We will develop the horizontal face and some of the smaller details such as the lights, door handles and side mirrors — all microcosms of VW’s designs. We’ve done a similar thing with Audi — and now it’s VW’s turn.

There won’t be any stylistic additions to the next range of VW’s designs. Cars will have to stay in proportion and be elegant. On the Golf, expect great proportions, thanks to a new platform.

Does VW need a halo car, free of its current design theme?VW used to be famous for staple cars like the Golf, Polo and Sharan — this was it. Now we have everything from the Up to the Amarok [pick-up]. We need a wide range of products to cover the segments and are always very open minded when it comes to new designs.

We need sports cars, MPVs, city cars, everything. Anything we do will need to be instantly recognisable as a VW but personalised for the market and segment. And always remember it is for a global market.

What can we expect from the design of the Up city car?The Up will be recognisable as a VW — no question. But VW doesn’t have a design mask that is a camouflage you scale up or down to fit the segment. The architecture of the Up means that it’s more different to design than anything else in our range. It has a long wheelbase and short overhangs and a real wheel-in-each-corner design in the spirit of the original Mini.

We don’t want to compromise on interior space with design, though. People aren’t going to be made smaller to fit in, so it has to be a clear VW design, but also a more practical one.

Will VW extend its range of sporty R models?Yes, we want to do more R models. VW is an advocate of sporty cars and we want to race them, as with the Scirocco. But you have to remember that we have a lot of brands in our group and can’t do everything we want.

And what about a bigger sports car above the BlueSport?We will do a sports car for the right customer and the right market. The BlueSport is still a work in progress, but we won’t do a mission of the Porsche brand.

Mark Tisshaw

See all the latest VW reviews, news and video

Join the debate

Comments
14

19 November 2010

Mr de'Silva seems to be on another planet!! i have never seen a VW that had excessive decoration or overdesign.He has made most of the range very bland recently with ill proportioned facelifts.more blandness ahead it seems.

19 November 2010

I think this must have got lost in translation, didn't he mean "The same, not complicated"

Walter de Silva ran out of ideas when he designed the Alfa 156.......

19 November 2010

'Master-minded a complete overhaul of the VW range in just 3 years'? Pick one set of lights front and rear, one new grille - apply to all models and presto....

19 November 2010

[quote Richard H]Walter de Silva ran out of ideas when he designed the Alfa 156[/quote]

Given that he hasn't actually designed a car for Volkswagen yet, that's probably a little harsh. His current efforts have been basically facelifting someone else's designs, which is never a good indication - for example, Giugiaro's facelift of de'Silva's own Alfa 156 was definitely not an improvement but previewed the design language of the 159. Now de'Silva is doing the same to VW's range.

Golf 7 is the measuring stick for de'Silva. If it's rubbish, slate him then.

19 November 2010

VW Golf 7 we know what we expect with this car design wise, dull variations of the previous 6 a fat C pillar and just a little bit bigger. Wonder how de'Silva will change this?

19 November 2010

Under Walter's watch, Audi design went from being Bauhaus-inspired pure central European design to cluttered and aggressive. So it really is very difficult to see what he is talking about when he says VWs must become purer.

19 November 2010

[quote disco.stu]Giugiaro's facelift of de'Silva's own Alfa 156 was definitely not an improvement [/quote]

Sorry but we will have to agree to differ here.

19 November 2010

[quote disco.stu]Given that he hasn't actually designed a car for Volkswagen yet, that's probably a little harsh.[/quote]

True, but he did say the Audi A5 is the most beautiful car he as ever designed, and... well, it isn't, is it.

I'm not expecting anything similar to the greatness of the 156, but the next batch of VWs really need to take it up a notch. " Unique, not complicated " is a very long way from where they are now, at " boring, for one and for all ".

 

Please insert paragraps where needed.

19 November 2010

[quote Autocar]Most recently, de’Silva has masterminded the complete overhaul of VW’s 10-strong model range in just three years.[/quote]

Just keep hands away of your true love, Alfa Romeo!

19 November 2010

[quote tuga]

True, but he did say the Audi A5 is the most beautiful car he as ever designed, and... well, it isn't, is it.

[/quote]

By German standards it is very beautiful.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run