It’s one thing designing a 1160bhp V12-powered hypercar that will only ever be sold in strictly limited numbers, and quite another to be responsible for the styling of what is now Europe’s best-selling car – especially when the former will cost around 280 times that of the latter. Never would thetwo be mentioned in the same sentence, let alone fettled by the same hands, surely?
Step forward, Miles Nürnberger, the well- travelled Brit who has just departed his leading role in Aston Martin’s design team – a position in which he oversaw the styling of the Valkyrie among other headline-hitting machines – to join... Dacia. As career moves go, it’s up there with Jeremy Clarkson becoming a farmer or George W Bush taking up painting – not what you’d expect, perhaps. But look past the ‘Aston design boss in shock move to Dacia’ headline, and you’ll see there’s mainstream-sector form dotted throughout Nürnberger’s storied past.
“I worked on the Citroën C3 Picasso, some of the early work for the DS brand before it launched, the concept of the C-Cactus,” he tells Autocar, four days after getting his feet under the table at his new office. “I’ve done lots of things before. I’ve spent time at Land Rover, Ford, Lincoln in the US – so I’ve worked with a spectrum of brands.”
It’s still not exactly a logical progression, but even if it is a little hard to wrap your head around, the switch was nothing if not perfectly timed. Ex-AMG boss Tobias Moers is the twin-turbocharged V8-powered new broom sweeping the halls at Aston, and although there has been no suggestion he’s having a clear-out at an executive level, the recent departures of chassis-tuning legend Matt Becker, special vehicle boss David King and Nürnberger himself suggest the British brand is being radically overhauled top to bottom.
As, coincidentally, is Dacia. In fact, the Renault-owned value brand’s plans for a wide-reaching reinvention was a big part of the appeal for Nürnberger. “I had several opportunities but this was the one that really interested me because they are on that journey, and it wasn’t going to be going somewhere to repeat. It was something that was evolving and moving and had momentum in its trajectory.” So when Gilles Vidal – vice-president of design for the Renault Group, serving under Nürnberger’s ex-neighbour and long-time collaborator, Laurens van den Acker – rang to ask if Nürnberger would be interested in leading the Romanian brand’s visual reinvention, it was a no-brainer.