Currently reading: Volkswagen plots friendlier design direction with cars that "smile"
VW design chief Jozef Kaban says "aggressive fronts don't work" as ID Buzz kicks off new era

All Volkswagens in the future will “have a smile” in their front-end styling, as part of plans to make the brand’s cars more emotional, less serious and more friendly-looking. 

Speaking to Autocar, VW design chief Jozef Kaban said the ID Buzz marked the start of a new era of VWs that would be more fun and expressive in their styling, with each car given a smile. 

“This is fully emotional and an icon even before it hits the road,” said Kaban of the new ID Buzz. “Nobody is not excited by this product.

“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, but one thing is clear: you will see more and more steps [towards more expressive VW design], and not just on EVs. All cars will get more emotions, and also more quality.”

A key priority of new VW CEO Thomas Schafer is for people to fall in love with the firm’s cars once more, and he sees design as a huge part of that.

“VW needs to be more friendly, not aggressive,” he told Autocar. “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.”


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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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rmcondo 19 August 2022

The last VWs to have had those characteristics were the "new" Beetles, complete with flowerpots. We know what happened to them. The Golf is successful because it is measurably appealing to head more than heart. Its seriousness, as with the Polo and Passat, are its strength. Audi and Skoda too are valued for their efficiency and practicality respectively and inclusively The problem child is SEAT/Cupra, which seeks to appeal to the immeasurable and to emotion, thereby defining its weakness.

I believe that it would be unwise to reduce VW to that.

Children, rather than adults are attracted to smiley faces. We shall see what happens to the jolly fat Buzz

gavsmit 19 August 2022

Why does a car have to have any emotional facial expression? 

Look at a 70's Jaguar XJ that exudes class (in my opinion) but is neither aggressive or smiley. Even the grill is appropriately sized and suits the car.

Get rid of stupid corporate looks, 'frowning' headlights and 'snorting' huge grills and remember what attractive car styling was once like.

Putting a gormless smiley face on the front of a vehicle would certainly put me off and isn't going to make some drivers drive more considerately either.

FastRenaultFan 19 August 2022
When we're VWs car designs ever aggressive? At least they would be trying if they were but they have just been boring boring and more boring same old same old. If anything VW need to be more aggressive with there designs.
They certainly need to try and give there cars some style. It's possible. Just look at the huge transformation at Toyota over that last 5 or so years. They used to be the most boring cars on the planet but not anymore. They let VW take that now.
So it will be interesting to see if VW can truly change or will they just stay boring.