Volkswagen has announced that it will give its crossovers aimed at the US mafrket a more aggressive design message specifically aimed at American buyers.
Volkswagen’s new design strategy is because of a new and more market-focused approach forcing the German manufacturer to venture slightly beyond the conservative styling that has worked so well in Europe and China, but failed to turn heads in the U.S.
The new midsize crossover that VW is preparing to build at its Chattanooga factory, is the largest vehicle VW has ever designed. It is similar in size and proportion to the Audi Q7.
Klaus Bischoff, chief designer for the VW brand, says the still-unnamed crossover borrows many design elements from the Cross Coupe GTE concept shown at the 2015 Detroit auto show, including the notch-tooth grille, creased hood and a sharp-angled character line that runs from the fenders through the beltline.
Detail work such as intricate headlights that integrate structural elements that begin from the grille, and metal side vents below the A-pillars, are almost Audi-like in their execution.
“This has to be bold; make a statement,” Bischoff said during a media visit to Valhalla, as Volkswagen’s design studio is known.
In addition to the new midsize crossover, VW showed final production versions of the redesigned Tiguan compact crossover that will go on sale in the U.S. in 2017 and the freshened Passat due out later this year.
Bischoff says VW needed to step up its design game to stand out in the U.S.
VW has recently adopted a more market-specific approach to design, with more consumer clinics and feedback from dealers in overseas markets during the design process.
“The competition is brutal, and we are not allowed to bring cars into production that do not win clinic testing,” Bischoff said. “This car has to be the best.”
VW is aiming two more crossovers at the U.S. in coming years: a long-wheelbase version of its redesigned Tiguan, arriving in 2017, and the new small crossover to slot below it.
Volkswagen’s new MD Martin Winterkorn earlier said the automaker will follow up the midsize crossover with a smaller SUV that will be “Golf-based.”
The smaller offering would share the overall proportions and size of the T-Roc concept shown at last year’s Geneva show and would compete with new subcompact crossovers such as the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.