Volkswagen on the straight and narrow

The German auto manufacturer simplifies its style

It’s rare to hear a car manufacturer describe the styling of its vehicles as anything other than “bold,” but that’s effectively the message coming out of Volkswagen these days. Walter de’Silva, the head of design for VW Group, recently told the Automotive News that the era of “over-design” is over as far as he’s concerned. De’Silva said VW’s upcoming vehicles will dispense with the character lines and flared fenders that have become de rigueur among carmakers over the past decade. It’s a look that began with cars like the Toyota Matrix and reached its pinnacle with the three-door (one on the driver’s side, two on the passenger’s) Hyundai Veloster and its gaping hexagonal grill, swept headlights and pinched rear-end. One 2013 Veloster reviewer compared the overall effect to a “slip-on sports shoe.” The risk with more radical designs is that they tend to look dated much sooner. “There is a certain security in our design,” explained de’Silva, referring to perennially popular and relatively conservative-looking cars like the VW Golf. “When you know that it keeps the resale value, it’s important for a family. That’s our intention.”