We were in Rottach-Egern in Germany, driving the new Volkswagen CC. As the car is mostly about design, we sat down with Oliver Stefan, exterior design group leader for VW's Passat-based four-door coupe. Here is what he had to say.
What inspired you to design the CC, what was your vision?
We have a good Passat limousine and variant (sedan and wagon), but what was missing was a Passat that was more emotional. We tried to build an emotional, elegant-looking, dynamic car. It's good for the brand, as well as the Passat family.
Was it difficult to balance the design with the interior space?
Exterior and interior are always fighting a bit. For the proportions of the car, you always want it lower and a bit narrow, which decreases the space on the interior. This is a normal struggle. In the end, I think exterior won a bit more in terms of the expression of the car.
I believe you balanced exterior boldness to interior size quite well, possibly better than the Jaguar XF or Mercedes CLS. Can you talk more about this?
This is what we wanted to achieve. Because it's a Volkswagen, we needed to do this. On one hand, the exterior design is very expressive with the low roof but, on the other hand, a Volkswagen must have some kind of functionality. Next to design, this is what makes a good Volkswagen.
What projects did you work on at VW before the CC?
Before, I was working on the Beetle Cabrio, the Beetle show car (the Dune) and the Polo. Also, some other things we'll see in the near future.
What car, not necessarily new, is one of your favorites?
In terms of design, it's the Jaguar D-Type and the XK-SS. They are gorgeous with the long bonnet and the sculpture. I prefer the D-Type from LeMans. In my office, I have a picture of several D-Types from Goodwood.
What modern car do you look at and say, boy, I wish I had designed that car?
That's a tough question! (OK, take it back a level, what car do you really like.) I always look at a Porsche 911. This is a really cool car and I admire this car for its proportions and stance. I like the 993 and the newest 997.
OK, now I'll tell you the cars that I like or are interested in and you tell me your thoughts:
That's a nice car, very nice. I like this. I like the front. I love the fenders. The headlights are a bit small.
I saw the car last year at Frankfurt. I was a bit surprised that it was missing the typical Jaguar genes. It could be also, sorry to say, a Lexus.
The proportions are nice but I think it was a missed opportunity.
It's nice. It's brilliant. If there's one German carmaker (with their history) that can do this, it's Audi.
Very classical, maybe too classical for me.
What Japanese manufacturers do you like as far as design?
Lexus. They have good proportions, good surface treatment, very progressive. In show cars and production cars, its a very smart company.
They have a very clean design.
What do you think of Aston Martin?
Another great company. I like their cars very much.
What do you drive?
What was your first car?
A Mk. 1 VW Golf (Rabbit). It had GTI trim but without the GTI engine (laughs). It had the seats, shifter, steering wheel but not the wheels or engine.