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Catching Up With: Klaus Bischoff

Head of Volkswagen’s design team

Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen’s design team, was hired as an interior designer in 1989. He has worked on numerous models since then, always for the Volkswagen brand, for which he became design leader in January 2007. “I have had many offers to go elsewhere,” he says, “but I love VW and like it here.” That’s unusual—and admirable—in the job-hopping world of corporate car design.

Automobile Magazine: We tend to see the Jetta as pretty generic, without much identity beyond the badges on the nose and tail. You?

Klaus Bischoff: No, it has a strong Volkswagen identity with outstanding perceived quality, like all our cars. And with a new platform, new proportions, it is longer, lower, wider. All of our newest cars make an effort to join the grille and headlamps to make a single shape, to provide a face in the crowd, as with the Arteon.

AM: Is there a reason for so many lines on the hood?

KB: We never do a line without a reason, and our lines are stronger and more distinct than those of our competitors, with a tighter peak radius. We stamp each panel five times, but others tend to use only four stamps maximum.

AM: We know of some companies that hit each panel only twice, three times maximum.

KB: Really? No, no, never for us. We want truly precise surfaces on all our cars. They must look good and last over time. Look at the lines on the hood. Some are parallel, but there is a strong diagonal that begins at the inner point of the headlamp assembly and continues up the A-pillar and over the length of the roof.

AM: The interior is quite handsome, with four sets of transverse lines and forward angles. Is that the stitching theme for all models?

KB: Not at all. There are different patterns, stitching, and trim according to the level, including some large screens and some instrument clusters that put driving directions directly in front of the driver.

AM: There seems to have been a great deal of attention paid to aerodynamics. …

KB: We did a great deal of work on the front end for aerodynamics but also for pedestrian safety. There are many conditions that influence the final shape. The drag coefficient is just 0.27, good for a sedan.

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2019 Volkswagen Jetta

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

MSRP $18,545 1.4T S (Manual) Sedan