Future Volkswagens will all wear a smile

Steve Fowler

12 Apr 2024

Volkswagen is busy reinventing itself as a ‘love brand’ and part of that will be for every new car to wear a smile on its face. 

The brand’s latest design language will feature headlights with a slim, full-width light bar across the front, with DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) flicking upwards at each corner to represent a smile. 

Speaking exclusively to Electrifying at the Car Design Event in Munich where the ID.2all concept was on show, Volkswagen’s head of exterior design Stefan Wallburg said, “When you approach a car it should have a smile on its face. We’ve designed the ID.2 with upturned elements to the lights. 

“Somehow, all Volkswagens will be smiling – in some cars a bit more, in others a bit less, but they’ll all be smiling. We’re trying to fit in a way that’s right for the car and the customers, so on a smaller car it may be a bit more, and for an SUV which also has a prestige element maybe there is another interpretation of that – but it will still be a smile. 

“It’s a combination of lines and volume that create this kind of sympathetic feeling and the smile. We give the lines in front – and it doesn’t matter if it’s the top or the bottom – that kind of kick-up at the sides that makers it automatically positive; it’s a positive energy.“On this car [the ID. 2all concept] we’ve tried to give it a human touch by creating eyes in the lights which we can use for a lot of cars.”

Cars should have smiles on their faces, says VW

Wallburg revealed that the inspiration for the Volkswagen smile came from the Beetle, but the first time it has been used in recent times is on the ID. Buzz, inspired by the classic camper van. “The Buzz made the first step, but we had it in former times quite a lot – like the Beetle is smiling; the old Beetle, the new Beetle, everything is smiling!” 

When it comes to hot Volkswagens Wallburg also confirmed that GTIs would smile, too. “Yeah, they’re still smiling,” he said, “But it might be a more concentrated smile – you have to work to translate the performance somehow so that it looks really positive.” 

While Wallburg told us that the production ID. 2 will look nearly identical to the ID. 2all concept when it arrives in 2025 – with a promise that the 25,000 Euro (£21,385) price-tag is still the target – he also promised that many of the ‘secret sauce’ elements of the concept would also make it into production.

“Every car will have a bit of secret sauce,” he said. “This is something to play with humour – it doesn’t have to be something that’s technology-driven, just something that makes you smile.” Wallburg referred to the flip-up rear seats in the ID. 2all concept, which will make production, as will the fun graphics on the 13-inch infotainment screen. It features a sleeping wolf – a reference to the brand’s Wolfsburg HQ – that wakes up and stretches as the car is turned on. And you can also choose retro displays that mimic the original 70s Golf’s dials, those of the original Beetle or an old-school tape deck playing music.

VW is taking a new focus to interior quality with the ID.2

The interior of the ID. 2all concept shows an improvement in quality – in direct reaction to customer feedback on previous models. The dash top is covered in cloth with air vents hidden away and a mix of wood-effect and metallic effect strips, plus subtle LED lighting, all adding up to a premium feel. 

And where some brands are relying on a central screen for all information, the ID. 2 will get an 11-inch screen in front of the driver, while further listening is in evidence with the return of physical buttons for climate functions beneath the central screen and metallic-effect scrolling buttons replacing touch-sensitive controllers on the steering wheel.

ID.2 will have 'secret sauce' elements such as flip-up rear seats

Volkswagen’s interior designer Darius Watola also showed us a few more ‘secret sauce’ elements: speakers in the front head rests, magnets on the back of the front seats so rear passengers can mount their phones easily to watch videos or play games, and a false floor in the boot that lifts to reveal a space deep enough to hold a couple of drinks crates. 

Stefan Wallburg also revealed that future Volkswagens would have illuminated VW badges front and rear, following a change in legislation that’s set to allow this feature in Europe that’s been common in the US for a while. “At the moment with the light bar, we have a gap where the badge is,” Wallburg told us. “But this will allow us to fill that gap making it clear at night that the car is a VW.”

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