Murat Günak’s influence on Group design becomes more and more evident every time a new Volkswagen model appears. This charismatic designer, who came to Wolfsburg two years ago and today heads up the design function of the entire VW Group, is the last person in the world to expect recognition for his contribution to the creation of the manufacturer’s most recent offspring, the Passat. Design work on this car began under Hartmut Warkuss, but he retired more than a year ago and, with Bernd Pischetsrieder taking over from Ferdinand Piëch as CEO of Volkswagen AG in 2003, it was clear that Wolfsburg design philosophies were going to change.

Günak likes to stress that the luxury aspect of the new Passat is in line with the model’s high segment positioning: “Luxury is no longer the expression of wealth but it has a lot to do with the quality and finish of the details. The same goes for the use of chrome-plated trim on the grille and on other components, such as the window frames, which helps to lighten the overall line.”

The design of the new model stands out particularly in that same grille, in the graphics of the side windows and in the door shut-lines. The tail is highly recognisable because of the rear lighting clusters which resemble those used on the range-topping Phaeton saloon.

Inside it is the innovative dashboard that makes its mark, dominated as it is by a horizontal, decorative bar that separates the components above from those below without needing to use contrasting colours to do the job. The instrument panel has sharper edges than usual, which suggests greater precision, while the horizontal division between upper and lower elements of the compartment enables various wood or brushed aluminium trim to be applied.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 152

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