Autocar confidential: Renault’s rebirth, VW’s happy camper and more

In this week’s round up of automotive gossip, Luca de Meo explains how he embraces adversity, Cupra talks driver assistance systems and more.

Renault’s revival

When Luca de Meo took the top job at Renault in 2020, the company was dealing with the fallout from ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest and had well-publicised money problems and a fractious relationship with Alliance partner Nissan – all of which, he said, was part of the role’s appeal. “If you look back at my career, I’ve always tried to go where there was something to do and where I feel I can make a difference,” he said. The Italian’s mission now is to make Renault “the greenest brand in Europe” by 2030.

VW’s happy campers

German car designers are often a pretty serious bunch, so it was refreshing to hear Albert Kirzinger, designer of the new Volkswagen Multivan, explain how he tried to make the seven-seater cheerful. “It wouldn’t be a Multivan without a really charismatic and sophisticated but still sympathetic face,” he said. “I call it smiley; it’s a smiling face. So sympathetic and so sophisticated, but it has oomph.” There’s one happy camper.

Cupra won’t kill drivers’ cars

Think that advanced driver assistance systems will kill fun-to-drive cars? Not if Cupra can help it. R&D boss Werner Tietz wants to preserve driving fun for as long as possible. “We will introduce all functionality on the autonomous side that’s necessary or helpful for customers, like motorway pilot and overtake assist, but our cars will be mainly for drivers,” he said. “We don’t want to sleep in the car or let it do everything from home to the office and back. Our cars are for people who love cars and want to drive.”