Renault’s head of design says the French brand is pushing towards more sensual, Latin designs while the rest of the industry appears to be moving towards Germanic, hard edged styles.
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Speaking to the media at today’s Geneva Motor Show, Laurens Van den Acker, Renault’s senior vice president of design who left Mazda for Renault in 2010, said his aim is to create a softer French-inspired design language to differentiate the brand from its competitors as well as sister and budget brand Dacia.

“[We want to] let the cars be sensual, emotional and French in all the good sense of the word. [Create] space for Dacia to be more Germanic, sensible and rational” Van den Acker said.

Since joining Renault less than three years ago from Mazda, Van den Acker’s challenge has been to turn around the French brand’s styling language, which he admitted had lost it way, and bring back the brand’s passion and create a more cohesive company look.

“In Paris we showed the [new] Clio for the first time, the goal was to make people fall in love again with the Renault brand, we had a sensation that people had fallen out of love with the Renault brand.”

He said that although the new design language has worked really well on the company’s small cars, it would need to get more serious once it gets applied to Renault’s larger vehicles.

Van Den Acker likens the Clio to a university student, young, full of ideas and up and coming while the Megane is a “student that just started working in its first job for three years, looking up, wanting to be its boss” and the top of the range Laguna is “the managing director, [so it] needs to have status and seriousness and appeal”.

The aim of Renault’s current design has been to create a new brand identity, one that doesn’t require a logo to be recognized. Van Den Acker says the brand is in the process of creating a good iconic face.

“A good identity is an identity that you can recognize without a logo – a sign of a good face.”

Apart from the new Renault Clio, the recently unveiled Captur urban crossover has also been designed under Van Den Acker’s guidance.

“[Captur is] sensual, with no hard lines. I think we are one of the few brands that use such a soft form language.”

He said of all the other European brands out there that could stray from the Germanic design queues, Alfa Romeo would be the only one, given the brand’s Italian heritage.

Renault is set to show off two additional concept cars before the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, while work continues on the Alpine sport car range as well the possibility of a premium brand.