By on October 19, 2012

“When you are a young designer of course, you think everything is wrong and should be different… You want to conquer the world and with great ideas. But over the time you have to really understand what Golf is, what VW is, And to mature to a certain degree, I needed that time. It took 15 years before I really knew what I was talking about.”

The quote above comes from an interview with Klaus Bischoff, Executive Director of Volkswagen Design, regarding the seventh-generation Golf. I found it hit home – when I arrived at TTAC, I thought that I was all-knowledgable, that verbosity, snark and humor thrown into a blender was the recipe for a world-class car review, that brown wagons were the solution to all the problems of the auto industry. What I didn’t know could fill volumes.

My birthday is tomorrow, and in the eyes of most of you, I will still be a mere neophyte. My one year anniversary at TTAC is closing in quicker and quicker, and it seems like forever ago that I wrote the now-infamous “game changer” post about the new Ford Fusion. I still think I’ll be vindicated.

I’ve been humbled by Bertel’s patient mentorship, Jack’s command of the English language, the real-world experience of Sajeev and Steve, Murilee’s ability to take his encyclopedic knowledge of the automobile and put out an article about it every single day, Alex and Michael’s painstakingly prepared reviews and Ronnie’s ability to pull diamonds from the rough on a weekly basis. And to you the readers, for catching mistakes, adding information and insights to my articles and making the site what it is. Without you all, I wouldn’t have any command of topics like manufacturing, finance, the economics of vehicle development, CAFE, marketing or sales analysis. That’s not to say I am all the way there yet, but your help has cut the time down from 15 years to significantly shorter.

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20 Comments on “QOTD: Klaus Bischoff On Maturity...”


  • avatar
    el scotto

    Learn from the Masters oh Padawan. Happy Birthday. The dad in me asks you not to drink and drive.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Bischoff? Wo ist Bischoff?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    It’s remarkable how sophisticated the new Golf looks in comparison to the cartoonish 2014 Mazda 3 revamp.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      you mean the 2014 leaked pictures that were on Jalopnik yesterday, or the most recent facelift? the 2014 Mazda 3 looks sharp.

    • 0 avatar
      Stevo

      thornmark – agreed.
      At first glance the swoopy Mazda looks saucy and attractive, but reflecting on how the car may be to live with, the side windows diminish and the rear window is tiny. Since my daughters, who will barely break 5 feet when driving age, will be driving my next car, I appreciate the maturity of the Golf so they can drive a car with good visibility all around and that doesn’t trap the rear passenger in a cave. Maybe the leaked photo is completely false. Comment still stands that visibility out seeems to to me to be a sign that the automaker is comfortable in the model’s positioning and not trying too hard for temp flash over longer term utility.

    • 0 avatar
      Mazda323

      It’s funny you should say that, because the car this new Golf immediately reminded me of is a 1st generation Mazdaspeed3 in Cosmic Blue Mica. Maybe it’s just the color.

      http://gtcarlot.com/data/Mazda/MAZDA3/2007/12029191/Exterior-58759445.html

      In any case, I kind of agree with you about the leaked 2014 Mazda3 pics. Somewhat cartoonish and definitely appears a lot less practical, although certain aspects (like the front end) appeal to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Nostrathomas

      I too think the new Golf is strikingly handsome and I love it’s understated lines. If only we could get VW styling on top of Japanese mechanics and build quality (as long as Mazda isn’t in charge of rustproofing).

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I think what he really meant is that it isn’t his fault that the new Golf is as predictable and derivative as the cars that he and his fellow design students once mocked.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      But it’s derivative only of its own heritage. Mechanically it is a significant upgrade, but from a styling point of view, Golf customers expect something that is recognizable as a Golf.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m sure it is a perfectly pragmatic design, and the Golf is the franchise in Europe. Designing a car that looks like it uses recycled body stampings from a decade ago just isn’t likely to earn the admiration of young, idealistic designers.

  • avatar

    When I was young and foolish, I had an A2 GTi. I’m old and foolish now and just bought a TDi.

    Diesel and Manual, but not wagon, sorry. The wagon isn’t German anymore :(

    There have been a lot of other cars/trucks in the middle, but the A6 is upscale compared to the A2, and relative to other cars of each one’s era. The A2 was a decent small car, not great, but the A6 is like a Swiss watch.

    You can see that the German Golf competes against Peugeot, Euro Honda, Ford of Europe, Opel/Vauxhall, and Renault. Not de-contented, but up-contented.

    You can also see that the Passat/Jetta here competes against Civic and Camry. Built to a price. No mouse fur in the door pockets, extra hooks in the trunk or multicolor door locks.

    Worse, it confirms Small-must-equal-cheap in the US of A.

    VW sales of the solid axle and plastic cars is up, so clearly I’m wrong in this rant.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I like the Swiss watch analogy. They don’t tell time well and each one breaks more times in its life than Seiko’s entire production.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        I have a Swiss watch, about 20 years old. Has broken only once, when it leaked while I was scuba diving.

        However, automatics (whether Swiss or anything else) need regular maintenance, and keep time less accurately than quartz mechanisms. Silly me, I bought the automatic (self-winding) version because that’s what I always wanted a a kid, and to me it was a “real watch”.

        In the end, the reliability, accuracy and maintenance have everything to do with the type of mechanism and little to do with country of manufacture.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Well you were right on the brown wagon thing , with a stick and a TDI engine of course

  • avatar

    Happy Birthday! Here’s to many more years of lifelong learning!

  • avatar

    Happy Birthday, Derek!

  • avatar
    Slab

    Meh. Maturity is overrated.

    I’ve worked in product design and marketing for over 25 years (in a completely unrelated industry). While I love what I do, I sometimes miss the unbridled enthusiasm I once had. My naivete let me propose crazy, outrageous ideas that occasionally had real merit.

    Recently, a new coworker asked why we do something a certain way, and I almost said “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.” Instead, I asked “Do you have a better idea?”

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Happy BDay.

    As for the Fusion, Car and Driver picks the Accord:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2013-honda-accord-ex-page-5

    Contemporary Granada buyers may disagree.


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