Cars often come loaded with national stereotypes. Italian cars are known for being achingly beautiful, and frustratingly unreliable. The reverse is true of German cars: they are designed and built with fanatical attention to detail, but lack charisma. What if you could have the best of both worlds: a German car with Italian styling?
The latest concept car from Italian styling house Italdesign Giugiaro shows what such a car might be like. Called the Brivido, it was unveiled at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. Volkswagen recently bought a majority share of Italdesign, so the Brivido rides on a VW platform.
The Brivido is a four-seat GT car with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Unlike rival Pininfarina, Italdesign did not follow the trend of coupe-like sedans; their car only has two doors. The gull wings make quite a statement, and the roof is almost entirely glass. Italdesign says this design improves visibility while making the cabin more pleasant.
The rest of the car is just as dramatic, with short overhangs, a sleek roofline, and slivers of LEDs for headlights. Instead of side view mirrors, Brivido sports tiny cameras that fold into the fenders. The body is made of aluminum and carbon fiber to make it as light as possible.
The interior design is as clever as the exterior is striking. The driver gets touchpads on the steering wheel to operate the sound system, climate control, and more, while the passenger gets their own instrument panel with trip information and controls for the entertainment systems. The car also has an iPad dock built into the dashboard.
Underneath the styling and technology is a VW-sourced chassis with a 360 hp 3.0-liter V6, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor. Italdesign says the combination is good for a 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) run of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 171 mph.
The Brivido makes a pretty good case for a future collaboration between Volkswagen and Italdesign. The German company (along with corporate sibling Audi) helped improve the quality of brands such like Lamborghini and Bentley, so the concept has already been applied to real-world vehicles.
Among the German companies, VW could use an infusion of style the most. With the redesigned Jetta and Passat, the company went for sheer mass appeal at the cost of style or uniqueness. The Passat may be the perfect car for most people, but it’s basically a German Camry. It competes against great-looking cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and 2013 Ford Fusion. With its bland styling, how can the Passat stand out in this competitive segment?
The Brivido is just a concept car, but it shows what the marriage of German engineering and Italian styling can produce. It could also foreshadow a world-beater from Volkswagen.