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Interview

Cupra boss: “we need to make sure we shock and provoke"

TG talks design and future motives with the man who’s overseeing Cupra's future

Published: 02 May 2024

The car world's a fiercely competitive one, particularly with the wave of new EVs arriving from China and the strength of European brands. So, what's Cupra boss Wayne Griffiths' plan moving forward? TG sat down for a quick-fire session to see what's what.

What's Cupra’s defining trait? 

“The red thread that goes through everything we do is design. At the end of the day, we are a design brand and that’s our biggest asset. It’s very difficult to manage moving forward because how do we keep doing new things without getting copied?

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“Our design language is different and it stands out, and that’s because it provokes. We don’t want to be aggressive and rebellious for rebellious sake. We want to stand out for standing for something different. Our design is sharp, but sensuous and muscular.”

Can we expect the general design language to remain true to that in future vehicles?

“If you see our design manifesto, there are elements in there that will always remain. We’re not going to change that manifesto every time we design a new car, because the brand becomes recognizable. 

“What we’re not going to do is a small, medium and large Formentor. We can’t do that and we have to move the thing on. We did that by showing you the Dark Rebel, which is our maximum capability at the moment for what an electric car could look like in the future.”

Interesting you should mention the Dark Rebel - do you imagine your future cars will adopt some of its traits if indeed you don’t end up making it for real?

“You’ll see a lot of elements in the Dark Rebel coming into our cars. Each one will make a big step but will keep the sharp nose, muscular lines along the side and a forward-looking stance. The triangles in the lights, for instance, will go through to all the cars.

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“Some things need to stay. You need to have your brand identity. But with every new car, we need to make sure we shock and provoke. If it doesn’t provoke, I won’t do the car, because if everyone on the table likes the design I know it’s wrong.”

How difficult has it been for Cupra to settle into the UK market?

“I remember the very early days of showing the first Cupra designs when we shocked a lot of people. Some of the comments I had to put up with originally to get these cars through the system required… And time has proven us right. The UK has always been a tough nut to crack because they’re very discerning customers who won’t let you get away with marketing bluff.

“I think they’re seeing in the UK now though that we’re authentic. We’re not just talking about doing something, we go and do it. So the brand proposition we’re delivering on, and we’re doing it coherently across all areas.”

What are your thoughts on the wave of new brands being formed specifically for the electric era?

“The Chinese are very fast, and so are other manufacturers entering the market. So you have to just stay ahead of the game, but you need to do it authentically, or else you’re all over the place and people ask what your brand stands for.

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“We’ve got an incredible momentum right now, so we’ve got to keep that up. When we start to think we’re becoming successful is when we’re going to start losing the plot.”

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