MOSCOW -- AvtoVAZ Design Director Steve Mattin aims to lead a styling revolution at Lada in the same way that Kia's design chef Peter Schreyer transformed the Korean brand's image.
Mattin said Kia's rapid sales growth through a strong emphasis on design is something he wants to replicate at Lada, Russia's top-selling brand.
Lada's vehicles have been criticized for having a bland, outdated design. The Niva SUV, formerly the Niva 4x4, has remained virtually the same during its 37-year existence.
"That is now changing and will be clearly seen in the future," Mattin told Automotive News Europe in an interview. "There will be an intensive modernization with the introduction of a completely new design language and DNA that will change the image of the brand."
Mattin, 48, an Englishman, started his design career with Mercedes-Benz and was Volvo's design head from 2005 to 2009. He was appointed design director at AvtoVAZ, maker of Lada vehicles, in 2011.
Mattin said at Volvo his challenge was to give the Swedish brand a more desirable look. "Here at AvtoVAZ, I have to do the same thing," he said.
The Lada X-Ray concept unveiled at the Moscow auto show last year hints at Lada's new design. The concept previews the automaker's plans for new crossover and SUV models that will roll out in 2016.
The new Lada design will have to look robust to appeal to Russians because of the bumpy roads, Mattin said. It should also retain a certain simplicity, he said. "It's not about the introduction of overcomplicated lines in all different directions that some of brands perhaps have."
Another idea that the new design will seek to embody is that of contrast. Mattin said the inspiration came from his observation of the sharp differences in the Russian life and weather.