Our DNA:Garage:Alejandro Mesonero’s Design Process TN/FR

Alejandro Mesonero Romanos

Back to the garage.

Let's start with the CUPRA logo. What's it all about?

We're disrupting those classical codes in the automotive world. We care more about the spirit and the philosophy behind the CUPRA division, than about the standalone product.

We wanted to create a feeling of belonging to a family. So, we came up with the analogy of triangles. Imagine two triangles intersecting. The shape of a triangle is very dynamic. It has a stable base and it's pointing in a clear direction.

And then you've turned it upside down.

To give it more speed and make it more dynamic. Additionally, our products will be complemented by parts, accessories and collections. We are also looking at a range of different partnerships with other brands and individuals for the complete CUPRA experience. For us, it's not just the product itself: we are looking at it in a much deeper way.

What is the idea behind CUPRA?

As a concept, pure performance is a bit old-fashioned. It's not all about the last split-second of speed. When you look beyond that, you will find a new element in our cars. We're looking for something that is more refined, not brutal or in-your-face, but more elegant and chic. We aim to be more relaxed and stylish.

Speed is definitely one component of CUPRA. How would you describe speed?

Speed is the idea of moving very fast, of sharpening your senses, your sight, the adrenalin that keeps you awake. The sensation of speed itself is magic. If you put a three-year-old child in a trolley and push it, you create a sense of speed and you will immediately see a smile on their face. It's inside all of us. Speed is cool. Moving quickly is cool.

In the CUPRA world, you can jump from one experience to another like it's nothing.

The important thing for us is the journey. It's not just about speed on its own or simply getting there by squeezing out the last millisecond of a lap on the Nuremburg ring - which we've already done! The fun is about how you get there.

How different is driving in a CUPRA compared to anything else just going fast?

It's about so much more than just driving at high speed. It's the sound, the materials inside the car, even the smell. In a performance car, everything appeals to the senses. First, there is the visual appeal, so we are focusing on the look of the car. But just as important is agility. Some elements are made of carbon fibre, but it's more than just sticking some carbon fibre parts on the car. It's the overall lightness of the materials that is key.

It's all part of the aim to make it perform perfectly, to use beautiful materials and fabrics but to make it simple. It has an element of going back to the garage to it.

Will CUPRA be driver-focused?

Very much so. We will be creating a driver-oriented environment, but not in a puritanical racing kind of way. We use materials that are nice to the touch - we like the human touch. That's how we came up with using a copper colour, a very warm, real colour. We want to convey this feeling of warmth that the brand has. It's not cold like cold aluminium but warmer, it is closer to the people, more human.

What does the future hold for CUPRA design?

Nothing is set in stone. We are not saying this particular line is typical to CUPRA. CUPRA cars are sporty, they have character but they are not going to bite you. But there's a rather thin line between making something that is characterful to something that is aggressive. There will definitely be a certain level of elegance added to the sportiness of CUPRA cars.

“We are convinced that the electric car can be a racing car”

You've just presented the brand new CUPRA e-Racer.

Yes, and it's fully electric! This car has been developed from scratch as a fully electric car - and a very competitive one. The target we had was to be just as fast as an internal combustion engine. Concerning the design, there is a nice story: Do you remember the first Cup Racer? We put it together very quickly and it became a big success. However, we didn't have time to develop the aerodynamics, for instance, because it was sort of a secret project. We went without any aerodynamic testing.

For the Evolution version, we focused on one goal: Let's make the car 8 km/h faster, without touching the engine, just using aerodynamics. And the car has to look even better. And we did it. And when we started talking about the e-Racer, it was another big challenge because our target wasn't easy at all. Aerodynamics and weight have become very important. The engineers addressed the weight issue and tried to get the best power-to-weight ratio as possible. But the aerodynamics were left to us, the designers. We also wanted it to be an even better-looking car than the second evolution of the Cup Racer.

So, here we are. We made it. We are convinced that the electric car can be a racing car, or a racing car can be electric and beautiful, while triggering all those emotions we were talking about.

“We're disrupting those classical codes within the automotive world.”

Are there specific challenges in developing a new car brand from scratch?

You have to have a very clear idea about the philosophy. You have to understand the philosophy of what you're about to achieve. I've asked myself: what do I imagine the car to be like in four years' time? And then from there I go back and start applying my work.

What passions do you have other than designing?

Driving. (laughs)

What drives you? Do you have a specific kind of attitude towards your life?

I think it's passion. I started to draw cars when I was 11 years old, in my textbooks at school. In the end, I managed to study what I really wanted, which was design.

What about the other people developing and building CUPRAs, what is special about them?

Our workforce was hand-selected. The employees have to feel the brand. And also, they have to be people that take a certain level of risk. You might have to push like hell to get your ideas through. They are people who say: I get this, but what about if we did it like that? The people that will be working in production have to be very skilled. A certain number of parts will be made and mounted by hand. We have a great attention to detail, but also this passion to make things with your hands. You can't do this in a factory, you need a small operation like we have here in Martorell.