Car Design News looks at some of the design stories that may have gone under the radar over the past week. Read on for the latest from Audi, BMW, Dacia and more…

Model refreshes, familiar trim levels and new progress on the passenger safety front. Here are some of the stories you might have missed over the past week or so. 

Manifesto part deux

The Dacia Sandrider is more than a concept and will hit the sand dunes of the Dakar rally in 2025. As with the Manifesto from which it is based, functionality was central to the design and the team’s entry into the race itself is part of an exploration into Dacia’s ”essentialism” mindset. For example, there are no decorative panels and everything you see is the bare necessity; the paint used on the dashboard is antireflective, and a magnetic plate can be used to prevent bolts and tools from being lost in the sand. 

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Audi Q7 refresh

The Q7 and SQ7 have been given a refresh with a sharper overall look created by narrow DRLs, a new octagonal grille design and intricate multi-spoke wheels. Audi desribes the look as “unmistakable” and more modern than before. 

Full release here

Meet your Match 

Volkswagen is bringing back the match trim to its portfolio. Extras vary between ICE and EV models but generally includes bigger wheels, metallic paint, tinted windows and equipment like rear view cameras, electric tailgates and keyless entry.

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The ID.7 Pro in Match trim

A Cassina coffee table – now in your car 

Hurrah. The new Lancia Ypsilon has retained many of the design cues shown in the Pu+Ra HPE concept, namely the circular ‘coffee table’ in the interior. The partnership with Italian furniture brand Cassina has also continued beyond the concept, with Cassina branding included in the first limited-edition model at launch. The Stratos-inspired taillights have also carried through, another win for the storied Italian brand’s designers. 

Strap yourselves in 

Suppliers play an integral role in the design of a vehicle, and one oft overlooked element is safety. We have become so used to seat belts that the technology is almost taken for granted. German mega-supplier ZF has revealed its latest technology, which will adjust in reation to the size and body weight of vehicle occupants during a crash. in short, the Multi-Stage Load Limiter (MSLL) automatically adjusts the force of the seatbelt in relation to the occupant’s proportions. Many cars already use two-stage controllable load limiter (SLL) technology, but the new MSLL is a progression on this. 

Full release here


Safety for all – a new step in seatbelt design 

Jeep Wagoneer S EV

We saw teaser shots earlier in January, but now we have a proper look at the brand’s new fully-electric SUV. Jeep says it features “mindful” materials – which seems suitably vague for now – and sports one of the more intricate exterior lighting designs at the front. 

Full release here

Subtlest of refreshes for the 4 Series 

As seems to be the case with many models today, the nuances of mid-cycle refreshes are becoming increasingly difficult to pick out. The updated 4 Series has been given a new look in both standard and M4 guise, but at first glance you’d be hard-pushed to tell where the focus was. However, a side-by-side comparison does indeed show a different look, with a new DRL design for the headlights (dual ‘scratches’ as opposed to the ‘eyeliner’ from before, shown in the second image below) while at the rear, Laserlight tail lights draw on technology first seen in the M4 CSL special edition. In short, laser diodes create an intricate, three-dimensional light graphic.

Full release here

Mercedes doubles down on classics

And finally, some classic car news. Mercedes-Benz is celebrating its Heritage offshoot by expanding the division. Business intricacies aside, it should help to preserve and bring back some of the most iconic models in automotive design, such as the 300 SL Gullwing below. 

Full release here


A ’50s 300 SL at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Fellbach