Czech firm says more 'emotional' styling – to be seen on new Scala – is key to showcasing values ahead of EV launches
Skoda will push forward with a new, bolder design language starting with the forthcoming Skoda Scala – with design chief Oliver Stefani saying it was important to reinforce the brand’s values ahead of the introduction of electric cars into its range.
Stefani joined the Czech firm from Volkswagen in 2017, tasked with developing a more ‘emotional’ design language, which will be rolled out on future models. Skoda is set to launch its first EV next year, which will be followed in 2020 by the marque’s first EV based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric platform.
“Skoda values have always been functionality, usability and practicality,” said Stefani. “We’d like to add more emotion.”
Skoda is in the midst of a major range expansion, with the new Scala launching later this month to replace the Rapid. The firm’s first electric car, the e-Citigo, will follow in 2019 – ahead of the launch of several electric models based on the MEB platform.
New Skoda Scala prototype driven
Asked if it was important to have the design language in place before the arrival of Skoda’s EV range, Stefani said: “Of course. You have to think about how the shape of cars will change. All of our cars have to have Skoda’s design DNA, which is really important to show what the brand stands for.
“My first job at Skoda was to think about strategy and how to change the design, but without losing what Skoda has built up in previous years. There’s no reason to do something completely different [in terms of design].”
Stefani has looked at developing Skoda design by looking at past models, as well as by developing a future design direction, which the firm has done using a sculpture showcasing sharp lines. Stefani described the development of Skoda’s design language as a “long-term plan”, with an overall focus on “smart understatement”. To achieve that, Skoda has set three key design ‘co-ordinates’: elegance, comfort and dynamic.
Stefani defined elegance as being “not luxury or premium, just elegant”, and added that comfort involved building on Skoda’s reputation for decent interior space and ‘Simply Clever’ design features. He added that the firm will develop the use of ‘crystalline’ elements inspired by Czech glass, as seen on past models, but with the addition of “surprising elements” including added lines, which he likened to “twisting crystals”.
Elements of the latest Skoda design have been seen on recent concept cars such as the Vision RS – which previews the look of the Scala – and the Vision X, on which the firm’s forthcoming small SUV will be based. Key elements include a bolder front grille, and further emphasis on strong lines down the side of cars.
The Scala will be the first Skoda to have the brand’s name on the boot lid, instead of its logo – a feature that will be carried forward for future models. It will also feature a new-look interior, which has previously been previewed in sketches and in the interior of the Vision RS. It includes a wide dashboard built around a large freestanding central touchscreen, which features a ‘shelf’ in front of it for people to lay their hands while operating it.
A similar interior design concept will also be used on Skoda’s electric MEB vehicles, as previewed by the Vision E concept shown at last year’s Shanghai motor show.
While the key design elements and traits will be adopted across the range over time, Stefani said Skoda will make sure each of its models features a distinctive design to enhance their individual attributes, while ensuring they still feel part of a coherent range.