Skoda has relaunched itself somewhat at Geneva this year, with a redesigned logo and corporate typeface as well a concept car called ‘Vision D’. Its aim is to “at least double” its sales by 2018.
The Czech subsidiary of the VW Group has quietly become a huge hit over the last few years. It has increased market share (now way outstripping the group’s perennial underachievers, Seat) thanks to great products such as the Yeti and Superb Estate that encapsulate Skoda’s understated, rational and friendly image.
Strange then that rather than consolidating this proven formula, the Vision D appears to undo much of the established perception.
As an overall concept a five-door fastback sits oddly next to the famously practical Fabia, Roomster, Yeti and Superb with their higher-than-average H-points and best-in-class interior space. And isn’t the fastback format (sure to be dubbed a ‘five-door coupe’ by the marketing department) a little frivolous for Skoda?
Its form language also contradicts Skoda’s core appeal. You could cut your finger on the intersections of its surfaces and feature lines and set your spirit level by the brutal, static rocker treatment. The new corporate face, while still recognisable, has increased its facial aggression by around 20 per cent thanks to the tightening of radii, a trend that is spreading like wildfire throughout the entire VW Group.
Its interior is much more pleasing, with a simplicity and implied solidity to its architecture. The air outlet, minimal brightwork treatment and floating HVAC controls feel ‘on-brand’. But crystal trim inserts? Surely more befitting a gin palace Bugatti than a practical honest-to-goodness car for families and grandparents, even if crystal has an authentic Czech-ness.
The Skoda Vision D isn’t a bad car – it’s very competently executed and that fastback silhouette has a cool late-’70s Italian vibe. But as a statement of how the brand is looking to build on its core strengths it completely misses a wide open net.