“Light is the new chrome” in Skoda’s promising electric preview
Skoda’s first electric car – a four-motor 300bhp design – isn’t due to arrive until 2019, but we’ve managed to snaffle a go in the company’s Vision E concept that’s reckoned to be a pretty accurate pointer as to what it might look like.
Designer Karl Neuman won’t tell us how close the Vision E will be to the finished article but, given the SUV’s popularity in today’s market, the overall coupé-like SUV look is no surprise. And Skoda does has a reputation for not departing too greatly from its concepts.
Normally, Vision E features like the two front light bars and cameras instead of wing mirrors don’t survive the journey to production, but Neumann has said that “light is the new chrome”, so maybe they will.
Skoda product management boss Guido Haak has made some pretty dismissive comments about the upcoming 310km-range Tesla Model 3, due to go on sale in the US at prices beginning at $35,000. Haak says that Skoda’s EV will be fun to drive and affordable as well as having an equally long range.
In final form its power output is claimed to be 301bhp and the top speed 112mph. We were allowed to drive the concept at a top speed of 15km/h inside a warehouse, so it wasn’t what you might call an exhaustive test of what is really a motor show exhibit. Nevertheless, it’s easy to visualise the Vision E as a foundation for Skoda’s EV future.
Open the door and the first impression is of the ultra-smooth wood-veneered floor sprouting pedals and seats. The textured dashboard is similarly clean in design with three big screens and beautifully patterned etched glass on the infotainment system’s scrolling wheel controller, rear-view mirror surround and dash divider.
The seating position is perfect. Bar a little noise from the concept’s 19in wheels scuffing the wheel arch linings under full lock, the drive is smooth and silent.
Skoda says the final model will combine value with engagement, range, driver assist systems and design, as you’d expect them to say. The cabin will be ‘conventionalised’ and a fifth seat added. The panoramic windscreen and crystal motifs probably won’t appear on the car, but Neumann’s enigmatic smile rules out nothing at this stage. That could mean a step towards Volvo-like design cool allied to Volkswagen Group design and quality – which all sounds rather promising.