If the strength of the Škoda brand has until now lain above all in its stellar quality-price ratio, the arrival of the next generation of models will announce a turning point: without betraying its functional vocation, the brand’s appeal will be determined by decidedly more emotional factors. This was promised by design director Oliver Stefani and his team that we met up with at the Mladá Boleslav style centre for a visit reserved for Auto&Design.
They welcomed us for an exclusive preview of the Vision RS concept car a few weeks before its debut in Paris, as well as to tell us about the future design direction of the oldest brand in the Volkswagen group – Škoda was founded in 1895 and is the second oldest car manufacturer in the world.
The “Design Villa”, the building that houses the style centre, is also steeped in history. It is located in an area of Mladá Boleslav, Česana, once occupied by a textile factory and was the home of the owner. Dimensions are compact but still a total of 150 people of 26 different nationalities work there. Meticulously restored, the villa shows part of the original structures which fit in well with the modern architecture of the interior fittings, including Stefani’s large, bright studio where white dominates.
Tradition is one of the starting points “for a brand that is moving quickly into the future and is making great progress”, explains the head of design. “I always invite everyone to visit our museum for it contains an exceptional historical heritage. We designers go into it a lot. You’ll find some elegant cars there, for example. Škoda is “smart understatement”, not a premium brand, but elegance will feature more in our upcoming cars”.
From Stefani’s studio we move to the presentation room where the Vision RS, still covered by the tarp, awaits us. Before this is taken off, we continue to dwell on the brand’s reference values and their future interpretation. In addition to the above-mentioned combination of Function & Emotion and Elegance, we have Comfort, hence the Simply Clever theme, that underlies the brand’s Dna, and Dynamism. Last but not least, Crystalline Design, a direct link with the tradition of Bohemian crystal.