Skoda’s future electric model shows promise, but the brand’s first EV already has its work cut out against the Tesla Model 3

The Skoda Vision E concept typifies the zeitgeist of today's automotive industry: it's an electric coupé-SUV.

First revealed at the Shanghai motor show, it previews Skoda’s first electric model, which is due in 2019 with 300bhp being sent from electric motors to all four wheels.

The Vision E’s styling is bold, although Skoda designer Karl Neuman can’t say how much of the look will be carried over to the production model. Insiders say that the full look probably will make it, although experience tell us that features such as the two full-width light bars at the front and cameras instead of wingmirrors probably won't.

The former has a chance, though; “light is the new chrome,” says Neuman, and Skoda does have a track record with concepts closely matching their production counterparts; see the Vision S and the Kodiaq.

Skoda’s product management boss, Guido Haak, has his eye on Tesla. Namely, the Model 3, which, as promised by the charismatic face and head of the American company, Elon Musk, has delivered on target its headline-grabbing $35,000 entry-level price tag.

Haak is not impressed. He describes the Model 3’s price and 310-mile range as 'vanilla', and insists that Skoda’s EV will have a broad range of talents, including being fun to drive, long of range and low in price. As it's a concept, the Vision E isn't road-ready, which is par for the course, as is its Model 3-matching 310km range, 301bhp and 112mph top speed, driven through two electric motors. But over the 200-metre, 15kph-max drive, it proved itself to be a convincing, if ambitious, plan.

Amusing though the figures are, they’re for a car which was only really meant to be gawped at on a motor show stand. It's a solid foundation upon which Skoda can pin its future.

The seating position is spot on; the pedals and seat, which all sprout out of a wood-veneer-finished, immaculately spotless and smooth floor, give that typically commanding SUV height, while the steering communicates the imperfections in the road surface adequately. Although admittedly on this drive, those imperfections were mere lines in an otherwise smooth, flat warehouse floor.

The Vision E’s 19in wheels and wide tyres scuff the wheel arch linings under full lock, but this noise and sensation is communicated through the steering wheel positively. Otherwise, it’s smooth and silent.

Inside, it’s like a glimpse into Skoda’s soul. An extremely uncluttered dashboard holds three large, wide screens, and is finished in a textured trim contrasting with the fabric on the doorcards, other parts of the dash and seats, and that wood floor.

The only decorative touches are crystal-design glass trim with geometric line patterns etched in – these are of particular beauty on the infotainment system’s scrolling wheel controller, the rear-view mirror surround and the dashboard divider, and are a much-celebrated nod to the brand’s Czech heritage.

Predictably, Skoda’s promises for the eventual model all point to an alluring mix; price, driver engagement, range, assistance and design are all where they ought to be, but the execution of the Vision E production model is yet to be seen.

The typically-concept-like interior will be toned down, and a fifth seat will be added. Aside from this, Neuman says, “who knows?”. The panoramic windscreen, which stretches to behind the top of the driver’s head, is almost certain to not make production, and the crystal motifs will be toned down. But that’s a good thing; the swathes of hard, unforgiving materials like the wood on the floor and that vast windscreen, pretty though they are, make the car a bit echoey inside, which kills the EV’s reassuring silence and refinement. Something more conventional will almost certainly replace them, and it’ll be better for it.

It marks a step upmarket for Skoda too; there’s a Volvo-like crispness to the interior, while Volkswagen Group design hallmarks are all present on the outside.

That’s not a bad thing at all, either; it marks a half-step up in market segment for Skoda, with its crisp, luxurious and yet unpretentious-feeling interior, ambitious mix of qualities and price, and a whole step up in the evolution of the Volkswagen Group's EV onslaught

Read more: 

Volkswagen I.D Concept 2017 review

First drive: Peugeot Instinct concept review

Volkswagen ID Buzz concept review

Jaguar I-Pace: first drive of electric SUV concept

Our Verdict

Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda jumps into the SUV market with both feet — and seven seats, but can the Kodiaq win the people's hearts in an already congested SUV market?

Join the debate

Comments
6

31 August 2017

If Haak thinks th eModel3's 310 mile range is vanilla, are we to expect a much better range from this Skoda? That sounds intriguing, but perhaps presumptuous. I like the look of this, inside and out. And 'light is the new chrome'.... I can actually see something in that. Interesting.

31 August 2017
Doesn't look to have the square feet to hold a big enough battery for anything special range wise. If you visualise width times between axles length times sandwich thickness.

31 August 2017

.... the best Skodas are always the cars where they are allowed to be different to their VW cousins and stamp their own Skoda identity: Yeti, Octavia, Superb etc.

Steam cars are due a revival.

31 August 2017

I really thought it was the Model Y concept. It drips Telsa heritage

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

31 August 2017
Haak is not impressed. He describes the Model 3’s price and 310-mile range as 'vanilla'

That 'vanilla' car is available right now, not some ropey concept confined to a warehouse and has an order book that his bosses would kill for. Perhaps he should also take into account that if it wasn't for Teslas vanilla model this Skoda concept would probably not even exist.

31 August 2017

The interior is fantastic, I just hope the production model is close in appearance (but with some softer materials for better sound deadening). Dashboard easily beats the Model 3 where Tesla saw fit to just stick a large tablet there and call it a day. 

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK