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Skoda Superb steps up in style

Heart of Europe: Skoda’s design team tried to include links to the car-maker’s Czech homeland with the final look of the new Superb.

A clean-sheet approach and fresh ideas have shaped the Mk3 Skoda Superb

Skoda logo8 May 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

SKODA has revealed that new manufacturing technologies have helped shape the next-generation Superb into a sharper vehicle than its designers would have thought even just a few years ago.

Prioritising proportion, simplicity and clean angular surfacing, with a strong emphasis on the horizontal, Skoda senior designer Dalibor Pantucek told GoAuto at the B8-series launch in Italy earlier this month that the company looked at fresh methods in order to achieve the desired styling effect.

“New tricks in the metal pressing methods allowed us to get a more precise line and sharper edges,” he revealed. “The result is like Czech crystal… and it links our car to our heritage, which in turn links the car to our country as the heart of Europe.” The new processes are most evident in the Superb’s “razor-sharp, high tornado line” that Skoda describes as “visually stretching the car to achieve effective contrasts between light and shade.” With the Project SK481 design that became the 2016 Superb well under way by 2012, the stylists were tasked with creating an elegant 2.5-box sedan that would not date – in stark contrast to the second-generation outgoing model that has been criticised for being very ‘back heavy’ in its proportions.

The latter, by the way, was a corollary of the innovative but complex, expensive and weighty ‘Twin Door’ two-way sedan/liftback tailgate that has now been replaced by a more conventional item.

Finding a way of ‘bending’ the metal to create defined lines was important to Skoda because it meant the newcomer could be differentiated from the curvier and fussier shapes currently in vogue in sedans from rival manufacturers.

“We wanted sharpness,” Mr Pantucek said. “Everybody else is almost going to no-shape designs, and so we wanted to be different. We wanted to go simple. For it to be proportionally nice with no (sharp) lines is very challenging… this is the key for creating a balanced and timeless car. And this is the challenge for us – clean but with character.” Other notable design features on the new Superb include a clamshell bonnet (“an optical illusion that elongates it”), a larger dash-to-axle gap (the space between the tailing edge of the door and front wheel arch that “gives it a more powerful and big-engined look”), and the C-pillar window up-kink that is internally known as “The Fin”.

New more-steeply raked front/rear windscreens, combined with the longer and wider MQB-B modular transverse matrix platform architecture – shared with the upcoming Volkswagen B8 Passat – not only gave the Superb designers the freedom to add proportion and elegance, it helped make for a more aerodynamically efficient vehicle.

The Cd figure of 0.275 – getting as low as 0.264 in the super-slippery low-emissions 1.6 TDI Greenline eco version not slated for Australia – is a remarkable achievement for a car of this size.

At 4861mm long (+28mm), 1864mm wide (+47mm), and 1468mm high (+6mm) the latest Superb has grown in every dimension, yet benefits from an 80mm wheelbase stretch and a 61mm rear overhang cut.

It’s also 75kg lighter than before – an advancement the designers wanted the more lithe silhouette to impart. To that end, the plastic lower door sill ‘spears’ also lighten the side view, connecting the profile with the angular themes prevalent in the rear as well as the front of the car.

On up-spec models with the daytime running lights, the vertical LEDs fanning out from below the main beam is meant to evoke a human eye with lashes, adding character to the Superb. Mr Pantucek said this, along with the wider front and waterfall grille with vertical lines rising into the bonnet to suggest power and speed, is his favourite new Superb angle.

While the original modern Superb of 2001 was basically a stretched Mk5 Passat sedan, there was no consideration given about returning to a boot rather than hatchback design for this generation.

Moving on to the interior, the goal was to make the cabin “very democratic”, highlighted by advances in ergonomics, intuitive switchgear, and the tri-level horizontalness of the dashboard/console architecture. The doors have also been designed to be as wide as possible for easy entry and egress.

One of the funnier revelations of the Superb launch concerned the ‘C’-shaped rear LED headlights, which – according to the PR department – are meant to say: “Congratulate me, I’ve bought a Skoda!”

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