Škoda Enyaq vRS drifting on a frozen Swedish lake is one of several stunts that aim to give the thriving Czech brand a unique image in the VW Group
A few weeks ago, Škoda made the news for a quite unusual reason. Motoring journalist Richard Meaden set the “Longest Continuous Vehicle Drift on Ice” global record after reaching the distance of 4.57 miles. Since he used the Enyaq iV vRS, he also set the very same record for electric cars in the same category.
Normally, such marketing stunts end up forgotten on the next day. After all, they do not cause any direct impact on the company’s sales. But this particular one is a notable exception. It is Škoda’s latest move to establish a new, stronger image that sets itself apart from the other divisions in the Volkswagen group.
The ice drift record
The Czech automaker chose the frozen lake of Stortjärnen, located in the Swedish city of Krokom. It had a frozen depth of 40 cm on January 19th, when the record was set. Meaden continuously drifted the Enyaq iV vRS on a circular track for almost 16 minutes, which accounts for 39 laps at a top speed of 30.2 mph.
Škoda had the feat officially validated by Guinness World Records and witnessed by drifting judge David Kalas. It spent five days testing different combinations of tires while keeping everything else in the stock car untouched. The Swedish region featured sub-zero temperatures and five hours of sunlight per day.
This is the second time that Meaden made Škoda and the vRS badge appear on the Guinness Book. In 2011, he set the Land Speed record on a 2.0L, forced-induction production car. He drove an Octavia vRS to 227 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats desert in the USA. Now, why such actions are important for Škoda?
Why would Škoda need a new image?
The Czech automaker has gone a long way over the past years. The Volkswagen ownership brought a full line of new, competitive cars, such as the Fabia, in the late 1990s. It even brought a strong advertisement campaign focused on reverting the negative reputation Škoda had acquired until then for low reliability.
After that initial phase, Škoda entered into austerity. Most of its models focused on practicality and value, keeping emotional appeal limited to few trim versions here and there. Basically, its cars became rational counterparts to those of Volkswagen, especially considering that they shared platform and powertrain.
Nowadays, Škoda has finally established itself as a strong contender in Europe. In fact, it has even thrived in India as well, using low-cost variations of VW cars. However, the truth is that no one likes the low-cost image. It is just not a strong sales argument. Because of that, the Czech carmaker is now redefining itself.
The new, thriving Škoda
CEO Klaus Zellmer said that Škoda’s cars are going to express “down-to-earthness and honesty” without necessarily being cheap. The first part implies that it will become a counterpart to Volkswagen, which has ventured into futurism with its ID family and the obsession with electrification and latest technologies.
The second part certainly intends to end all comparisons with Dacia, which has fully embraced a low-cost image. Škoda is going to focus on what people want today, rather than creating all-new standards for them to follow. An important part of that guideline is eschewing massive use of technology in the cabin.
The goal is to actually connect with people; offer features they can easily apply to their lives. While Škoda cars share several technical parts with VW models, they usually offer more room and a more comfortable ride. Besides, they feature a discreet and solid design which is made to look good even after a decade.
How can concept cars help?
As we have written, concept cars may send messages of different types. The Czech automaker has built a nice tradition at that: the Škoda Academy prepares young professionals to work at several manufacturing sectors. Every now and then, students build a concept car based on a regular model to exercise their skills.
Škoda invests in sporty concepts as well. The Fabia R5 and the Afriq, for example, resemble homologation specials; they extend the base car’s potential by adding racing equipment without getting deep changes. That was the same rationale the company used when preparing the Enyaq for that ice drift, by the way.
Last, but not least, the Vision 7S released a few weeks ago offers a concrete peek at the new image Škoda wants to build. Besides a more fluid design language on the outside, it presents a practical cabin. There is enough room for a big family, and a minimalistic dashboard designed be informative and easy to use.
With all those initiatives, Škoda intends to attract new customers rather than snatching existing ones from other VW brands. The automaker is already enjoying a strong moment sales-wise and wants to make the most of its momentum. Do you believe that its new image will help consolidate it in the global market?
- E-Autos inklusive Kleinwagen kommen schneller als geplant – Handelsblatt
- Škoda Enyaq iV vRS slides into GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ titles with incredible 7.351 km ice drift – Škoda Media
- Thriving Skoda Brand Forging Its Own Path Within The VW Group – Carscoops
Danillo Almeida has explored his passion for cars in two distinct ways. The first one is his graduation course in Mechanical Engineering, which will hopefully lead to a job position in the field. The other one is expressing his knowledge and opinions on the matter through writing. Almeida has already contributed to blogs, stores, and websites in general writing automotive content in many formats.