New Skoda Vision RS concept previews future vRS models

The 242bhp plug-in Skoda Vision RS concept gives us a glimpse of a future hot Rapid successor, and we've driven it...

Skoda revealed the Vision RS concept at the Paris Motor Show – a concept showcasing Skoda’s future on two fronts. 

It’s intended as a close glimpse of the new Skoda Scala, which will replace the ageing, budget oriented Rapid Spaceback in the brand’s line-up. The new model, which could be revealed before the end of the year, will go on sale in 2019 positioned as a bona fide rival for the new Ford Focus and will essentially take on the position of being Skoda’s alternative to the Volkswagen Golf.

• New Skoda Vision RS driven

However, the sporty trappings aren’t just for show. The Vision RS also previews the future of Skoda’s RS performance models (badged vRS here in the UK), confirming that a hot version of the brand’s Rapid replacement is on the cards and strongly suggesting that the firm will look to plug-in hybrid technology for future vRS models.

The Vision RS sits on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform – a more cost effective, modified version of MBQ usually used on supermini sized cars, but stretched to the maximum for Skoda’s upcoming C-segment offering. The car sizes up at 4,356mm in length, sitting 1,431mm tall and 1,810mm wide, and with a 430-litre boot found in the rear the new Skoda concept is on the money for a production hatchback of this size.

Design wise, clear influence from the current Rapid Spaceback is found in the form of the large black glass tailgate. The rest of the concept is straight from Skoda’s latest design playbook, featuring triangular headlights, an illuminated front grille, sharp looking horizontal taillights and spaced Skoda lettering replacing the badge on the tailgate.

RS specific tweaks to the format include the 20-inch wheels, the aggressive looking front and rear bumpers, and the use of plenty of carbon-fibre – the front grille, side air outlet linings, front splitter, rear diffuser and rear wing are all made of the material. The wing mirrors are noticeably small too, inspired by those fitted on World Rally Championship cars.

Take a look inside and the cabin reveals inspiration from the Vision X concept – also previewing a future Skoda model. The dashboard and switchgear layout is familiar and a floating style touchscreen display is equipped. Like the exterior design, it’s a preview of next-generation Skoda interiors, but dressed up in true concept car style with plenty of carbon fibre touches, four bucket seats and decorative crystal glass.

The Vision RS concept features a plug-in hybrid petrol powertrain, mating the Volkswagen Group’s 1.5-litre TSI four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. The petrol engine produces 148bhp and is supported by a 101bhp electric motor. The two motors don’t quite produce maximum power at the same time, so total output is rated at 242bhp. Drive is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and Skoda claims 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds with a top speed of 130mph. The electric motor is fed power from a 13kWh battery pack, and Skoda claims that up to 43 miles of all electric running is possible. 

Speaking to Auto Express ahead of the car’s unveiling Bjoern Kroell, Skoda’s head of product marketing and commercial electrification, suggested that the set-up would be a realistic production proposition from next year will be the basis for Skoda’s first production plug-in hybrid, the Superb PHEV due in 2019, and added, “This kind of powertrain concept can be seen in any Skoda.”

Skoda technical boss Christian Strube, said: “Hybrid drive systems can bring their advantages fully to the fore in sporty cars such as the Vision RS or future RS models,” strongly suggesting that the setup will be used in the forthcoming vRS version of the new car.

Skoda Vision RS driven

To get a better idea of what the future might hold for Skoda’s vRS brand, we took a trip to the Czech Republic to drive the firm’s latest concept car.

Our quick spin in the Vision RS, which also previews the firm’s forthcoming Scala hatchback, was limited a few laps of an empty warehouse at around 20mph. But, by sitting alongside exterior designer Dalibor Pantucek, we were given an insight into the future of vRS.

“We are an honest brand - we don’t want to use fake carbon. Nothing is fake; everything is functional,” Pantucek tells us. “We want the cars to stand out from the crowd, but we want a product that fits all seasons.”

The large 20-inch wheels aren’t just for show, either: “We’d really like to see these wheels in production. They lower the car’s drag coefficient; this is what we want to do,” Pantucek added.

The door mirrors are extremely thin and even the small slit beneath the mirror glass is functional – optimising air flow down the flanks of the car.

The cabin is equally representative of what we might see in a future vRS model. While elements have been exaggerated for the concept, the way the dashboard dips under the infotainment screen mimics the front end of the car – and is something we’re likely to see on production models. 

Pantucek emphasises the Vision RS’s reliance on environmentally friendly materials and surface finishes, suggesting this could also form part of Skoda’s future design direction. “We have focused heavily on animal-free, vegan materials. Good design is merging rational and emotional.”

The concept uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, comprising a 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine and 13kWh battery, which drives an electric motor. Combined, Skoda says that’s enough for 242bhp and 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds.

We’re restricted solely to pure EV mode. As such, the Vision RS is completely silent and – aside from a slightly tight pedal box – feels largely familiar to drive.

There’s a noticeable shove from the electric motor, and visibility is good thanks to the large glasshouse. Given this is a very delicate concept car our drive is too restrictive to gain any dynamic impressions, but we’re told such a powertrain could make its way into a future vRS model at some point.

Click here for everything from the 2018 Paris Motor Show...

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