Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered

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The Superb‘s design secret has been deciphered

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-deciphered

VW-Gewachs: Before Jozef Kaban came to Skoda and most recently designed the new Superb, he worked as a designer in Wolfsburg

Source: Stefan Anker

Jozef Kaban is the new star among car designers. His latest masterpiece is the Skoda Superb. For the native Slovak, the car is a work of art, but also something very everyday.

M.an needs patience if you want to make a difference as a designer. Jozef Kaban has shown this patience, and now he is reaping the greatest fruit of his work so far. When the Czech VW subsidiary Skoda unveils the new Superb at the Geneva Motor Show in early March, Kaban will have reached his destination for the time being: then he will have all Skoda models put his stamp on it.

It took a good seven years. Firstly, the design processes take longer than you think, secondly, Skoda is not a brand that brings out new models for a long time, and thirdly, January 1, 2008 was not a good time for Kaban’s entry: Back then, all of the important Skoda models were just new or so advanced in development that Kaban could not change anything.

What he’s done since then can be studied well on the new Superb, the brand’s flagship. The car has become wider, flatter and angular; it now stands on the road as you would expect from a 4.87-meter sedan. The basic architecture of the modular transverse matrix (MQB), which forms the basis for many, many models in the group between the VW Polo and the Skoda Superb, helps here. The MQB creates shorter overhangs, which at least by today’s taste favors more attractive cars.

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-deciphered

The native Slovak for the "world" on the sketch pad

Source: Stefan Anker

Added to this is the experience of a 42-year-old design chief whose creative spectrum ranges from a toy car to the most exclusive large-scale production car in history. “My first car that made it into series production was a Bobby Car – in the form of the VW New Beetle,” says Kaban. In the beginning it was difficult to motivate yourself for this project because all the other young designers were working on real cars. “For me, too, the Bobby Car was a minor matter at first, but then it almost became an addiction. And hardly anyone talked into it. "

Learned under the father of the Golf IV

Exactly on his 20th birthday, Jozef Kaban came to Wolfsburg from Slovakia. Six months later the time began that would shape the young designer. Hartmut Warkub, then Head of Design at Audi, moved with Ferdinand Piëch and Martin Winterkorn from Ingolstadt to Wolfsburg. “A new era has begun,” enthuses Kaban. "Mr. Warkub was clear about aesthetics and made a serious step with Volkswagen."

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-secret

Kaban’s last coup for the time being: The Skoda Superb will attract a lot of attention at the Geneva Motor Show

Source: Skoda

The Golf IV was Warkuss’ masterpiece, everyone in the VW Group praises this car, which was released in 1997, to this day, but outside the company it is also recognized as a benchmark for sustainable design in the mainstream. Under Warkuss, who was responsible for design across the group, the other brands were also successful, says Kaban. “Skoda brought the first Octavia, and the Fabia was also a hit. And Audi went in a wonderful new direction with the TT. "

Jozef Kaban saw himself in a "surrealist film". As the son of a car mechanic, he had always only drawn cars as a child, although he was no longer interested in technology. “The sheet metal lies between my father and me,” says Kaban and laughs. “His enthusiasm is below it, mine is above it.” The memory of the so-called art school that he attended as a teenager also evokes a smile.

The subject he studied there was called in Czech as “shaping of industrial products”. That didn’t sound very convincing to young Jozef. "But when I saw what they were doing, there was no longer any doubt: that was my dream."

Skoda as the Czech brand par excellence

Jozef Kaban lived this dream intensely. He regretted that the day also had nights, he would have preferred to work around the clock back then. He learned from well-known designers such as Peter Schreyer (today Hyundai / Kia), Thomas Ingenlath (today Volvo), Dick Brackel (today Bentley). He fought and toiled, and the motivation was always: “Don’t be second. You wanted your own ideas to live on and go into series production. ”And then there was Bugatti.

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-superb

The Czech manufacturer has long since abandoned the label of the low-cost supplier. The superb serve as evidence

Source: Skoda

The multi-million dollar Veyron was also created under Kaban’s hands, which ultimately earned him the promotion to exterior boss at Audi and, in 2008, the call to Mlada Boleslav. Where a circle came full for him. In 1973, when Jozef Kaban was born, there was still Czechoslovakia, and Skoda was of course the brand there, also for the Kaban family. Admittedly, a Polski Fiat came into the house once, but otherwise: Always a Skoda, what else? "The brand is connected to the culture of this country."

This personal bond, Kaban also speaks of pride, may make it a little easier to work on Skoda’s future – although the brand today no longer has anything to do with what it represented when Kaban’s childhood days. If you put an Audi A1 and the new Skoda Fabia next to each other, you can’t tell at first glance which car comes from a premium manufacturer. You have to get in first, then you can see it in the materials used.

The Skoda Fabia is no longer just practical

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-vision

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The old Skoda Fabia was already practical and economical – in the new, third generation, the small car should now also be fashionable.

Source: Skoda

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With a base price of 11,790 euros, the Czech is just a little more expensive. In the entry-level version with 60 hp, the small car has, among other things, central locking, getinted windows and a multi-collision brake that brings the vehicle to a standstill after an accident.

Source: Skoda

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With the new design – flatter, wider and modeled with sharp edges – …

Source: Skoda

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… the nearly four-meter-long five-door model looks more grown-up than its rather rounded predecessor.

Source: Skoda

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The third generation Fabia has also been thoroughly modernized technically: According to the manufacturer, 65 kilograms less weight together with more efficient engines lead to up to 17 Procent less consumption.

Source: Skoda

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Under the hood are three- and four-cylinder, four gasoline engines with up to 110 hp and two diesels with 90 hp and 105 hp.

Source: Skoda

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Away from the simple gray hard plastic and the multitude of buttons, towards piano lacquer accents and touchscreen with the current Mirror-Link technology, with smartphone functions can be operated via the car.

Source: Skoda

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-secret

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The trunk now has a lush 330 liters volume (1150 liters maximum).

Source: Skoda

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-secret

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Also on board is the iconic ice scraper on the tank cap.

Source: Skoda

Even more than with the small cars, the big Superb has always called the premium strategy of the other group brands into question. Certainly, the Superb was not yet as dignified as the VW Passat or Audi A4 / A6, and the Czech sedan also suffered from a somewhat stiff-legged comfort, but all of that made up for the immense amount of space that has now improved again. In the Superb you sit and sit in the back, as far as knee room is concerned, at the upper class level. Seen from the outside, the stern was a disaster.

Rear of the Superb now with more gravity

Part of Skoda’s brand essence is that the notchback sedans look like notchback sedans at first glance, but still have a large tailgate, such as the VW Golf. This is the case with the small Rapid and the medium-sized Octavia, and the third generation of the Superb does not stop there. That creates better loadability, and it doesn’t make the trunk smaller. The old Superb had 595 liters to offer, the new one with a volume of 625 liters.

Skoda is sprucing up its models

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The particularly elegant and extensive equipment version L&K will also be available for the Octavia in the future.

Source: Skoda

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18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, as well as Alcantara leather covers for the seats and piano lacquer inlays on the dashboard set accents.

Source: Skoda

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With the Monte Carlo equipment variant, Skoda is expanding its range of products in the Citigo and Yeti series.

Source: Skoda

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There is both the Skoda Yeti and the Monte Carlo Edition…

Source: Skoda

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…as well as the Fabia Monte Carlo.

Source: Skoda

It’s just that in the past the design of this special design feature was apparently left to the engineers – it was only Kaban that gave the rear end of the Superb the gravity and dignity that it deserved. And even if the Superb is predominantly ordered as a station wagon in Germany: If you already offer a sedan, then it has to look right.

But Kaban’s job is not just to sharpen Skoda’s image by giving it a more elegant look and lighting up the internal competitors. For example, if you take a closer look at the sharpness of the lines on the new Superb, you will see that the Czech Republic can now also manufacture at the same high level as in Wolfsburg or Ingolstadt. At the same time, one of the tasks of the head of design is to step on the brakes, not just for reasons of compatibility within the group.

"For us it is very important that the customers who are already with Skoda can develop further with us."

Jozef Kaban, Skoda chief designer

Skoda is supposed to get better and better, but it is enough if the Czechs overtake the French, Japanese and Koreans, later also the German-Americans from Opel and Ford. Skoda is just not supposed to become a premium manufacturer, which is why a new Superb also applies Acquisition price of less than 25,000 euros. “We don’t develop the brand for myself,” says Kaban, “but for the customers. For us it is very important that the customers who are already with Skoda can develop further with us. "

Models like a dining room chair

Then the representative of a corporation speaks more than the independent artist. But is design art at all, like architecture? In view of the fact that millions of people deal with designed vehicles every day, and that for years if possible, a balance between fantasy and technology is essential, and psychology also plays a role. "It is not the job of our products to draw undue attention to customers," says Kaban.

More space in the Skoda Fabia Combi

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-deciphered

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Together with the sedan, the station wagon version of the Skoda Fabia celebrates its premiere at the Paris Motor Show.

Source: Skoda

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The spacious offshoot of the small car comes to dealerships in January with plenty of space, economical engines and clever details.

Source: Skoda

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The design is based on the sober, elegant design language of the sedan, nothing remains of the retro elements of the predecessor.

Source: Skoda

Man with vision: the design secret of the Superb has been deciphered-Jozef Kaban Skoda chief designer

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Thanks to the new platform, the space available has increased significantly compared to the previous model. Especially the trunk, which has increased by 25 liters to 530 liters – but only when it is fullr seating. If the rear seat bench is folded down, 90 liters less are available than before with 1395 liters.

Source: Skoda

If you see cars as furnishing the streets, then Skoda models should be something like the dining room chair that you can offer every visitor without acting as a show-off. But also without being ashamed of it. And this street furniture should last as long visually as it is technically. "We just make too many cars to make them short-lived and fashionable."

That all sounds logical, and it is also successful. Last year, Skoda passed the million mark in the number of cars sold for the first time. And when the new SUV arrives in 2015/16, larger and sportier than today’s compact SUV Yeti, there will be another boost, they assume in Mlada Boleslav. Above all, they expect much, much more from the Chinese market – where the Skoda is well received, but the Yeti is not: too small.

The path that Jozef Kaban took at Skoda is therefore not over yet. Creativity and a reliable taste are still required. But above all: patience.

Jozef Kaban, Skoda chief designer

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