there is a lot of criticism on the internet for the new front of the skoda octavia. photos:daimler, skoda photo:
Design is now the number one reason for buying a car. A mistake can take its toll – once with the mercedes e-class, now also with the new skoda octavia?
Stuttgart – comparisons with mercedes are often flattering for skoda. Time and time again, car testers have certified that the Czech VW subsidiary’s top models come close to the brand with the star. Recently, however, customers have also drawn a negative parallel: like the stuttgart carmakers a few years ago, the carmakers from mladaboleslaw are in the process of jeopardizing the success of their most important model through a design error. What mercedes has achieved with the e-class, skoda is now possibly on the verge of with the octaviabe.
The reason for this is the extensive overhaul of the popular family car, the third generation of which will be rolling into dealerships at the beginning of next year. the first official photos of the facelift were published at the end of october. They show a linienfuhrung, which according to skoda "further powerfully tightened", especially in front. The most striking difference: where there used to be two continuous headlights, there are now two divided ones that form "a four-eyed face with a crystalline look". The brand logo with the winged arrow now has "even more presence," enthuse the PR copywriters, and the entire front looks "more powerful, more characteristic and broader. Refreshed in this way, the best-seller, "the heart of the brand," will continue its successful journey.
"this is a grab in the toilet bowl"
But the enthusiasm of the marketing people is not shared by many skoda customers. On their facebook page and in other internet forums, the czechs mostly receive praise for the technical improvements or the redesign of the interior, but the new "face" of the octavia is mostly met with vehement rejection. Fans of the brand were appalled at how "a beautiful car could be disfigured in such a way". The new front looks "tinkered with" and "just ugly," and the twin lights don’t look right at all. The designers have thus "succeeded in reaching into the toilet bowl". The poor dealers who will soon have to sell "the monster" are to be pitied.
Again and again, critics felt reminded of the former e-class. Years ago, mercedes made a mistake with a completely similar front – and promptly corrected it. What was hailed there as a "progressive design language with clearly defined signatures" was less popular with customers. The company was not happy with it either, sales were disappointing. After just four years, the e-class was completely overhauled at a cost of allegedly one billion euros. From then on, the front was once again adorned with two headlights, and the customers who had been confused came back.
Automakers under pressure to update models
The case shows how important vehicle design is for the success of a car model. For several years now, it has been "the number one reason for buying," says lutz Fugener, professor of transportation design at the university of pforzheim; before that, it was passive safety. For the designers, this is a great success; they have "clearly improved in quality" in recent years, says Fugener. But the shift also has to do with the fact that there have been hardly any changes to the basic concept of passenger cars for years. one exception is the smart with its own space solution; the hybrid technology is not visible from the outside. This way, customers can sell "the smallest changes as sensational innovations". In the case of Tesla’s electric cars, on the other hand, no one is talking about the lights.
The dominance of design puts pressure on carmakers. "The logic of marketing constantly demands new models," says Fugener. With largely identical technology, the manufacturers had to differentiate themselves somehow: "You can’t just leave a good car as it is."Only rarely does a manufacturer dare to break through these self-imposed constraints – as in the case of the current VW bus with its "timeless design. Only a few details were changed in the latest changeover, and rightly so in his view, says the professor.
Skoda and professor optimistic
Many skoda customers also complained that the shell of the octavia would have been better left unchanged. It was not without reason that the work of the much-praised head of design jozef kaban won a number of awards, including the prestigious red dot award three times alone. But the german headquarters in weiterstadt near darmstadt defends the "further development" under kaban’s direction. A spokesman confirms that the new face is the subject of "very intensive discussion" on the web. It’s being watched carefully and taken "very seriously". ÄThere have already been similarly strong reactions to earlier facelifts, such as the second generation of the octavia or the yeti; there, too, the issue was the shape of the headlights. Both vehicles would have later "seamlessly continued the success of their predecessors". The company is very confident that this will also be the case with the new octavia – especially once customers have had a chance to see it for themselves. By no means, the spokesman emphasizes, is the front end based on the former e-class, as there are considerable differences between the two.
pforzheim design expert lutz Fugener encourages skoda. He personally finds "the four-eye solution also takes a little getting used to, but not unfamiliar". Unfortunately, the massive frame of the radiator grille prevents the inner headlights from forming a unit with the grille. However, the professor warns that the shitstorm on the internet should not be overestimated. Criticism is quick to be voiced these days, but hardly anyone likes the new face. In the end, it’s the buying decision that counts – and here he dares to make a prediction: "it will sell better than its predecessor."