The new generations of Škoda’s Superb and Kodiaq models have successfully passed intensive cold testing in the Arctic Circle. The vehicles’ functions, quality and durability were assessed in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. The main focus of these tests was on driving stability, passenger comfort in icy conditions and overall reliability during long winter journeys. In addition, the vehicles had to withstand the extra weight of ice and snow. With the extreme-cold trials completed, testing of the new models now enters the final phase. The new Superb and the second-generation Kodiaq will have their world premieres in autumn 2023.
“Real-world testing in the toughest possible environmental conditions remains a crucial part of new-vehicle development, despite the advances in computer simulation. Our extensive test programmes in desert climates with extremely high temperatures on the one hand and on the other hand in the Arctic Circle ensure that Škoda customers can rely 100 percent on their vehicles in any weather conditions. At the same time, these tests give us the opportunity to identify optimization needs as early as possible and to design the vehicles in the best possible way to meet the requirements of everyday operation.”
Johannes Neft, Škoda Auto Board Member for Technical Development
Comprehensive range of tests covering all vehicle aspects
Intensive test drives in extreme cold conditions are part of the standard programme for new-vehicle development. Škoda Auto regularly conducts such tests in the Arctic Circle, where the fourth-generation Škoda Superb and the second generation of the Kodiaq SUV have now proven that they can cope with any winter challenge. Every part of the test vehicles was scrutinised: chassis, body, engine, heating, and the entire electrical system.
Vehicle performance in snowy conditions
To assess the vehicles’ general winter performance, Škoda Auto examines the impact of snow on the bodywork as well as the effects of snow entering the engine compartment and air intakes. All mechanical functions of the vehicle body as well as the electrics must perform flawlessly even at temperatures of minus 25 degrees Celsius, and the engine should start without problems at temperatures close to minus 30 degrees. All doors, the bonnet, and the tailgate as well as the fuel filler cap and the cover of the charging socket on PHEV vehicles must be capable of opening even under such adverse conditions.
Tests examining driving behaviour and assistance systems
Numerous aspects of vehicle behaviour are assessed during real-world driving – for example, how well the vehicle copes with slush on the road, or how the front and rear bumpers perform when the vehicle hits a snow barrier. Driving over blocks of ice tests the robustness of the suspension and underbody. The test drivers check how the vehicles behave on icy and snowy roads and how well the assistance systems work. The testers evaluate the cars’ driving dynamics, the performance of the all-wheel drive, if applicable, and the functional characteristics and ride comfort of the suspension. They check whether the transmission shifts faultlessly and whether the windscreen wipers and washers work. The vehicle lighting at night and the acoustic behaviour of frozen vehicle parts are also tested. High-voltage batteries of PHEV vehicles are charged in a frozen state, followed by a determination of the maximum range. To precisely assess the vehicles’ durability in winter conditions, the test drivers cover tens of thousands of kilometres.
Testing interior functions
The test programme also looks at many interior functions, for example the performance of the heating system at extremely cold outside temperatures and the level of thermal comfort in the interior. The testers also check whether the windows mist up and how quickly they can be defrosted. Furthermore, they also evaluate whether the heating systems for the seats, the steering wheel, exterior mirrors, windscreen, and rear window perform as expected. Where applicable they also test the optional auxiliary heating. In addition, the drivers check how well the central touchscreen responds when the vehicle’s interior temperature has dropped below zero.