“After this it’s going directly to Beijing,” Stepan said, “so we have to be really careful or we’re in big trouble. Let’s talk about it first and wait for the journalists to arrive.” We wandered over to the VIP catering area. We were sipping coffee, sampling delicate pastries and admiring the VisionS from a distance, when the door burst open. Laden with laptops, iPads and carry-on luggage, in breezed the UK press corps.
John McIlroy of Auto Express, Richard Bremner of Autocar and Rob Gill of The Sun, along with their photographers, had raced up from Prague and were eager to see the car. Like me, they made straight for it, but unlike me they showed a little bit more restraint. “The green is beautiful,” gasped John in awe. “Yes, that’s very special,” said Stepan. “It’s like a chameleon. They had to paint every bit of it at the same angle to get that effect.” Meanwhile Richard admired the front end. “Look at that double grille,” he said. “Bohemian crystal glass,” answered Stepan, proudly. Rob, meanwhile, was discreetly instructing his photographer to take pictures of the door handle I had tried to open.
Stepan started to talk about the car, and his words magnetically drew Rob, Richard and John back towards him. Notebooks flipped open; they were consuming the facts. Sales figures. Production sites. What the Chinese market means. A plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle by 2020. I get lost in all the detailed talk of “powertrain”, “MQB” and “torque”, but their excitement at ŠKODA’s SUV breakthrough was palpable. “What will it be called?” asked John. “We are not releasing the name before the beginning of May. But it won’t be the Snowman,” joked Stepan, and they all laughed. I wasn’t sure why. But I smiled to myself for another reason: I knew something they didn’t.
Richard from Autocar broke away from the group and was slowly walking around the car, admiring every detail. I joined him wanting to show off what I knew: the top secret name.
“I like the direction the styling is going in. This is really crisp and distinctive,” he said.