Your ŠKODA passed through here too. Explore the test polygon

Your ŠKODA passed through here too. Explore the test polygon

Every ŠKODA car undergoes a short but intensive test on the Quality Testing Polygon after leaving the production line. This test detects any shortcomings before the car goes to the customer. See what needs to be checked.

3. 2. 2022 Škoda World

There is one of these intensive testing tracks, which are used to check the quality of new cars, located at every one of ŠKODA’s production sites. For example, the ŠKODA SCALA, KAMIQ and FABIA models pass through the polygon adjacent to the M1 hall of the Mladá Boleslav plant where they are built. But all other ŠKODA models undergo a similar test close to their production line.

The quality test polygon is a relatively short test track consisting of various types of surfaces and hazards that thoroughly test the quality of the car’s construction. In addition, test drivers also perform other checks to make sure the car’s systems are functional. On the polygon, the cars complete two circuits, each approximately 450 metres long and each with slightly different hazards. The entire process takes about 12 minutes to complete, including the time it takes to drive the car there from the factory. 

The Quality Test Polygon

“In addition to the actual driving, the drivers test the functional elements of the car with the engine running so that the car’s 12-volt battery system does not suffer. Among other things, they check the indicators and their stalk returns, test the horn, wipers, windscreen washers, the functionality of the mirror adjustment, air conditioning and heating, window and seat heating, and the infotainment system,” explains Petr Konečný, the driving test coordinator from the Quality Management Department.

The ramp where the handbrake is tested.

To keep up with the pace at which the cars roll off the production line, there are fifteen test drivers working each shift. That number is the result of an analysis of workflow, occupational hygiene and industrial engineering data. The modernisation of work processes and the use of new technologies to prevent potential customer complaints is an essential part of the work of the Quality Management department headed by Dr Florian Weymar.

Every car is put through the same testing; no model is exempt. If the drivers want to flag up a potential problem, the car is sent to what is known as the reconditioning centre. Once the issue has been rectified, it is sent back for another test drive. 

The polygon’s diverse range of surfaces

Making sure everything is firmly in place

The track itself really gives the car a hard time. There are up to 14 different “obstacles” awaiting the cars here, twelve of which are used as standard, and two of which are just for more thorough checking in case of irregularities. The test starts on a ramp where the handbrake is tested. This is followed by a passage with special ridges made of cast iron, where the body’s rigidity is tested at speeds of 10 to 15 km/h and the driver watches out for unwanted noises. This section of about 14 metres in length is followed by another slightly longer section with similar cast-iron ridges causing a slightly different torsional stress.

Special metal ridges for testing the body’s torsional stiffness.

Next the car heads into a section featuring the kind of obstacles cars can encounter in real traffic. “We have a section with drains at varying heights, both sunken and raised, followed by an imitation railway crossing,” explains Petr Konečný. The car starts this section moving at the speed it travelled in the previous one, but by the time the car reaches the simulated level crossing it is travelling at speeds of up to 40 km/h. Then comes a section with the cast-iron bumps that are taken at 40 km/h again, followed by granite paving. These hazards cause the car to shake and vibrate in different ways. “The drivers watch to see if there are any unwanted sounds coming from the car, if there is any knocking or grating sounds,” says Petr Konečný. 

Section with drains at various heights, in this case sunk at various depths in the road 

After that the body gets a moment’s respite, as the car heads onto smooth asphalt where the driver tests the gear lever and the car’s behaviour during acceleration and braking. Here, the cars reach speeds of up to 70 km/h. Then comes a 50 km/h stretch of cobblestones grouped in different sizes and in different formations. That’s followed by a short section of completely smooth paving where the drivers perform an emergency stop from speeds of up to 30 km/h. “Smooth paving doesn’t damage tyres under full braking and simulates a slippery road,” says Petr Konečný, explaining why this particular surface was chosen. After that, there’s a kind of paving “stairway”, and then the car heads to the parking area where the aforesaid static tests take place.

The first of its kind

This intensive testing on the polygon is why your ŠKODA does not arrive at your door with zero on the odometer. The nature of the hazards on the polygon, however, means that the car has been thoroughly checked out, so there’s no chance that you will have to deal with a loose bolt knocking about somewhere on your new car, for example.

The paved section is used to make sure no unwanted noises are coming from the car. 

The polygon by Hall M1 was the first of its kind in Mladá Boleslav, and ŠKODA cars have been tested on it since 1994. Needless to say, it is continually being modernised. The individual sections also require occasional maintenance, for example to restore the surface to the desired condition.