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The Skoda Vision X concept is a hybrid natural gas crossover

Skoda’s nailed the big and medium crossovers. Now it’s prepping a smaller Juke rival

Skoda’s big headline maker is a small crossover with gas. It’s called the Vision X, and though this door handle-free square of green is a concept car, there’ll soon be something very similar-looking to this in the Skoda crossover family. Probably sporting a name beginning with ‘K’, if the Kodiaq and Karoq are anything to go by…

Design-wise, it’s not a big surprise. Skoda likes sharp edges inspired by the crystal- and glass-making traditions of its Czech homeland. And cramming another crossover into the range is a no-brainer for Skoda. It’s the fastest-growing car sales segment of them all, and fellow VW Group members Seat already have the Arona (a taller, ruftier Ibiza) on the MQB-AO platform. So all the building blocks are ready for Skoda’s newest miniature SUV.

What sets this Vision X concept apart is its unusual hybrid system. The 1.5-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet has been converted to burn compressed natural gas, stored into two tanks either side of the rear axle. Skoda says the engine is equally happy to run on natural gas, sustainably extracted biogas, or synthetically produced natural gas. Using CNG, Skoda estimates CO2 emissions fall by 18-25 per cent, with a fraction of the NOx emissions. Switch to biogas or ‘unnatural gas’ and it’s effectively carbon neutral. 

While that engine delivers a healthy 128bhp, there’s an electric motor on the rear axle to provide short 51lb ft boosts and make the Vision X briefly all-wheel drive for tricky terrain. By using an integrated electric motor and belt-driven starter generator, the car deactivates its engine when coasting and diverts kinetic energy into the 48-volt lithium-ion battery. When it’s charged, the system offers 1.6 miles of zero-emission (rear-wheel drive) EV running. As more cities crack down on tailpipe nasties, these sorts of low-range hybrid boosters could become a lot more common.

Skoda’s also fitted a petrol reserve tank, and calculates – on the NEDC test – that a range of 403 miles is possible. It’ll also do 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and top out at 125mph. On current test standards, emissions are as low as 90g/km. 

What this drivetrain’s here to prove is that plug-in hybrid isn’t the only futureproof option – and there are lighter, cheaper solutions to reducing emissions in fairly small cars. In the meantime, the Skoda Superb is set to go plug-in hybrid in 2019, and by 2020 we’ll have an all-electric Skoda model too. So, the Vision X’s lurid green paintwork is no coincidence, then.

Right, who’s got ideas for a name beginning with ‘K’? Brainstorm away…

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