A lemon squeezy concept from Mladá Boleslav.
A recent piece of mine mentioned Škoda having a sense of fun with their ghost car prototype from their EGV department. Then I found this. Škoda does have an odd way of giving names to their vehicles; the journalists of the car world (and occasionally those outside it) make mirth mightily with these monikers. There’s no point in naming these magazines or authors as we try to avoid such trivia at Driven to Write. My position is to defend and highlight even, the Czech brand’s wares and fully believe this car deserves it. And it’s very yellow.
The Joyster (ok, ok, the name is childish) harks from 2006 and the pen of then Chief Designer Jens Manske. His ambition was to produce a car not only for the Paris motor show but for the streets of Paris, Prague or possibly even Preston. Opting to “radiate love, beauty and emotion” this slice of lemon drizzle cake may not have made it to production per se, but themes and ideas from the Joyster most certainly did. And not one single calorie was added to your waistline.
There’s more than a few elements of future Škoda models here in the J car as we’ll call it from here. Roomster (yes, another crass name), the Yeti (oh dear), some Fabia in there and even to the electric Vision series (that’s better) this pure show car has led the Czech firm down a pretty well guided path. That sculptured bonnet adorns many a Winged Arrow.
But let’s return to 2006 and what the J car is all about. Jiří Hadaščok was initially employed as model maker at Mladá Boleslav. Hearing of the Paris show model, he offered Manske some of his efforts which were gratefully accepted and got him on the design team. Although the J car’s main protagonist was a fellow employee, Jan Tuček who got the nod, Hadaščok left model making behind and moved on up to external design, “a dream come true” he said. He helped facelift the Fabia.
The J car’s compact dimensions in a three door hatchback style make it look wider than it is. Aimed at youth culture, small families and those with a penchant for the now. Slapping on some lemon yellow paint enhanced the looks; The J screams youth, dynamism and cool.
The side and rear views are the J’s most pleasing angles, age has not been too kind to the front. The LED’s were new-ish then. Of course at the time that front end was more or less Škoda’s but the chrome embellishments don’t float my surfboard here. The side has that elongated affair, quite similar to an Evoque but with the Škoda ‘tick’ towards the rear.
With plenty of glass, since the roof is, barring the supporting material, glazed. All very light and airy – why, inside must be a veritable lemon soufflé – visibility outwards looks decent. That full panoramic roof winds up on the still unseen in the wild, Scala.
But it’s the rear that has perhaps most emotion and a neat party trick. The tailgate has two levels of use. Level one is an extension of the floor; handy for leaning against when tying up boot laces or adjusting your diving suit. Level two, adjustable by just one hand turns that tailgate into a bona fide dual seat with a 150 Kg capacity. Beat that Land Rover! So you could change baby, fish in comfort or sit and watch the racing cars, parked on a slope above the Knickerbook chicane at Oulton Park in the rain with the tailgate high above sheltering you. Splendid.
When closed, it’s rounded rump is again most pleasing. That vivid line encompassing the lights and reflectors lends some change to the yellow-ness of J. It would also help you find the car in the supermarket car park, a daffodil amongst the mass of greys.
“Mass production was never the ambition. The J was an exercise as to what an A entry model could be like, a first timers car,” stated Hadaščok. The wheel design from J ended up (somewhat smaller) on the both Roomster and Fabia Scout. The Rapid Spaceback benefitted from that elongated glass from roof to tailgate.
The inside now and this area highlights the speed of technology. A laptop would slot in and control the car’s functions, heat, light, audio, etc. Fourteen years ago, great stuff, room was engineered to store that laptop and a large digital camera for those bent on capturing and editing your mountain climbing (or abseiling) endeavours. No mention of a phone slot nor charger.
But those four individual seats look ergonomically astute. The boxes on the front seat backs have straps to become backpacks; crustless triangles and Babybels all round. I cannot fault the imagination nor the simply clever delivery but does anyone use these kind of gadgets manufacturers are so keen to festoon upon us?
The press at the time were openly optimistic over the J’s looks, youthful appeal, trend setting ideas and possibly very cheap pricing. Should J have made it to market, plans were for a seven grand starting figure with the ubiquitous ramp-ups probably doubling that.
To conclude then: when life throws you lemons, make a jolly decent concept car, cascade some ideas down the line then place it in a museum for safe keeping. Ice and a slice, darling?