The Skoda Slavia Student Car Is the Roadster Conversion All Hatchbacks Deserve

A hopeful sign that young people aren't completely sold on the appliance automobile.

Skoda Slava lead
Skoda

Here in the States, all of our five-door hatchbacks are gradually being turned into all-wheel-drive, high-riding crossovers. Just add some extra coil spring there, a dash of plastic cladding here... and voila, you have a new, much more commercially viable automobile. 

Well, things seem to be a bit more, let's say, enthusiastic over at Skoda. That's because the Czech brand maintains a vocational school called the Skoda Academy, and every year they let their pupils loose on one of the brand's various models. This year, it made a number of excellent changes to the Scala five-door hatchback, and called it the Slavia. And by a few changes, I mean it's not a hatchback anymore.

Skoda

What began life as a humble competitor to the Volkswagen Golf is now a sleek, two-door roadster, complete with a lot more than just those unique lighting accents. There's a rather large rear wing, a bunch of brand new bodywork to replace the dearly departed roof, and new 20-inch wheels from the Skoda Kodiaq vRS. The new bodywork is the interesting part, of course. It was designed in-house and works together with a few other changes to the Scala's unibody, including the stiffening of the chassis. The rear doors have also been welded shut, of course. Even I wouldn't apply that much Bondo.

Beyond just the chassis and body modifications, there's also a few mechanical differences thanks to some parts from Skoda's performance cars. None of the vehicles that these parts come from are sold in the United States, so who cares what they're called. If you really want to know, the upgraded brakes and wheel hubs come from the Octavia vRS, which is like a better-looking Golf wagon. The Slava also gets a modified exhaust system, but that's bespoke to the vehicle, not taken from another Skoda model.

On the inside, the car gets a new 2,250-watt (loud) sound system, along with a plethora of additional leather trimmings. Also included are some racing buckets with four-point harnesses—a nice touch, but they likely won't be necessary to protect the driver and passenger from any unbridled internal combustion. The Scala, which the Slavia is based upon, receives a maximum of 148 horsepower from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and all of that power is sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed automatic DSG. This drivetrain gets the Scala up to 60 mph in a not-quite brisk 8.2 seconds. It's unclear what this combination can do in the Slava.

So what is this car then? It's a clever concept that proves you can turn a boring car into something a lot more inspiring. Of course, Skoda isn't sending this car to the U.S., and indeed they aren't sending it anywhere. However, it's good to know that younger car buyers still want cool stuff. The Slava is, at the very least, a faint light at the end of our crossover tunnel.

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