Has already for the second time Skoda implemented the trainee-car project, which gives some of the students at the company's own academy the chance to realize their automotive dream: after the Citigo-based Roadster CitiJet last year, the Czech eleven in May 2015 got one in May after nine months of construction Fabia-based pickup completed. You could look at the study for the first time at the GTI meeting at Lake Wörthersee, now we were able to convince ourselves behind the wheel of the manual skills of the apprentices.
This first exit should also be the last, because the manufacturer has already ruled out mass production of the Funstar-named loading area Fabias; The Czechs even had a pickup truck on offer in the late 90s with the Felicia Fun - which inspired the name of the study. But the study, which was built by 21 boys and two girls from the Skoda Academy in over 500 working hours - in addition to the regular lessons - remains a unique piece that is currently exhibited on numerous occasions and will later find its place in the museum; or next to the CitiJet, which currently adorns the entrance hall of the school building at the main plant in Mlada Boleslav.
If other visions of the future often prove to be rickety, makeshift crates, the Funstar presents itself during our short test round on the site of an industrial ruin in the center of Prague that is now used as a slightly alternative cultural center as an extremely solidly built small car. To say it with VW boss Winterkorn: "There is no clatter."
No wonder when you consider that many parts are taken from the Fabia series. Chassis and drive train including seven-speed DSG remained untouched, only the 1.2-TSI engine, the trainees have trimmed from 81 kW / 110 PS to 90 kW / 122 PS thanks to chip tuning. The apprentices were able to demonstrate their manual skills, particularly in the body shop: From the B-pillar, they redesigned the Fabia, the rear row of seats, the trunk and the roof had to give way to a loading area lined with stainless steel. The tailgate was narrowed out of the former tailgate and they installed a thick glass pane behind the front seats. In view of the less than 4 meter length of the three-door basic Fabia, the loading area is not generous, but the around 2 to 3 square meters would definitely be enough for a bathing excursion with inflatable boat and cool box.
And in the lido the pickup would cut a perfect figure: As befits a show car, plenty of brainpower and passion went into the right styling. The paint buckets with the gray and white tones for the paint were ready on the shelf, but the bright, poisonous green that the vocational students used to set accents inside and outside was specially touched. This also refined the 18-inch wheels that the young talents borrowed from the Octavia RS. The cool appearance is rounded off by newly designed LED turn signals and taillights, green underfloor lighting and small projectors in the doors that paint the Skoda logo on the asphalt when opened. And of course the right sound must not be missing: if a 300 watt system was used in the CitiJet, in the Funstar it is no less than 1.400 watts that fill passengers and the environment equally - and the subwoofer takes over that with the right bass Massage function.
The 23 trainees, who prevailed in an extensive selection process among the approximately 880 students of the Skoda Academy in 13 training courses, were supported not only by their teachers, but also by Skoda's production director Michael Oeljeklaus and chief designer Jozef Kaban. Together they put a perfectly crafted pickup on the wheels that they are justifiably proud of; Even Piëch, the former chairman of the supervisory board, often called Fugen-Ferdl because of his striving for perfection, would have his real pleasure in precise manual work.
After CitiJet and Funstar, Skoda definitely wants to continue the apprentice car project in the coming years. After all, there are enough ideas: The trainees submitted more than 80 drawings in the first round, from off-road models and rally vehicles to the Superb-Lowrider. So it will be interesting to see what the apprentices will present next year.
Author: Michael Gebhardt / SP-X