Behind the wheel of the Škoda Afriq, a student special for off-road racing

The concepts of the Škoda vocational school, which the team of students are building and showing to the world every year since 2014, are mostly cars for fun, for fun. This is sometimes really a lot, the mischievous citijet – a roadster based on the Škoda Citigo – from 2014 is incredible fun to drive.

However, this year’s machine seems almost as if it came straight from the race track. His name is Afriq and his students celebrate two things at once – the 120th anniversary of Škoda Motorsport and the responsibility of Škoda for all activities of the Volkswagen Group in North Africa.

The Dakar off-road rally was also created there – which is why the afriq, which takes the Kamiq crossover as its name and technology, looks like a special for off-road car competitions.

He introduced himself on Monday, May 23, and the next day I accepted an invitation to take a closer look at him and take a ride as well. I remember that the Slavia model, which the students introduced two years ago, was more of a showcar than a car that could actually be driven.

But Afriq really looks like he could race straight away. So will it be better on the demanding and bumpy race track in Bělá pod Bezdězem?

Unfortunately, I was not allowed off the asphalt.

Photo: Škoda

But first, I examine Afriq in detail. He received a dashboard, seats and a steering wheel from the competition fabia Rally2 Evo, with which the carmaker is very successful in the WRC2 class and in sales to private teams.

The fenders and wheel arches were modified for the installation of larger wheels with off-road tires, and the installation of the engine, all-wheel drive and octavia suspension, in turn, required major modifications to the rear of the floor. In addition, there is also a functional protective cage.

The Watergen system for the production of water from air humidity can produce up to 20 liters of drinking water per day, which …

Photo: Škoda

On the dashboard, coated with black faux suede to reflect as little as possible in the windshield in direct sunlight, there is a watch-like formation, which instead of time shows the temperature, humidity and supply of water in the tank.

By touching the display, the water can be poured into a small cup. Why a cup when the water is spilled out of it while driving, and not some closed containers – even if only a cup with a lid in which you get coffee at the gas station? It is important in this case to demonstrate the technology as well as possible.

… is not very good, but it will save you from the death of thirst, and that is the main goal.

Photo: Škoda

I try that too, I tap and taste some water. It’s just water – it quenches thirst, in an extreme situation it saves you from destruction, but it would not be said that it would be tasty. However, the important thing is that the system works.

The system is able to operate from 15 ° C and 20% humidity and this small unit can produce up to 20 liters of water per day depending on external conditions. It probably won’t be that much in the desert, but high temperatures help, I learn.

The transmission selector and parking brake and light controls come directly from the octavia. The console and other drivers are the work of the students.

Photo: Škoda

But I’m already getting into an extremely narrow racing seat – if I really had to race in this car, I’d need a chair over my chest wider – and I’m riding a six-point seat belt.

The interior comes largely from the Rally2 Evo fabia, including the dashboard. That means forget about sound insulation.

Photo: Škoda

A small voter who comes unchanged from Octavia IV. generation, I’m putting the dual-clutch transmission in D mode and I’m starting. At first slowly because of the photo shoot; the powertrain works as smoothly as one would expect.

But when the photographer is done, I step on the throttle a little more and very quickly I start to miss the possibility of manual selection of gears. The steering wheel from the Fabia Rally2 Evo got here, but unfortunately the paddles of the shift are completely missing.

The grip of the engine on all wheels is well known, and due to the incredibly soft suspension, I have the impression that the car is twisting a bit. However, not in the body, it is extremely strong thanks to the protective cage. The suspension can lean on it beautifully and bigger inequalities don’t throw it away, it manages them with grace and confidence, and I quickly gather the courage to start a little faster on the narrow circuit.

Afriq looks like he can race straight away.

Photo: Škoda

Sound insulation is missing not only from the engine, but also from the wheels and chassis. So the stones that the racing gravel tires throw when I cut a turn here and there or drive across the drift sand are really audible in the wheel arches.

After a few laps, I return the Afriq to my place and, full of impressions, I pull myself out through the cage. The result of the student’s work is really impressive – it’s not a car for fun, it gives the impression that it could start right away in some off-road rally. Of course, this will not happen, the Afriq will remain a student concept alongside seven other such cars.

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