Innovation and tradition are two values that are inseparably linked with the Setra brand. As too is the consistently trendsetting design of the Ulm-based bus manufacturer, which has gone from strength to strength over the past 60 years and is responsible for the unmistakable face boasted by all its vehicles.
It all began with the first German bus with a self-supporting body that left the assembly hall in Ulm’s Weststadt in 1951. The S 8 impressed the experts with features such as a streamlined exterior, modern driver’s cockpit and good accessibility to the engine compartment.
The buses from the 10 model series, started in 1953 (1953 – 1967), also had a round design, however the front and rear were considerably flatter when compared to the S 8, thereby giving them a more compact form. The ventilation and heating systems were operated via a central ventilation duct which guided fresh air into the outermost corners of the passenger compartment. Sliding windows in the upper part of the side glazing and six roof hatches also ensured the vehicle was well ventilated. Only the S 7 model series launched in 1965 had the angular design which appeared two years later as part of the 100 series.
The emphasis on the roundness of the first Setra generations gave way to a more clear and linear design in the 100 series (1967 – 1976), marking a significant change in the bus construction sector. The heating and ventilation system was also upgraded and an air-conditioning system with cross-flow blowers introduced. Due to the high side windows, the standard glass-bordered roof option could be omitted for touring coaches. Further advantages included the full-length luggage compartments, corrosion-resistant, anodised light-alloy components on the window frames, bumpers, front grill and mouldings, as well as the underfloor protection.
The predecessor to the diverse 200 series was the S 200, presented at the International Motor Show in Geneva in 1973. One particularly impressive feature of this super-high-deck touring coach was its bonded glazing. This highlight, doing away with what had always been prominent window pillars, really raised the style stakes for modern bus design and triggered plenty of imitations. The vehicle already featured the innovative cross-flow ventilation system, which saw air entering and exiting the vehicle at the sides above the windows.
The 200 model series (1976 – 1991) boasted a design featuring no‑nonsense clear lines which represented practicality, efficiency and long-term value, while passengers were provided with an unmatched level of interior comfort.
The 300 series (1991 – 2001) represented a new era – also in terms of design. One of the most striking features of the new buses was the pronounced sweeping line behind the cockpit area, as well as the newly developed integrated mirror system that gave this model series its unmistakable face. The mirror arms could be heated and adjusted from the inside, and, despite initially being referred to as “rabbit ears” or “bug antennae”, provided the driver with all-round better vision in conjunction with the optimised A-pillars. This mirror system was immediately adopted by the industry and still inspires many competitors today. Another impressive feature was the ergonomically designed cockpit.
The most striking feature of the 400 model series TopClass touring coach is, without a doubt, the further-developed sweeping lines referred to as “La Linea”, a high-gloss aluminium trim, which stretches all the way to the rear. It is not only a visual highlight, but also conceals the side air inlets for the new cross-flow system. The integrated mirror system from previous models was also revised and moved from the A-pillars to the side walls. Thanks to creative technical thinking on the part of the engineers and artistic input from the design team, it has been possible to introduce a completely new sense of space in these vehicles, with seemingly free-floating luggage racks and indirect ceiling lighting.