UK Car review.
Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi 110 bhp SLX

 Exterior movie click here Interior movie click here

      
                    
We all know the old jokes.

Question: What do you call a SKODA with a sunroof

Answer: A Skip

Question: How do you double the value of your SKODA

Answer: Fill it with Petrol

 

These of course should only apply to the Pre VW takeover cars, those unloved pieces of rotting Czech metal with engines in the rear. But hey labels stick for a long time.

Of course now we do not believe that do we. We all believe that the Germans magically stuck the worthless Skoda badge on the front of its class leading range of cars, lopped a third off the price by getting cheap eastern European labour to build them and bobs your uncle great cars at discount prices.

I only life was so simple. The problem with doing that of course is who the hell pays extra for a VW badge when we all know that a Skoda is a VW. VW wanted to expand sales not cannibalise its own.

VW know that, So the real question is how have they managed to differentiate the cheaper SKODAs from the VW, AUDI, SEAT arms of the business.                        

 

 

Question: What do you call a SKODA with dual exhausts?
Answer: A wheelbarrow

We have got a Skoda in to test I am told. I don large shades to hide my eyes, pull my hood up tight to hide my shamed face. Usually with a new car I think, How well does it go, how well does it handle, how much does it do to the gallon, Now I'm thinking, " I hope nobody I know recognises me".

It’s a new Octavia TDi 110 , hood comes down, but glasses stay on for now.

Well it starts quite well, when Given the Skoda to test drive it passes the first few tests respectably.

Gone are the quirky eastern looks of the old strangely named models replaced with modern VW blandness.

Nothing remarkable but nothing displeasing to Western European eyes either.

It all seems built to the expected levels with no obvious strange and uneven gaps and joins. The design is subtle as it appears just a little more utilitarian than a VW. It will be interesting to see how VW advance the shape of Skoda models keeping a pleasing appearance without ever impinging on VW practicality, Audi poshness or SEAT sportyness. Can't quite see it my self.

Open the boot and you are greeted by neat carpet and not ancient WW II baked bean can engine.

Open the Bonnet and there sits an obviously VW diesel motor. So far so good. At least it looks as if nothing will fall off if it moves. Its also big, bigger than any old SKODA I can remember. It is also named almost as strangely funkily as the old models. OCTAVIA, hmmm very SKODA.

The test is starting to offer a little promise, open the door ignore the trim poke it the key and up it starts. If only everything in life was as reliable as a SKODA.

Pedals move, gear shifts smoothly, wheel turns smoothly, nothing rattles, nothing grinds, nothing grates, nothing falls off.

 

 

Question: Why do SKODAS have heated rear windows?
Answer: To keep your hands warm when you're pushing them.

It is as well specified as a Volkswagen. Whether that is good or bad I will leave it to you to decide. Alloy wheels dispense with the plastic hubcaps of old, Air con and full electric windows help keep you cool traversing the Russian Steppes in summer. In British spring only vaguely like an East European winter the heater works well to warm and demist the car.

The seats are comfortable enough though rather garish in pattern. Inside the Skoda is fairly standard European fair and somewhat lacking in flair. There are quite a number of SKODA logos just to remind you that it is not really a VW.

It's passable enough, and would not disappoint most VW owners. However, there is little to mark it out as remarkable, or even different for that matter.

 


Question: How do you make a SKODA go faster?
Answer: Call a tow truck.

Well a VAG TDi 110 is a VAG TDi 110 whichever way you look at it. Though its performance is not quite as raging as the AUDI A4 of my memory, perhaps its just Rose tinted spectacle at work. On the other hand, perhaps the middle range stomp is not quite so stomping as it once was.

As it is it pulls well below turbo cut in and fair stomps along above two thousand revs around the short rev range until it comes to an obvious point of diminishing returns, and really needs not the Rev Counter in all reality.

As a workaday car with few pretensions it goes very well, and the claimed top out speed of 120mph will not embarrass Germans on the autobahn. Not that any self respecting German would buy one.

Without the use of a jackbooted right foot economy could be excellent with a tank full stretching most of the way from Berlin to Moscow.

Noise abatement does not seem quite as strong as a VW, perhaps its just less deadening material under the bonnet saving a few deutchmarks. The Diesel makes it presence felt or should that be heard from tickover to Red Line. On the move its fine at tickover its very Taxi like.

The gearbox is more VW than Audi in nature without the Audis weightless feel, but none the worse for it. Matched to pedal weights very similar to a Volkswagen it feels very VW to drive.

 

4 cylinder 1896cc. 
8 Valve turbo charged 


direct injection.
110bhp up to 119 mph.
Standing to sixty in about 11.1 seconds.


 

Question: What do you call the shock absorbers inside a Skoda?
Answer: Passengers.

Technically it is a Volkswagen so you would not expect too many suprises here. Though there are a couple.

One it rides very well, feeling softer in the suspension, than you would expect from the German giant.

Two it handles quite tidily at slower speeds, but suprisingly pushes the nose wide quite easily as you press on a little harder.

Have they downgraded/rejigged the suspension? Put cheaper tyres on? Who knows! But its not quite as sharp a handler as you might expect.

The Power assisted steering itself is okay walking the line between VW and Audi in weight and feel. Lighter than one heavier than the other.

Brakes are good with ABS assistance it pulls up as well as any VW and without the over light grabby feel that afflicts so many AUDIS.


 

The new SKODA has an air bag. When you sense an impending accident, start pumping real fast.

OCTAVIA is built to western standards, rather than Eastern European make do.
There is a drivers and passenger air bags, the doors have side impact protection and there are pre tensioned front seat belts fitted.
Skoda also has a transponder style key which is uniquely coded to the car making it difficult to nick. But then who nicks Skodas?

A friend went to a dealer the other day and said, "I'd like a petrol cap for my SKODA." 
The dealer replied, "Okay. Sounds like a fair trade."

To many German efficiency may seem like a panacea for all ills, but as BMW found out with Rover, life and markets just are not that simple.

But VW were starting at a different base level with SKODA, and without the need to keep any vestiges of the old cars they have come up with a credible main stream brand.

The only problem is, you pay less money, but somehow the sum of the parts does not quite equate to the total that a VW comes out at.

You cant help but feel that subtle cost cutting, and a few deliberate mods to differentiate the Brands have left us with a car that is not so much an alternative as a cheap copy.

For all its good points it just does not quite drive as well as it cousins. Whether the saving is worth that difference depends I guess on your point of view. If a car is just reliable transport, than its fine thank you very much, if you are a touch more enthusiastic, then you might just be a little disappointed, especially if you trade from a VW.

Nevertheless, if you are trading up from an old SKODA, well then you will be bloody delighted, take it from me.

At least now your key chain will not bring a torrent of guffaws from your mates at the bar.

 

 

For full specifications on the Skoda range click here.


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