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Archive for the ‘Skoda’ Category

Handsome Octavia re-tested

In BMW, Skoda on March 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm

HandsomeI spent two days behind the wheel of a 5 Speed Octavia 1.6 diesel last week.

What surprised me most of all was the total absence of wind noise around the door mirrors which blighted the first one I tried a few months back.

The small engine is no match for my 2.0 litre BMW unit, but after two days I think I can say I like this more than my 320 Touring!

The ride was excellent, there’s a neat readout between the instruments which means one seldom takes a wrong turning, and the stereo was better than the one in my car too.

The seats were supremely comfortable and the economy was an exact match for my company car at 51 mpg.

night skoda

Okay it was painfully slow, but once whipped up to 70 mph it was fine.

I’m left wondering if I could have saved a fortune on my company car tax bill.

Well done Skoda.

Bottom Rung BMW

In BMW, Hyundai, Skoda on January 12, 2014 at 11:22 pm

IMG_00000843Excuse the photo, but I was so busy driving I forgot to take a decent shot.  Last week I drove from Frankfurt to Brussels in the latest generation BMW 316 diesel saloon.

This detuned oil burner is the entry level 3 series, but it still looked quite stylish in metallic paint and with alloy wheels.

Having been whisked to Frankfurt in a nearly new 740i I was looking forward to a stint on de-restricted German autobahn.

Except it didn’t go as planned.

The first hour I probably never hit more than 20 mph, and the next three hours it rained, and all lanes were busy.

So what do I think of the junior version of my soon to be company car?

TBH, it wasn’t that thrilling.

My current Hyundai 1.7 oil burner is quieter from cold, and at low speeds.

Driving a left hooker on unfamiliar roads after dark wasn’t the best intro, but I wasn’t convinced by the six speed box.  After all this is no ball of fire.

Official figures show that it will hit sixty mph in about 10 seconds (but it seems slower) and might just carry on to 125mph given a fair wind and an empty carriageway.

Speaking of which, there was noticeable wind noise over 80 mph (but not as bad as the new Octavia).

Three up I managed to eventually hit 115 mph, but it may have been quicker in Sport mode.

The basic seats (in cloth) were ok, but the cabin was a bit cramped when travelling with a tall passenger behind the front seats.

The boot betters old 2010 3 series, and I liked the bottle holders in the arm rest.

Economy on our trip was 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres, which works out at 55mpg, which I reckon is pretty good for a nearly new engine that’s still loosening up.

All things considered I would safely say I’d rather not take the bottom rung 3 series, but would look elsewhere.

Marked improvement

In Skoda, Travel on January 4, 2014 at 10:02 am

IMG_2647 IMG_2649The third Generation Skoda Octavia seemed likely to be the ideal machine for my high mileage day job.

Lots of toys as standard, much better looks and what seemed like greater engine refinement.

But my test drive only lasted 15 minutes.  I’d already decided something was wrong by the time I’d hit 50 mph, and done less than two miles.

The problem.

Wind noise.  Even on a day when it wasn’t windy.

The car zipped up to sixty in no time, even in standard 140 bhp spec but I expected more.

So I’ll end up with a car that costs nearly £10,000 more just so I can have a bit of peace and quiet on the motorway.

So this new chiselled look Octavia merits a giant leap forward, but will only suit folk who aren’t car savvy.

People who think being deafened on a dual carriageway is de rigeur.

I also noted that the fab pricing isn’t quite that clever.  A lot of what I wanted on my next car came as cost options.

Be careful to Czech this out before signing on the dotted line.

In case your interested.  Yes it was well put together, and is quite comfortable. You might want more.

from A to B

In Hyundai, Skoda on December 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

IMG_00000714There was a time when I’d willingly jump behind the wheel of any car.

I’d crave the intimate knowledge which you simply can’t get from the passenger seat.

I’m older now.

Some cars were only ever intended to offer the owner the ability to get from A to B.

Unless I’ve just hiked for a day on the Cornish Coast Path I have absolutely no desire to “just get from A to B”.

Although I’d have thought the previous generation VAG Skoda would serve up something a little more than this hum drum wagon.

IMG_00000715Look at the ingredients.

VAG parts, with all the essentials being donated by the MK6 Golf.

Roomy interior, decent warranty, and glowing reviews in most owner surveys.

So are we on to a winner?

If you simply want a set of “cheap” wheels then I guess the Octavia ticks all the boxes.

Until you’ve tried something a little more expensive from the more upwardly mobile brands.

To me this vehicle merely ticks the boxes, rather than tugging my emotions.

140 BHP and a 6 sped box may return 48 + mpg, and hit the sixty dash in under 10 seconds, but am I bovvered?

Not really.

Here’s where VAG fall short.

Everything feels unpleasant, from the inert steering wheel to the awkwardly shaped gear lever, yuk.

Then there’s the torquey engine.  It might do what it says on the tin, but does it need to sound like a Massey Ferguson at idle, or John Deere under acceleration?

The only aural plus I could detect was the lack of door mirror wind noise compared to the 2013 Octavia estate I drove recently.

IMG_00000716-2So in an effort to protect my ears I tried the easy to use radio.

TINNY on this model, and don’t be fooled by the big screen.  There’s no Sat Nav lurking inside.

What did I take away as a positive?

The seats seemed comfy, and it looks inoffensive.

One things for sure, I won’t be buying one.

My current i40 tourer feels far more refined.

Pick-Up a Convertible

In Skoda on May 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

The Skoda Fun was out of price range when it was new.  Many years later I fancied a car that offered the joys of open air motoring, and low insurance so our boys could get out on the road.  For just £2995 I picked up this brightly coloured Skoda.

Skoda brought just over 400 of these special pick ups into the country.

The standard car was launched to a fair bit of interest as vehicle featured a fold out rear bench which left those in the back seat exposed to the elements.  If that wasn’t wacky enough what about the interior?

Bright yellow soft touch leather seat bolsters and steering wheel look unsual enough, but the fabric on each seat was covered in a frog motif.

Probably half the Funs sold came with an expensive hard top, which allowed the car to operate as cavernous (if noisy) estate. Mine came with this useful addition, which was held on by four flimsy looking steel clips.  Taking the roof off was a two man job, and often disturbed the front rubber gasket.  So whilst the hard top was handy it certainly wasn’t a brilliant piece of engineering.

I bought s568 TWC from “The Chequered Flag” in Norfolk. It was the only one still for sale within the official dealer network.

My first impressions were good.  The salesman collected me from the nearby railway station in an Octavia VRs, even though it was nearly closing time.

If I remember rightly it had about 34,000 on the clock when I picked it up.  Once I left the dealership I struggled to make the petrol cap work and thought I may be marooned 300 miles from home.  Somehow I got it off and my journey began.

Sadly with the seats back and the hard top in situ this was going to be one horrendous journey.  The after market radio was next to useless.  My only sense of gratification came from the sip, sip nature of the 75 bhp VW engine.  In those early days I managed 40 mpg.

Back in Devon the car was pressed into regular use, both in our business and as expected as a runabout for our young sons.  Nobody really liked to go on a long journey using it as a 4 seater, that Truckman Top and the lack of insulation made it feel like you were driving along in a giant tin drum.

But on a normal day, roof off and two up the car had an altogether more agreeable character.  On a hot day with the seats back it created what you might call “an airy cabin”, and on a wet day with the bulkhead in place the little Fun was just that.  It was commendably quiet at 70 mph (it didn’t fancy going any quicker, and I broke a water pump trying to hit the magic ton).

Somehow even this low mileage example started to “hit” a few problems.  Like a rusty front wing (who had cunningly disguised it, the guy who traded it in or the dealer?), fixings for the rear seat came away and had to be replaced by parts from an old Laguna.  Tyres wore out but were replaced for a ridiculous £72 for a a pair.  I used it for towing, and abused it carrying stone from a Dartmoor quarry.

You’d never believe it but one pallet of rock 18″ high nearly broke the poor thing, boy did it struggle on the short journey back to our factory.

Worst of all was the horrid rust on the rear suspension bushes, oh and all the rotten wood strips I had to painstakingly rip out, replace and re-stain.

Why did I get rid of it?

Well it was looking tatty, the seats wouldn’t close properly which meant every journey was noisy.  I sold it for a knock down price of £600, and I;ve seen it on the M5 since.  I hope it gives him good service.