FR EE !
S K O D A II NEW Octavia & vRS Blackline › Fabia vRS › Rapid › Citigo
ENJOY THE PERFORMANCE
ON ME ED S
o, welcome to our second Skoda special of Road ROYLE MEDIA & ROAD Magazine. And we make no bones about refeaturing Road Magazine is published by the Czech Republic VAG manufacturer – as they are happy publishing & PR team, Royle Media. Contact us for your own knocking out some outstanding vehicles right now, none more so than the brand new Octavia, as tested in this very brand magazine – print or diggy – and perfect PR or SoMe. issue. It’s quite a step forward for the brand. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve Phil & Bonnie Royle recommended Skoda’s excellent range of cars to my www.roylemedia.co.uk friends and family, who ask me what they should be www.facebook.com/roylemedia buying next, to replace their VW, Audi, Ford or whatever. www.twitter.com/RoyleMedia But still (it seems, rather sadly and predictably), the old ROAD SNAPPER: Neil Denham badge snobbery issue is getting in the way. Those old, www.neildenham.co.uk 1980’s Skoda jokes have a lot to answer for... Skoda is a brand of pure quality now, make no ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke mistake. The build quality is as good as its rivals. And their www.avdmotorsports.com range of petrol and diesel engines is wide enough to accommodate most needs – as will their eclectic choice of ROAD RACER: Neil Primrose cars available now. www.islaracing.com www.travisonline.com The baby of the range – the Citigo – may not be as funky as the VW Up! it’s based upon, but it’s a cracker. And the all-new Rapid defines the ‘solid family car’ genre. ROAD I.T GURU: Steve Davies www.skiddmark.com Then there’s the new Fabia Estate, which we test in this issue with the vRS performance brand treatment, along Follow Road on Twitter, like us on with the out-going Octavia shape, in vRS Blackline form. Facebook, enjoy our daily blog & But if you want to know what Skoda’s new visit our Royle Media publishing & design language is really all about, look no further than the PR website, by clicking on the blob links below. award-winning new Octavia... oozing class, design and sophistication from every pore: Not adjectives you’d choose for a poor ‘80s Skoda joke eh? Road Magazine Editor, Phil Royle
The game changer
Skoda’s new Octavia – hatch & estate – is a game changer for the brand’s new “design language.” It may still be great value from £16,310, but the levels of luxury & finish set the new car in a different class.
ery few people could ever have imagined just how far Skoda’s brand image could actually go from all those bad jokes like ‘how do you double the value of your Skoda? Fill up the tank!’ But you’d better believe it! Take a look at the new Octavia. Sure, it’s still not the best looking of all hatchbacks, or even estates (although it looks better with a big boot on the back we reckon), but it’s loaded with bold design touches, like the new, heavily sculpted front lights and
triangular design rear end – giving it an identity all of its own, setting it apart from its rivals. And the same is true of the lavish, luxurious, superbly-crafted interiors (see right): They ooze quality and class, which far surpasses its £16,310-£24,020 price tag. Skoda’s might be all flash and funky these days... but the Czech firm still knows its core market... thems-who-likes-a-bargain! There’s a wealth of engines available in the range – from a little 1.2-litre, which sounds like it couldn’t manage to pull such a large
bulk about, but does! Then there’s a 1.6-litre diesel, which is suitably grunty and probably the most popular buyers’ choice, even over the 148bhp 2.0litre oil burner. But, should budget allow, there’s super speedy vRS variants now, in 217bhp, 155mph petrol or 181bhp (280lbft!), 143mph diesel form that are even capable of 61mpg. Wow. The Octavia’s new chassis and re-worked suspension are typical VW quality – an
effortless mix of good handling, with a comfortable ride – to varying degrees, depending on what variant you go for. Plumb for the vRS and you’ll get a firmer ride, but radically improved, engaging handling to boot... But all this is fairly run of the mill reporting of the facts. What the figures don’t tell you is what the new Octavia feels like to live with on a long journey... and that’s bloody fabulous. The glorious feeling of
space inside the huge, airy, modern interior, and top mid-hatch levels of quality and easy-use, generous specification combine with ace little touches like the under-seat storage/bin and the petrol cap-stored Skoda green ice scraper to give a feeling of care. You can tell the folk who design these new breed Skodas give a damn. These are thinking men and women, who work out what folk need and give it to them – well designed. They don’t guess, or try to be fancy, or do design for design’s sake... they just get it right through hard work,
thought and imagination. I for one really respect that. So many car designers these day sacrifice functionality over form – and the end result is dissatisfaction for the car’s unlucky owner. The seatbelt is annoying, the radio is impossible to function, the pedals are offset, the sat nav is inoperable except by its creator... you know what I mean. With the new design language Skodas, you don’t get any of that rubbish – especially with the brand flagship Octavia. Instead, you get good honest motors, with things
that work a treat, with everything where you expect it to be and working as it should. OK, the new Octavia is not the best looking car about, nor the fastest (although the vRS are quick), nor the most economical, or even the most advanced or best handling. But it does everything well... and there’s not many cars that can claim that, especially at the sort of prices Skoda are asking for their new Octavia. So, potential Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Ford Mondeo buyers, be sensible and test one of these first!
end of the Black line
The final swan song of the old shape Octavia was a blast, of the performance diesel kind... we meet the 170PS, 350Nm vRS Blackline
s a lad who cut my motoring journalism teeth in the school of the gone (& most likely forgotten!) Revs Magazine generation, I’ve got a very soft spot for modified cars. Call it an illness if you will. There’s not a car I’ve owned since I could drive that hasn’t been ‘enhanced’ – some better than others it has to be said. So, when Skoda announced they were ending their old shape Octavia range with a “factory tuned send off,” I was turned on. Enter the £21,260 hatch
or £22,300 estate vRS ‘Blackline’ – one of just 500 models – fully loaded with almost two grand’s worth of goodies and available in Candy White (yes please!), Magic Black or Race Blue metallic. The goodies in question are a set of very nice black 18-inch alloys, black leather, black sat-nav with DAB (yes, BBC 6 Music time!) and black, oh no wait, just normal parking sensors. But, as much as I like the moody black rims and the luxurious, supportive leather seats and the DAB
radio (forget the ‘I can’t drive’ sensors!), what the heck? Where’s the performance enhancing good stuff? These are all accessories if I’m not mistaken... Yep... popping the lid reveals nothing at all has been done to the 168bhp two-litre diesel (yes, it’s an oil burning vRS send-off!). No re-map. No exhaust. Not even an uprated air filter. Gutted. And the same is true of the suspension. Not even the standard manufacturer sports suspension tune of choice – a tiny 20mm drop!
Gutted, again. Am I alone in wishing that Skoda had fitted the 215bhp petrol turbo engine to this, along with a boost-wound ECU re-map to 260bhp, aided by a freeflowing rorty exhaust? Oh, and a set of Bilsteins, to flatten out the handling? And some huge AP Racing stoppers? Maybe I’m being unfair. To look at it – inside and out – the vRS is a treat. It’s cool. And I applaud Skoda for making it stand out from the masses. But I’d have loved it if
they’d have given the old shape Octavia (that established their vRS performance brand as a solid choice among those ‘in the know’) a proper send off – with real bite and attitude. Still, fair play to Skoda. Upon its release, they sold it without any VAT – at about £17,850. And that left you a further 20% to spend on some proper modifications, for more power and stopping and handling prowess... and head off for a track day or two. It’s just a shame you’d have to fill up with diesel, not Super.
Vroom with a view
Skodaâ€™s Rapid is spacious, practical, affordable and fresh. But is it any more than just transport?
koda is surfing a tidal wave of confidence in their brand right now – hence the launch of another new model in the highly competitive compact hatch segment, the Rapid. The Rapid was born to fill the gap between Fabia and Octavia and is priced as such, starting at a great value £13,000. But what do you get for your money? Space for one... and lots of it! Thanks again to Skoda’s team of talented designers, the Rapid might look like a small saloon, but it’s actually got more room inside
than a VW Golf – a point illustrated imaginatively on the launch event, when the team proudly pulled not one, not two, but three massive nets of footballs from its vacuous (550-1,490 litre with seats down!) boot and sat a six-footer in the back seats (with the front seat at full stretch). Impressed? I was... it’s a Tardis of a car. Combine the class-leading interior and luggage space with the groovy storage cubby holes and that now iconic fuel cap ice scraper and it’s all stacking up nicely for the new well-conceived ,
if ironically titled Rapid. Even the distinctly uninspiring, dull overall looks don’t really turn me off. After all, whilst its shape is designed to create space inside the car rather than make your heart skip a beat, the rapid still has some lovely “simply clever” design touches thanks to the new “design language” – funky lights, that triangular, boxy rear and clean sides. It might well be function over form, but it’s striking an OK balance. And the flagship Sport model does come with nice 17-inch alloys, gloss black boot spoiler and cool mirrors, so no moaning! Things start to decline a bit when you get inside, where the interior quality is nothing like that of the Octavia, or even rivals like the VW Golf and Hyundai i30. But what can you expect for £13K? It’s functional, gener-
ously equipped (especially in range topping Elegance, Sport and SE spec, but even good levels in basic S form) and light and airy. And with Bluetooth, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, air conditioning and a trip computer... who’s complaining? Not me. Engine wise, you can pick from a huge range of six engines: A pair of sweet and free-revving 1.2 or 1.4-litre TSi petrol versions with 74120bhp, or the slightly gruff and functional 90-105bhp 1.6-litre common rail diesel lumps, coming with fivespeed manual or DSG semiauto gearboxes (the Elegance and Sport versions are seven-speed). All the engines are fuel-sipping, with even the 120bhp, 125mph petrol returning over 50mpg and the frugal diesels – with Greenline eco spec – offering over 70mpg.
Still impressed... Where it all goes a little off script for me is out of town (where the Rapid is a charm) and onto the open road – where it seems the usual team responsible for Skoda’s superb (pardon the pun) ride and handling appear to have been off sick. The Rapid hunts out camber changes and refuses to settle into a nice rhythm. Instead, Skoda’s new addition lets you feel every bump and the vibration (and cabin/wind noise) inside the cabin make it a little bit of a wearing place to cover miles in, sadly – especially with averagely comfy seats. And, although body roll is kept quite well wrapped up, the default handling characteristic is set to 11 on the understeer counter. We know it’s not a sports car and is meant for carting families and all their gear
about, but a more neutral – yet still 100% safe – setup isn’t too much to ask for, is it? Family cars don’t have to be dull to drive – just ask the best-selling VW Golf and Ford Focus. In the final analysis, we really want to like the Rapid. It really is incredibly spacious for a hatchback. And you get a lot of gear for your cash. And we applaud Skoda for bringing in the new model to give them an impressively broad range now. We can even forgive the fact the Rapid is not that exciting – it’s not meant to be – or the fact the interior feels a bit cheap... because the car is really good value. Get the ride and handling department to give it a good going over, muffle some of the road noise, comfy-up the seats and then the Rapid could be more than just transport. It could be good.
Fast lane family 180bhp, 0-62mph in 7.3s and uber practical interior space, the ÂŁ17,150 Fabia vRS Estate is fine fast family fun
icture a boy racer – but not swearing at his iPod and smoking wacky backy, but speaking with a well-heeled accent, puffing on a walnut pipe and wearing a well-waxed Barbour jacket
– and you’re starting to get close to what the Fabia vRS hot mini-estate is all about. First impressions are a tad confusing: It’s slung low, with big shiny 17-inch rims, has a sporty exhaust and purrs
like a horny leopard on idle. But it’s also got a huge estate boot hanging off its back end and isn’t festooned in body kit or spoilers, just subtle vRS badges. What is it? Well, first things first... it is
hot, knocking out 180bhp from its ace super-turbo 1.4-litre TSi engine, which is enough to propel the micro load-lugger to 62mph in just over seven seconds and onto 140mph – thanks in part to the super-slick seven-speed DSG gearbox (there’s no
manual option). The spread of instantly accessible and impressive mid-range torque on tap is insane - making it genuinely quick. The steering has been worked on by someone who knows their turn-in from their lift-off too, as it’s full of feeling
and really connects you with the spacious pocket rocket’s movements. Ace. And the lowered sports suspension handling – although a tad dialled down – is connected enough to let you get involved when you hook it up through the bends, where
the extra weight over the rear adds to the lift-off oversteer fun. It’s a hoot to drive at full chat. Slow down and things are equally impressive. The gearbox short shifts nicely to achieve mid-40’s mpg on a run. And the ride quality
is excellent. There’s also no intrusive cabin noise and the sporty seats are supportive and comfy for long journeys. A turbocharged MINI Cooper Clubman might have a tad more grunt. It may even be a little more involving. But, it’s also £1,600 more to buy and
it can’t compete with the Fabia vRS Estate’s trump card – it’s massive 505-litre boot. This baby will suck up four adults, a baby and all the luggage they need no dramas... then whisk them to their destination, at pace, if looking a tad quirky in the process!
Slick & the city Stylish, practical and from ÂŁ8,210, certainly cheap. But is Skodaâ€™s Citigo fun?
un: Something that creates mirth or amusement. And, after a week cruising through cities and bimbling down b-roads in the Citigo... I can safely say the answer to the question ‘Is the Citigo fun’ I posed in the stand-first to this feature is a resounding yes... it’s a right bloody hoot. In fact, I’m truly astounded this amazing ‘city car’ starts at only £8K. It’s unreal. For that money on the base model alone you get a cool-looking (three or fivedoor), great fun to drive, well built and dirt cheap to run car – with a 12V power socket, manual windows and a 251-litre boot. What more do you need? Well, splash out on the Elegance, Sport or special
Monte Carlo editions and you can get a groovy little portable infotainment device (combining sat nav and Bluetooth in one), leather steering wheels, sports seats, 15-inch alloys, a body kit, sport suspension and even a trip computer. The Citigo’s cool one-litre, three-cylinder engine comes in two specs – with 60 or 75bhp, and is capable of 65-72mpg. And being blessed with so few cylinders and a minute cubic capacity makes it superbly responsive and revvy. It even sounds great, with a gruff, puffy, sometimes even angry little note to it. Citigo really is on trend and, combined with its direct (if light) steering, comfortable interior and diminutive stature, it makes
a fabulous blast-through-Londonwith-ease-unscathed car. Love it! Some folk (often with beards and poor oral hygiene) say all modern cars are bland and boring and nothing new is worth having. The Citigo begs to differ. To get a car that’s this much fun, this funky, this fresh, this cheap to buy and run that’s also reliable, practical and cool proves C21st motors do have something new and worthwhile to offer over cult classics. And when you realise can get a brand new Citigo right now from as little as £75 per month, it really is a bit of a no brainer. In fact, Why am I not already at my local dealership getting one instead of finishing off this feature... bye!
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