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~ ~ Does anybody remember the old Skodas that used to be the butt of many a joke in the days before this Czechoslovakian car manufacture become part of the Volkswagon empire? For certain there are few, if any, jokes or snide remarks made these days about anyone driving one of these fine pieces of engineering.
~ ~ As regular readers of my opinions will be well aware, I review cars on a regular basis for the “Irish Taxi-Driver”, a monthly publication for the taxi fraternity here in Dublin, Ireland. This particular model of Skoda, the Octavia, has been a favoured buy of taxi-drivers since it made its first appearance on the Irish car market around 1997. I heard on the grapevine that Skoda were giving it a bit of a “facelift” for its 2001 appearance, so popped in recently to one of the local dealers for a quick preview.
~ ~ Based on the same platform and with the same running gear as the more expensive Volkswagen equivalent, the “Passat”, the new model Octavia has been “jazzed up” a little both outside and in.
~ ~ The model I inspected was the very top of the range 1.9 Tdi Elegance Estate, which produces a very healthy 110bhp.
~ ~ The exterior alterations to the 2001 model are fairly easy to spot. There is a far bolder and distinctive chrome-rimmed grill, and new front and rear bumpers, the front bumper housing three very prominent air vents in the spoiler section. New side-rubber strips are added, to give more protection against these little “shunts”, which can prove so expensive when the car ends up in the panel beaters. Also changed are the headlamps, which now come in clear rather than opaque glass, and also a newly designed rear light cluster.
~ ~ There is also more comfort for the rear seat passengers, with additional leg room of 22mm added, and the “extra” passenger in the middle seat get their own three point seat belt and headrest for the first time. The instrument panel has also been given a new look and added features, including indicator panels for oil level and brake pad wear, and a rev counter.
~ ~ Unchanged is the high specification you get as standard with this car. It comes equipped with electric windows, tinted glass, climate control, a front armrest, a nice looking set of alloy wheels, and a rather good 8- speaker CD stereo. There are both driver and passenger airbags, an electronic engine immobiliser, and a steering column that adjusts for both height and reach.
~ ~ This particular model is no slouch either, shifting you from 0 to 60mph in only 11.2 seconds, and taking you up to a quoted top speed of 119mph. (for German autobahns only, off course) With a fuel return of 53mpg, this also has to be one of the most economical to run cars in its class.
~ ~ There are no fewer than 33 different models and specification levels to choose from, ranging in price from £12,725 for the entry level 1.4 petrol model, to a whopping £24,165 for the “Laurin and Klement” Special Editions, which boast leather upholstery, heated front seats, electric sunroofs, and a cracking set of 16 inch alloys. (all prices in Irish punts)
~ ~ Prices are lower still in the UK, with the base model priced at under £10,000 (£9,800) We are always being “ripped off” on car prices here in Ireland!!
~ ~ At this point the Octavia is a “proven workhorse” as far as the taxi-drivers of Dublin are concerned. There are early models still on the road that have now covered over 200,000 miles without any serious problems.
~ ~ So if it’s an inexpensive, high specification and economical car that you are in the market for, you could do a lot worse than look at this new model Octavia from Skoda.