Skoda Octavia vRS hits 325 km/h at Bonneville

August 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Last year Suzuki took a modified version of its Kizashi sedan to Bonneville in a big to break the 200 mph (321 kph) barrier and this year Skoda has done the same with its Octavia vRS.

In standard form the Octavia vRS sports the VW Group’s turbocharged 2.0 litre TSI engine producing around 150kW. This was never going to be enough so engineers from the brand’s UK team, along with partners REVO Technik made modifications including a Garret turbocharger to dial up around 373kW from the same motor.

Other modifications to the car included a high-octane race fuel supply, a full safety roll-cage, several aerodynamic aids, and a ride height that’s been lowered by more than 3-inches.

With the engine’s displacement unchanged the vRS was able to compete in the ’2.0-litre production car’ class. The hot Skoda achieved its goal and reached a top speed of 202.15 mph (325.33 km/h) during the Bonneville Speed Week. Continue reading “Skoda Octavia vRS hits 325 km/h at Bonneville” »

Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For most kiwis looking to buy a comfortable and practical family wagon the name Skoda doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But why not? Is it because buyers are still stuck in the eighties when Skoda wore the brunt of naff jokes about quality? Or perhaps because folks know Skoda is European and worry about durability and value for money? Whatever the reason, for many wagon buyers the Skoda Superb isn’t even on their radar. But it damn well should be. Skoda’s med/large size wagon has many of its competitors beat in some key areas and build quality is certainly one of them. With a frugal diesel engine and a four-wheel-drive system the Superb can travel to remote locations and it won’t cost a lot to get there. So does this fringe player deserve a new place as a major force in the wagon market? Car and SUV thinks so, and after spending a week with the newest addition to the Superb range – the 4×4 Combi, we’re ready to tell you why.

Exterior Design
It may not be the sexiest wagon to ever pick up the groceries, but the Superb has everyman elegance and a sleek low look despite its generous proportions. It’s nicely balanced for a wagon without too much rear overhang and a tightly tapered hatch that gives few hints to the expansive cargo space within. It has a neutral face with chrome trim surrounding the corporate grille and acting as teardrops under its wrap around headlights. Bright fog lamps flank a wide lower air intake and a scalloped bonnet line leads into the raked back windscreen. Continue reading “Skoda Superb TDI 4×4 Combi 2011 Review” »

Skoda to push Octavia vRS up to 320km/h

June 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

We’ve all heard the jokes about Skoda’s reliability issues and while we all laughed, these gags are no longer true and Skoda is out to prove this – however it can. The latest avenue for the Czech brand to change perception of it’s product is hitting the salt flats for some high-speed runs.

Few things will shut up the doubters faster than a couple of 300+ km/h runs at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats and Skoda is using the vehicle pictured above to do it. Based on the Octavia vRS this speed merchant has had its standard 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder boosted all the way up to 441kW giving it a solid chance of hitting the magic 200 miles per hour (321km/h) mark.

Turning the spanners on this special Skoda is tuning firm Revo Technik. They fitted the Skoda with full KW suspension, a limited-slip differential and special rolling stock. The modified sedan will hit the salt flats at Bonneville Speed Week in August. The occasion is to celebrate 10 years of the marque’s vRS performance badge. Continue reading “Skoda to push Octavia vRS up to 320km/h” »

Skoda Yeti TSI 2011 Review

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Skoda’s Yeti was first spotted on New Zealand terrain last year and was offered only in diesel engine/manual transmission form. Some were at first frightened by its unusual looks and segment-bridging body shape, but soon enough we all began to accept it. Quickly, people in the know went from accepting to admiring, and very soon the Yeti was scooping up nominations and awards both domestically and internationally.  Now for 2011, a second Yeti has reached our shores to form a two-strong Yeti pack with its diesel-powered pioneering sibling. This new Yeti is a full $10k cheaper and while it offers slightly less than the diesel model, its practicality and driver-friendly nature are shared.  Car and SUV was very impressed during its first Yeti encounter last year and again after a fresh sighting of the new-to-NZ petrol model. Now we can answer the questions of curious kiwi motorists.

So what the hell is it?
Good question, the Yeti is a small crossover vehicle or you could think of it as a high-riding hatchback. It shares its platform with the Volkswagen Golf and uses a 1.2-litre TSI engine that also has service in the Golf, Polo and the smaller Skoda Fabia. Continue reading “Skoda Yeti TSI 2011 Review” »

Skoda Fabia vRS 2011 Review

March 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Why is Skoda’s Fabia vRS hot hatch so angry? Is it because the ‘v’ in its name is lower case, or perhaps because it’s overheard too many Skoda jokes. Who really knows, but one thing’s for sure – it’s a little car with a big temper. At least that’s what Skoda’s ‘Made of meaner stuff’ ad campaign would have us believe. Advertising aside, the vRS has the honour of being the fastest Fabia built so far and it certainly meets expectations. The vRS thrives off a clever twin-charged drivetrain that when combined with the Fabia’s relatively low weight (1313 kg) delivers a seductively cheap thrill. Car and SUV spent a week strapped into a rally green, black roofed vRS to bring you the results.

Exterior Design

The Fabia body shape doesn’t allow itself to be turned into a hot hatch easily; it’s tall and quite narrow. That said, the vRS bas been dropped 15mm and Skoda has worked the front styling nicely with a bespoke front bumper with recessed fog lamps and a large low air dam that creates a gaping mouth. 17-inch black alloys look purposeful and fill up the guards with red painted brake callipers chomping away underneath. With the A-pillars also in black the vRS has a sporty floating roofline that is lengthened at the rear by a high mounted hatch spoiler. Down below, twin exhaust tips poke out from under a tough plastic rear diffuser.

There are also plenty of options to personalise your vRS, the roof and side mirrors can be painted in silver, black or white with the alloy wheels colour matched. Optional equipment includes LED driving lights, electric sunroof and tinted glass to keep low-key.

Overall, the design is very distinctive, very European and while it’s not overdone the vRS will still stand out on NZ roads. Skoda has done well to pick exactly the right areas on the Fabia body to show that the vRS is more than just a small hatch runabout. Continue reading “Skoda Fabia vRS 2011 Review” »

Skoda Octavia Combi TSI 2011 Review

March 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Octavia has the tough role of Skoda’s mid-size champion and while it was originally produced by ‘old Skoda’ between 1959 and 1971, the modern machine has been around since 1996. In 2004, again based on a VW Group platform the Octavia entered its second generation, and now after a comprehensive facelift the Octavia has received new powerplants, more equipment and updated styling. The Octavia has proved a consistent seller for Skoda but will this upgrade push its successes closer to that of its award-winning brother – the Superb. Car and SUV got some seat time in the reworked Octavia to find out more.

While it would be a stretch to label the Octavia a sports wagon it does possess some sporting design cues thanks to the recent updates. The facelift has given the Octavia the same chrome-framed grille as the larger Superb and dramatically curved front lights. Fog lamps flank a wide lower air dam in the front bumper and at the rear new light clusters sit above dual exhaust tips. The Octavia’s sides are sensibly styled with integrated roof rails and a window-line that stays low enough to allow good visibility for all occupants. There are some nice design touches if you look closer like body-coloured side rubbing trim, indicator repeaters in the wing mirrors and the Octavia name embossed in the headlights. Our high-spec TSI model came fitted with standard 17-inch ‘Pallas’ alloy wheels that look great but still struggle to fill the cavernous guards. Overall, the Octavia design has been refreshed in key areas rather than completely overhauled. It’s not styling that will set many hearts racing but it ‘s elegant, contemporary and has a practical focus. The Octavia is built for wagon users and that’s exactly who it will appeal to.

Inside the Octavia TSI there is plenty to enjoy, but like much of Skoda’s current product it’s the general sense of quality that really stands out. The dashboard is new and has dark plastics and contrasting silver trim that feels soft and tactile. All joins and shut lines are precise and there’s plenty of spots for small item storage and drink bottles.

The centre control stack is classy, compact and has excellent ergonomics making it easy to operate. Buttons and dials handle heating and air-con controls with a touch screen providing an interface for stereo functions and phone settings. Instrumentation is a large traditional two-dial arrangement with a two-colour LCD screen offering handy trip computer info. The leather steering wheel and gear knob are both taken from the Superb and are a cabin highlight. It’s a satisfyingly thick and smooth wheel with inbuilt audio and phone controls. Continue reading “Skoda Octavia Combi TSI 2011 Review” »

Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 2011 Review

January 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

There are a few different ways you could describe the Skoda Fabia. Being the lowest price car in the VW Group range here in NZ you could call it ‘cheap’. But with upgraded styling inside and out you’d have to say ‘cheap but not boring’. With a new advanced powertrain there’s been an increase in performance so you might say the Fabia is ‘cheap but not boring and quite peppy’. But that is still too generalised and it’s generalisations that Skoda has worked so hard to fight against while shaking-off its now dated reputation for poor quality. So Car and SUV put all generalisations and pretensions aside to find out the finer details on Skoda’s updated city car.

What’s new for the Fabia is a whole swag of visual and mechanical updates that give the hatch a fresh injection of attitude. The changes also better target the Fabia at stealing budget-conscious buyers away from character competitors like the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500.

The styling, while you wouldn’t call it daring, it’s fresh and is more distinctively ‘Skoda and proud’ than previous models.  Updates include the new corporate grille, a more angular bonnet and reshaped headlights. The changes don’t just align the Fabia with the rest of the Skoda range but also give it a wider and lower look generating a sportier stance. The blacked out A and B pillars creates a ‘floating roof’ that can be customised in a contrasting colour. Our test specimen was finished nicely in Pacific Blue with a white roof. At the rear, there’s a high-mounted hatch spoiler, jeweled taillights and a chunky bumper. It’s elegantly colour-coded with some fine detailing like the roof colour matching the side mirror caps. Standard wheels are 15-inch steel rims with silver covers and 195/55 tyres but our test vehicle looked sharp with the optional ‘Elba’ 16-inch alloys and wider 205/45 rubber. Overall the Fabia design is better than ever before, it remains more conservative than some competitors in the segment, but it has a genuine European appeal and is handsomely finished. Continue reading “Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 2011 Review” »

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