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Skoda Octavia VRS by ABT is a 290hp Golf R fighter

Skoda Octavia VRS

Volkswagen Group tuner ABT has got its hands on the practical Skoda Octavia VRS. And the result is a 290hp Golf R fighter…

Turning the Octavia VRS up to 290

Skoda Octavia VRS

A new ECU is behind the power increase from 255hp to 290hp. Torque is also improved, from 273lb ft to 302lb ft.

The 184hp diesel VRS can be boosted to 210hp, with torque up from 280lb ft to 310lb ft. 

“Our auxiliary ABT Engine Control unit adds an extra 45hp to the already quite potent Octavia,” explains CEO Hans-Jürgen Abt. “This allows it to stand up even to much larger vehicles on the freeway.”

As for performance figures, nothing is stated. But with 290hp in your all-wheel-drive Octavia, you’ll be gnashing at the heels of Volkswagen Golf Rs and Seat Leon Cupras.

Putting the hammer down

ABT Skoda Octavia VRS

Extra performance is all well and good, but power corrupts. To prevent that, ABT offers suspension springs to lower the car by 25mm at the front and 30mm at the rear.

An optional ABT anti-roll bar shore ups the dynamics of the VRS still further.

Mouth to match the trousers

 Skoda Octavia VRS

It’s rare one gets a performance upgrade without some visual cues, so you can fit your VRS with ABT wheels.

Three options are available, with two in 18- and 19-inch versions, and a third in 20-inch size. The latter is probably only for those with a sturdy spine…

Delivering online purchases to the boot of a Skoda Scala

Skoda trials online deliveries to your car boot

Delivering online purchases to the boot of a Skoda ScalaSkoda is piloting a new scheme that allows online purchases to be delivered to the boot of a car. All the courier needs is the car’s location and number plate.

The trial is being run by the Skoda DigiLab innovation division, which is assessing the remote access technology required to give couriers access to owners’ car boots.

Skoda stresses it is building in ‘stringent’ data encryption and access management, to ‘guarantee security’ for car owners. Its trials are being conducted with two of the biggest online retailers in the Czech Republic, alaz.cz and roklik.ch.

Skoda delivery app

Jarmila Plachá, head of Skoda Auto DigiLab, said: “This pilot project provides a concrete look ahead at how everyday life can be made even simpler and more convenient in future by using state-of-the-art technology.

“I’m looking forward to further developing this project together with our partners.”

The firm has already expressed its desire to bring the technology to the UK in the future, if the trials are successful.

Skoda car boot deliveries: how does it work?

Skoda delivery to your car boot

Modern Skodas are now fully connected to the internet: this has enabled the new technology to be developed.

Owners grant online retailers permission to deliver packages to their car boot through a smartphone app.

Couriers receive the location of the car via GPS. Upon delivery, they are granted one-time-only secure access to open the car boot within a small time window.

They place the parcel in the boot, use the app to re-lock the vehicle, and this automatically notifies the customer that the parcel has been delivered.

Skoda says the data is fully encrypted and the courier is only able to access the vehicle within a short time frame set by the customer via the app.

The trials, which are underway now, are focused on honing both the technology and the potential service it would support. A select group of Czech Skoda owners will also get to try the tech.

Skoda Kodiaq GT

Skoda Kodiaq GT is the Czech China-only Lamborghini Urus

Skoda Kodiaq GTYes, you read that right. Skoda has unveiled sketches of a chopped Kodiaq named the GT. And in silhouette and window line, at least, we are indeed seeing elements of the 670hp Lamborghini Urus dune stormer.

It’s a preview of what Skoda calls an ‘SUV offensive’ intended to further fuel Skoda’s presence in China. Indeed, the ‘dynamic coupe version’ will only be available in China.

It will be part of a four-pronged Chinese SUV offering, joining the China-exclusive Kamiq and, of course, the Kodiaq and Karoq that we’re already familiar with.

Skoda Kodiaq GT

China is, in fact, the largest global market for the Czech marque – it accounts for one in every four built. As such, these two exclusive SUVs should go some way to continuing Skoda’s strong presence.

Ample investment is fuelling Skoda’s new model drive. As part of its Strategy 2025, the marque’s SUV portfolio, as well as alternative-drive vehicles, is receiving a hefty two-billion-euro investment.This follows the name reveal of Skoda’s forthcoming Golf rival, the Scala.

Skoda Kodiaq GT

Of course, bar its Volkswagen parentage, the twin-turbo V8 Lamborghini Urus and the Skoda Kodiaq GT are unlikely to share much. Think what you like of the sporty exhausts recessed up in the bumper in the rendering: underneath, it’ll probably be familiar Kodiaq. Expect very little beyond the usual range of four-cylinder engines, and the usual manuals and DSG transmissions.

Not that much of this is relevant anyway. As above, we’re probably not getting it in the UK. Looks like you’ll have to settle for the Urus after all.

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Skoda Vision RS

The Skoda Vision RS is the hybrid hot hatch of the future

Skoda Vision RS

Skoda’s vRS performance offshoot has produced some compelling and innovative cars over the years. The old Fabia and Octavia made a strong case for sporty diesels, for instance. Now oil-burners are out of vogue, Skoda is teasing a different kind of fast, eco-friendly future: meet the hybrid-powered Skoda Vision RS concept, debuting at the Paris Motor Show this week.

What is the Skoda Vision RS Concept?

The company says it “envisages sporty Skodas of the future” – and we certainly see potential for a hot Fabia or Rapid here. Big wheels and angular styling mark this concept out even before you clock the ‘RS’ badging and aero details. Up close, a flash of red at the rear, sporty carbon elements, a big splitter and a rear wing make it look purposeful. Jagged LED lights aren’t dissimilar from much of Skoda’s – very handsome – current range.

Inside, it’s typically very sporty and up-to-date. Bucket seats all-round are a fun feature, and the large screen and virtual dials are attractive. There’s Alcantara everywhere, plus quilted leather and ‘Skoda’ splayed out across the steering wheel, giving a very premium look. Vegan materials and recycled carbon fibre fortify the eco appeal.

Innovation under the skin

Skoda Vision RS

The Vision RS is also quite familiar in terms of styling, though. It’s certainly not the most extreme-looking machine in hothatchdom. So where’s the innovation? Under the skin, of course. It joins the 500hp Peugeot 308 concept from a couple of years ago in being a hybrid hot hatch.

Admittedly, it doesn’t pack the Peugeot’s heady punch, but a comparatively measly 245hp sure sounds a lot more realistic. Providing that power is a 150hp 1.5-litre petrol engine connected to a 75kw electric motor. It produces just 33g/km of CO2 and will go 46 miles on electricity alone.

None of this sounds beyond the realms of production possibility. It’s all stuff we’ve seen on other cars, just nothing with a performance pretence. This is a car that could be in showrooms within a year, minus some of the sillier concept garnish. Rear bucket seats, we’re looking at you…

Hybrid hot hatches on the horizon?

Skoda Vision RS

So, should we expect a hot hybrid Skoda? You could be forgiven for wondering why hybrid hot hatches haven’t come to market sooner. Electric power is proven as a viable provider of truly epic performance – see the plethora of Tesla ‘Ludicrous Mode’ videos.

Expense is likely one reason. What’s more, current hot hatches, while being fearsome performance machines, are relatively clean and efficient. A modern Golf GTI is as clean as your average hatchback from 15 years ago. No need for cleaner electric power just yet, then.

But we reckon this Skoda is evidence that hybrid hot hatches are well on their way and, truthfully, we’re as excited as we are concerned. Electric power can mean limitless torque vectoring. On the minus side, it also means lots of weight. If the Skoda packs an extra 200kg of paunch for the privilege of hybrid power, it’ll need more than 250hp to make waves.

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Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

The best car features owners didn’t know they had

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists by Citnow has uncovered the 10 best-loved features owners found in their cars.

These range from interior ‘easter eggs’ that surprise and delight, to genuinely useful features that we’re surprised aren’t seen more widely.

Let’s look at the list…

Volkswagen Golf GTI: golf ball gearknob

Volkswagen Golf GTI Golf Ball Gear Shift

‘GTI’ is one of the most prestigious names in hot hatchery and by extension, one of the most revered badges on the road. Today, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the perfect double act of genuine class-beating competency and fun throwbacks to GTIs of old. One example of the latter is the golf ball on the gearknob, which heads the list of best-loved features .

Volkswagen Beetle: flower vase

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [from above]

If you thought the golf ball shifter was a fun trinket, the Volkswagen Beetle and its dashboard vase will appeal. The ‘New Beetle’, when it arrived in 1997, aimed to distil the cultural phenomenon of the original in a contemporary package. Yes, even down to some flower power… Motoring meets botany, resulting in perhaps the weirdest feature of any car from the last 20 years. It makes number two on the list.

Vauxhall Corsa: Flexfix integrated bike rack

Vauxhall FlexFix Bike Rack

The Beetle’s vase can be best described as a gimmick that’s most useful when you’re without a place to store your pens. The Flexfix slide-out bike rack on the Corsa (available as far back as 2000) is of rather more use to more people. Clever packaging makes it third on the best-loved list.

Skoda: integrated umbrella

Skoda Superb Umbrella

This one, especially for Brits, is a no-brainer, and somthing you’ll find in both a Rolls-Royce and a Skoda Superb. The door-stored umbrella has to be a godsend whenever you park up in wet weather. The challenge is remembering that it’s tucked away there.

Mini: ambient lighting

MINI Ambient Lighting

In the coolness stakes, this is close to the top. Ambient lighting has proliferated throughout the car market, but the playful implementation in the Mini is rated one of the best-loved features by buyers.

Honda: Magic Seats

Honda Magic Seats

Heading the list of practical but not necessarily cool quirks are Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’. These flip-up rear seats, which create a floor-to-ceiling storage space, debuted on the Jazz in the early 2000s and eventually made their way onto the Civic. Unlike a lot of what’s on this list, they are a genuinely useful feature if your Jazz or Civic is thus equipped!

Mini Convertible: Openometer

MINI Openometer

Aaaaaand… we’re back to the gimmicks. It doesn’t get much sillier than the Mini Convetible’s ‘Openometer’. This gauge records the amount of time you have spent travelling with the roof down. At least you can say with the utmost certainty how much sunshine you’ve got, before deciding whether to buy another drop-top.

Nissan: curry hook

Nissan Curry Hook

As unknown features go, this is about as middle-of-the-road as they get. How many cars do you know of with a hook specifically for takeaways? Er, none? Well, there is one. From 1996, the Nissan Almera came equipped with this feature, which you can now find in the boots of many new cars.

Renault Modus: Boot Chute

Renault Modus Boot Chute

This is a feature that was absolutely infamous at the time, mostly among journalists. The boot chute is one of those great ideas that simply didn’t catch on (the name surely didn’t help, although this was, remember, the company that also gave us the Renault Wind).

Too close to a car or a wall behind you? Need to load shopping? No problem! The lower part of the tailgate opened to create a ‘Boot Chute’. It provided excellent access for luggage in confined spaces. Bring it back, Renault!

DS 3: perfume dispenser

DS 3 Perfume Dispenser

The last item on the list is the DS 3’s perfume dispenser. Of course, it’s not actually exclusive to the DS. Many cars are now getting integrated fragrances, but it remains a laughable hidden feature.

Or is it? Plenty of us fit our own air fresheners, so why should a built-in one seem weird? Regardless, it rounds off the top 10 hidden features that buyers love.

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NewFabiaUK

You can share the ‘fascination of Skoda’ on Twitter

NewFabiaUK

Quite frankly, you can never have enough information on Skoda, so we should be thankful that the Czech car manufacturer has launched a new Twitter account.

Going under the username @skodaautonews, the channel will deliver corporate information, model news and exclusive details from new product launches. Indeed, from today, Skoda will be tweeting from the press launch of the revised Fabia.

Jens Katemann, head of communications at Skoda said: “We want to address many target groups, including journalists, bloggers and fans, through our Twitter account @skodaautonews. Everyone can now find out about our company and get in touch with Skoda quickly and directly via Twitter.

“The Skoda Storyboard has already given the brand a strong boost in terms of branding and reputation. Now we are taking the next step and sharing the fascination of Skoda on Twitter.”

2018 Skoda Fabia

NewFabia

The revised Skoda Fabia features a new look, five trim grades, four engine options, plus hatchback and estate variants. Dealers will take your order now, with first deliveries expected in September.

Prices start from £11,160 for the entry-level 1.0-litre S model, rising to £17,950 for the 1.0-litre turbocharged DSG SE L estate. LED daytime running lights are now standard across the range, while front-assist and a multifunction trip computer are included on all models for the first time.

In the meantime, the outgoing Fabia is available with a £2,000 contribution towards your finance deposit, with repayments from £149 a month. 

Skoda Karoq Police

Skoda Karoq joins the emergency services

Skoda Karoq Police

Once upon a time, it was the Land Rover Defender that you’d see hammering around UK roads clad in the colours of our public services. Fire and rescue, the police, the ambulance service – you name it, the Defender was on duty. These days, however, rather less agricultural machines wearing Skoda badges are out on the beat, with the Karoq SUV as the latest addition.

Keen to highlight that service record, the marque notes it has a “heritage of supplying emergency service vehicles that stretches back more than 110 years”. Skoda also points out that, in spite of the Karoq’s unassuming appearance, it’s fully up to the job, with its reliability, luggage space and 4×4 ability making it the ideal machine for public service.

The Karoq’s agreeable dynamics and a strong engine lineup are sure to be of use when weaving through a technical traffic jam slalom, as will its existing array of electronic driver safety and assistance systems.

Skoda Police

“We have worked closely with emergency services teams over the years to ensure that we are providing vehicles that are practical and can be converted to their exact requirements” said Skoda. “These vehicles are in constant use by life-saving teams and an integral requirement of any vehicle is its reliability, which Skoda delivers time and time again. The Karoq fits the bill in every way with outstanding handling, space and practicality.”

It’s not an iconic farm-hack-turned-emergency-hero like the battlefield-ready Defender, but if the service record of its siblings is anything to go by, we’re in no doubt the Karoq is fit for purpose. We happen to think it looks pretty pukka in its service livery, too.

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Sabine Schmitz Skoda Kodiaq vRS

Top Gear’s Sabine drives the Nürburgring… in a Skoda SUV

Sabine Schmitz Skoda Kodiaq vRSNobody knows the Nürburgring quite like Sabine Schmitz, but a Skoda SUV is an unlikely choice of wheels for a record-breaking lap of the ‘Green Hell’.

The flagship Skoda Kodiaq vRS will make its public debut at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, but no new performance car is complete without a lap of the Nürburgring to its name. We’ll have to wait a couple of days before the full video is revealed, but – spoiler alert – Skoda claims that it’s a “sensational record-breaking lap”.

We suspect Skoda is chasing the lap record for a seven-seat SUV, rather than the 7 minute 51.7 second set by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio last year. Alfa’s reign at the top of the fastest SUV lap board might be short-lived, as Lamborghini is likely to send the Urus on a tour of the 12.9-mile circuit this summer.

Alternatively, maybe the Czech company is gunning for the fastest lap… by a Skoda.

Lap time to be revealed on 14 June

This teaser video reveals the preparations that went into the camouflaged Kodiaq vRS’ record attempt at the Nordschleife, with the full video revealed on 14 June.

The Skoda Kodiaq vRS is expected to be a powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine developing around 240hp and 369lb ft of torque. To cope with all that power, the vRS is likely to be offered in four-wheel drive form, with five- and seven-seat versions available.

Speaking of seats, we rather like the look of the high-backed bucket-style chairs Sabine’s showing off in Skoda’s teaser image. 

The performance Kodiaq will be sold alongside the Octavia vRS, with the UK expected to be a lucrative market for the hot SUV. Around 1 in 5 of all Octavias sold in the UK leave the factory with a vRS badge, with diesel versions accounting for the majority of sales.

Prices are likely to be revealed in Paris, but with a seven-seat Kodiaq Sportline costing upwards of £33,135. we wouldn’t expect much change from £35,000. More news, including the full lap of the Nürburgring, when we get it.

Skoda emergency vehicles

Is this the sneakiest police car ever?

Skoda emergency vehicles

We don’t condone speeding, but most drivers are at their most observant barrelling up the motorway at 80-ish. While anyone who really cares about their licence would stick to the 70mph national speed limit, many are happy to exceed that while keeping an eye on the traffic ahead for lurking traffic cops. If they’re in a batternberg-spec Volvo or BMW, they’re fairly easy to spot, but what if they’re driving something a little more discreet?

Covert cars are increasingly being used by police forces, for obvious reasons. They blend into traffic and catch motorists acting naturally – whether that’s speeding, using their phone or driving dangerously. In the early days of unmarked cop cars, they were still fairly easy to spot. A white Vauxhall Omega or BMW 3 Series with lights ‘hidden’ behind the grille stood out a mile off, especially when driven by a someone in a hi-vis jacket and cruising at 68mph in the inside lane.

But it’s now getting harder to spot a sneaky unmarked police car. Enter the latest example from Skoda: the Superb 280 estate covert police car. From the outside, it looks like any other sensible Skoda wagon. But it packs a punch – that ‘280’ in the model designation stands for the amount of horsepower produced by its 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. As such, it’ll reach 62mph in 5.8 seconds and hit the limiter at 155mph. Not bad for a bulky Skoda estate.

Lights, sirens, action

We were invited along to the Longcross test track for a drive in the unmarked Superb 280. It’s extremely competent – four-wheel drive aiding traction as we make a quick getaway, working through the DSG gearbox all the way well into three figure speeds. All the time, it feels stable – despite being kitted out with the extra equipment required to do a traffic officer’s job. It’s largely standard, too, save for upgraded suspension (to cope with said weight, not to mention rough roads and speed bumps) and beefier brakes.

The lights – fitted by a specialist aftermarket firm – are operated by a series of buttons ready to put that horrible sinking feeling in the stomach of any speeding motorist. I should know – as we lapped Longcross at well over three figures, I caught a glimpse of a marked-up Superb cop car and thought I was about to have the book thrown at me. And then I remembered I was on private land with an off-duty traffic cop sat next to me.

Pressing the horn operates the siren, while doing so again changes the tone. And yes, I can confirm, it’s just as much fun to do as you’d expect. If you don’t want to hear the siren yourself, you may want to ease off a touch next time you clock an innocent-looking Skoda on the motorway.

In pictures: Skoda emergency vehicles

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'Celebs' go crazy for £550 Skoda Fabia on Auto Trader

'Celebs' go crazy for £550 Skoda Fabia on Auto Trader

'Celebs' go crazy for £550 Skoda Fabia on Auto Trader

The seller of a cheap Skoda Fabia advertised for just £550 on Auto Trader has been left bewildered after being inundated with questions from fake celebrities.

Twenty-five-year-old Johnny Delaney has received emails claiming to be from celebs including Matt Le Blanc, Lewis Hamilton and even Peter Pan after advertising his car on the car-selling website


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“Hey buddy, I’m thinking of moving to Skoda racing team from Mercedes next year,” quipped the bogus Lewis Hamilton. “I want a cheap run-around to test out the down-force and handling before [I] decide on the move.

“P.s. – I need Scherzi to fit in the back for sexy time,” he added.

Other highlights include Donald Trump, Olly Murs and Derek Trotter.

Delaney told The London Economic that he’s owned the 15-year-old Skoda for three years, and is now trading up to a brand new Seat.

“I do find the messages amusing but it is going on a bit long now and I keep thinking ‘I need to sell this car’,” he said.

“It seems people are just having a laugh about the car rather than trying to buy it.”

Pretending to be Queen guitarist Brian May, the emailer said: “Hey man, I need a car to get me to the Queen concerts without the fans knowing it’s me.

“Your Skoda is perfect but I have twisted my ankle so if I pay you could drive me for the next few months.

“That way ‘everything I do is driven by you’”.

The 2002 Skoda Fabia is a Silverline special edition that’s covered 90,380 miles. It’s advertised for just £550, but Johnny says he’s had just one genuine enquiry since it was advertised last week.