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Skoda dealers take cars home for lockdown tours

Skoda virtual dealer

Skoda’s showroom staff are, quite literally, taking their work home with them. By using 4G and video technology, a Skoda representative can provide a customer with a virtual tour of their chosen car.

Skoda says it handled hundreds of video calls in the first week since the service went live.This comes amid lockdown measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Live demonstrations are available for the Kamiq, Superb, Octavia and Karoq, while pre-recorded video footage is available for the rest of the Skoda range.

John French, head of sales operations at Skoda UK, said: “Our dedicated specialists have been quick to adapt to the current environment and we have worked extremely hard to ensure they can continue offering support to our customers when they need it. I’d like to thank these colleagues for opening up their homes to enable us to provide this service to customers.

”We’re here to support in any way we can during these challenging times and more than anything, I hope our customers and their families are keeping safe and well.”

Electric Citigo sold out

Skoda Citigo e IV electric car

In a separate development, Skoda has removed the Citigo-e iV from sale. The decision was made after Skoda sold its initial batch of 400 units, with the allocation spoken for by mid-March.

The electric car will be available again when production restarts following the coronavirus pandemic. If you fancy an electric city car in the meantime, your best options are the similar Volkswagen e-Up and Seat Mii Electric.

A spokesperson for Skoda told Autocar: “We had lofty expectations for the car and customer demand was exceptionally high. As a result, it sold out quicker than expected.”

The Seat Mii Electric is available for just shy of £20,000, while the Volkswagen e-Up costs £21,000. These prices are after the government plug-in car grant has been deducted.

Skoda ‘blue light’ emergency vehicle sales up 75% in 2019

Skoda blue light sales success

Your chances of being stopped by a Skoda police car, or helped out by a Skoda ambulance, increased substantially in 2019. 

UK blue-light fleets bought an impressive 75 percent more Skodas in 2019, when viewed against sales figures for 2018.

A grand total of 792 Skoda vehicles went to help serve with the emergency services last year, compared to 454 the year before.

Octavia is the blue-light best-seller

Skoda blue light sales success

Skoda’s biggest seller to UK emergency services during 2019 was the outgoing Octavia Estate. Favoured by the police, ambulance and fire services, some 339 examples of the Octavia found new fleet roles in 2019. 

Against the 110 examples sold in 2018, this represents a considerable increase of some 208% for the practical wagon

The forthcoming fourth-generation Skoda Octavia, including a plug-in hybrid vRS, will be launched later this year in the UK. Skoda expects the new model to remain just as desirable to fleet users, following its launch in May. 

Scala now available to police fleets

Skoda blue light sales success

Another of the new models ready for police usage in 2020 is the Scala hatchback. The compact hatchback is pitched as a contender against patrol car regulars such as the Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308.

Skoda is able to sell the Scala fully prepared for police work. LED flashing lights are built into the windscreen, number plate surrounds, grille, and light bar. A three-tone siren is also included, plus all the relevant interior controls. 

During 2020, the Scala will also be joined by a version of the Kodiaq SUV, converted for use by police dog units. 

Distinguished service record

Skoda blue light sales success

Skoda is also keen to celebrate the lengthy association the company has with the emergency services. 

One of the earliest Skoda models, the 1906 Laurin & Klement C1, served as an ambulance. The 1930s and ‘40s saw a greater expansion of ambulance models, with Skoda exporting them across the globe. 

2017 saw the Skoda Yeti become the most-used emergency vehicle in the Czech Republic, with an armoured version of the Superb released the following year.

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5 billion a year

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5billion a year

New research reveals how much parking bumps and crunches cost the UK motorist. Apparently, we’re shelling out £1.5 billion a year.

The study by Skoda questioned 2,000 UK drivers on their experiences. It revealed that around 11 percent had seriously damaged their car while parking over the course of the last year. That’s 3.74 million people out of the UK’s 34 million motorists.

Around 40 percent said they’d hit a lamp post, tree or space divider. And the average bill for this damage was £396.

As for other parking problems, four in 10 of the motorists polled admitted to whacking another car with their door when getting out. In a year, the average driver also kerbs his or her wheels twice.

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5billion a year

Despite all this, our confidence isn’t dented. An ambitious 73 percent of Brits reckon they are good at parking. But only 53 percent think they’re good enough to get themselves through another driving test.

Of course, new cars can come with an arsenal of new technology designed to help you park. Reversing cameras, position indicators and software that displays exactly where your car is can take the pain out of the process. There are also systems that will park the car for you, although we wonder how many actually trust them to do so.

Parking prangs cost UK motorists £1.5billion a year

“While many people feel confident in their parking capabilities the numbers show motorists have forked out significant sums in the last 12 months repairing their cars from parking mishaps,” said a Skoda spokesperson. 

How Skoda is bringing the home into the car

Skoda living rooms

Car interiors of the future will incorporate more natural materials than today. That’s according to two members of the colour and trim team at Skoda.

Wool and linen fabrics will appear in seats, and the use of wood will gain ground.

This comes amid a shift towards vegan-friendly interiors and recycled materials. Leather upholstery and swathes of plastic could be a thing of the past. Indeed, faux leather is almost indistinguishable from genuine leather. 

Skoda cars will soon feature seat covers that use materials produced from recycled plastic bottles. Meanwhile, recycled fleece – commonly associated with warm clothing – is a suitable replacement for the foam used inside seats.

The industry is already using Pinatex, a textile made from pineapple leaf fibres, along with interior colours based on fabrics from soya or maize.

“In the future, the car will be more like a living room,” said Stefan Webelhorst, colour and trim team specialist at Skoda Design. As a result, designers are taking inspiration from real living rooms and from housing fairs and exhibitions.

“We need to spot trends and communicate them to our colleagues in other departments,” added Katerina Vranova, Skoda colour and trim coordinator.

Lighting will also play an important role in interiors of the future. Many manufacturers offer ambient lighting packs as standard on higher trim levels, but Webelhorst believes natural light will become increasingly important.

Designers will focus on the actual surface of materials and how light enters the cabin.

Personalisation and customisation

Skoda interiors

Webelhorst says car buyers will be offered more opportunities for customisation. Instead of being limited to pre-determined trim levels and packs, customers will be offered greater flexibility for personalisation.

“When a new car is being designed, once the exterior and interior shapes have been established it is our department’s turn to contribute. We decide which materials, structures and colours will best complement the overall nature of the new car.

”We communicate with interior designers to ensure consistency between the shapes and materials,” concluded Katerina Vranova.

Skoda Citigo e iV electric car to cost from £16,955

Skoda Citigo e IV electric car

The new Skoda Citigo e iV electric car goes on sale in December and will cost from £16,955.

This is after the £3,500 plug-in grant reduction, and is based on the entry-level Citigo e iV SE. The top-spec Citigo e iV SE L will cost £19,315 after the government grant.

Both models feature a 36.8kWh battery and a 61kW electric motor to provide a WLTP driving range of between 140 and 170 miles.

With a 7.2kW AC wall box, the Citigo’s battery can be charged to 80 percent in four hours 15 minutes, or 12 hours 37 minutes using a 3.6kW home-charger. The SE L model can be charged faster using a CCS cable connected to a 40kW DC fast charger.

The Citigo electric car – which follows the launch of the Seat Mii Electric – can hit 62mph in 12.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 81mph. There’s no reduction in the boot size, so the EV version gets the same 250-litre luggage capacity as the petrol Citigo.

Skoda Citigo electric car interior

In standard SE form, the Citigo e iV features climate control, a leather steering wheel and handbrake lever, remote central locking and a Swing DAB digital radio.

The SE L adds 16-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, heated front sets, rear parking sensors and body-coloured door mirrors and handles. Given the extra kit and the CCS charging capability, the SE L is likely to be the most popular model.

Both models can be linked to the Skoda Connect app, which means owners can check features of their car remotely, including the charge status of the battery.

Skoda Citigo electric car prices

The Skoda Citigo e iV will be available to order on 10 December 2019, with first deliveries expected early next year. Skoda hasn’t confirmed finance details, but the Seat Mii Electric is available for £199 a month on a PCP deal.

Skoda is investing £1.8bn in electrification by the end of 2022, with relevant cars wearing the iV badge. The Skoda Citigo e iV joins the Superb iV plug-in hybrid, while a production version of the Vision iV concept car is expected to offer an electric range of 300 miles.

Opinion: OK, Laura – make sure the new Skoda Octavia is good

New Skoda Octavia design sketch

Skoda’s new ‘Laura’ digital assistant has mastered six languages, is comfortable with natural voice and doesn’t mind being interrupted. OK, Laura, I have one request: please make sure the new Skoda Octavia is up to scratch.

The design sketches look positive, although talk of a ‘coupe-like roofline’ could rob the Octavia of its enviable USP: practicality.

Whether in hatchback or estate form, thanks to its cavernous boot, the Skoda Octavia has always delivered. Why buy a Golf when you can buy a Golf-based hatchback with a 590-litre boot? That’s more than the BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant or Volvo V60.

Opt for the Octavia estate and you have access to 610 litres with the rear seats up and 1,740 litres with them folded away.

All creatures great and small

Skoda Octavia paramedic

Little wonder the wagon has become de rigueur for those who put common sense above fashion. Paramedics, rural vets, the St John Ambulance, police forces and fire and rescue services are just some of the groups and organisations that have come to rely on the Octavia.

Only last week, we had to call the vet to deal with an animal emergency at home. He arrived at 1am, in a previous-generation Octavia estate plastered in mud and loaded to the rafters with veterinary equipment. The car just gets on with it – no fuss, no glamour, no bother.

That’s the Octavia way. Even the performance vRS has understated and under-the-radar appeal. Before the arrival of my first child, when it was time to ditch the Vauxhall VX220 in favour of something with more seats, I chose a nearly-new Mk1 Octavia vRS. My son was driven home from the hospital in it – I’ve never driven with more care and attention.

It was a terrific car, with the 1.8-litre turbocharged engine providing plenty of poke, plus boot able to cope with all the paraphernalia that comes with parenthood. I can’t remember why I sold it, but it was almost certainly for something less practical and less sensible.

The Octavia is one of those rare cars I’m happy to recommend to friends and family. It’s a dangerous game – giving advice is a risky business. What if your recommendation leads to an expensive mistake? You’d be better off giving a tip for the 2:45 at Kempton Park.

But I know of two people who have taken a gamble on an Octavia on the ‘strength’ of my opinion. Fortunately, they’ve lived happily ever after.

All things wise and wonderful

Skoda Octavia Scout

Savvy motorists know a good thing when they see it, which is why the Octavia Scout seems to attract a premium on the used car market. There’s something ‘old money’ about the Scout: a soft-road wagon for those who are confident in their own skin. The thinking person’s Audi Allroad. The less ostentatious Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain. The only rural wagon you’ll ever need.

Check this out: a 2019 Skoda Octavia Scout for £24,000. That’s nearly £10,000 less than the price of a Karoq Scout. The Octavia is more practical, better to drive and will look better parked outside the farm shop. There’s no contest.

I guess there’s a wider point to this post, and it concerns the diminishing appeal of the Skoda brand. Granted, it’s a personal opinion, but I believe it’s worth sharing.

Like all volume brands, Skoda has thrown its might behind a range of SUVs. The Kodiaq was followed by the Karoq, with the Kamiq the latest crossover to hit showrooms. All worthy, all a match for their immediate rivals, all bang on trend.

But there’s a danger that Skoda is losing sight of what made the brand so appealing to free-thinkers and those not swayed by fashion or trends. The SUVs are great and are what the market demands, but Skoda needs to maintain a gap between it and the Volkswagen mothership. Some clear space to leave room for individuality.

It’s this space that gave us the Felicia Fun, the Fabia vRS diesel, the Roomster and the Yeti. Much as I adore the Superb, especially in 272hp 2.0-litre petrol guise, I miss the cars that made Skoda feel like Volkswagen’s quirky Czech mate.

Let’s hope the new Octavia continues to major on practicality, with a keen price and an acknowledgment of what has made the first three generations so successful. The alternative is more people migrating to Skoda SUVs, and that’s a future we can all do without. 

‘Laura’ will tell Skoda drivers where to go

Skoda Laura in-car assistant

At the rate things are going, in-car digital assistants will require their own union or WhatsApp group. Laura is the latest virtual PA to hit the road, and ‘she’ is coming to a Skoda near you soon.

Skoda says Laura has mastered six languages, is quite comfortable with natural voice and doesn’t mind being interrupted. Ask nicely and she’ll even turn on the TV and put out the trash. Probably.

For now, Kamiq and Scala models equipped with the top-of-the-range Amundsen infotainment system will come with added Laura, but other models will follow.

Say “Okay, Laura” to activate the voice control system and Laura will spring into life. There’s no need to press a button or to use a set of predetermined commands or phrases.

Think of Laura

Laura Skoda digital assistant

As well as six languages, Laura is also comfortable with accents and dialects, which should come in handy for Skoda customers in some of the UK’s rural outposts.

Digital assistants are nothing new – many people use them at home or in the car – but Skoda’s decision to use a girl’s name is a little different. Mercedes, for example, uses the company name for its MBUX system.

Why Laura? It’s a name Skoda has used before, with the second-generation Octavia rebadged Laura for India

Laura-equipped models will come with an on-board eSIM card included as standard, meaning cars are always online. Skoda says the transition between online and offline services is “so seamless that occupants are never aware of it”.

Tell Laura I love her

Skoda Laura digital assistant

You can interrupt Laura at any time, with the radio or media player volume lowered rather than muted completely to give a “sense of having a natural, relaxed conversation”.

Thanks to Laura, lonely motorway commutes will be a thing of past – Skoda says that Laura will evolve to engage in a “kind of digital small talk”.

Much will depend on how Laura performs in ‘person’. We will report back once we’ve tested the system in the real world.

2019 Skoda Kamiq from £17,700 – prices and specs

2019 Skoda Kamiq prices revealed

Skoda has revealed the prices and specifications of the new Kamiq compact SUV. End to end, it’ll cost you between £17,700 and £25,130. The Skoda Kamiq will arrive in dealers in November this year.

The Kamiq comes in four trim levels, while four different engines are available. The S opens up the range with that £17,700 starting price, while SE and SE L flesh out the range through to £25,130 – all before options. Monte Carlo specification will join the lineup later in the year.

Touchscreens, from 6.5 to 9.2 inches

2019 Skoda Kamiq prices revealed

All Kamiq models will come fairly generously equipped as standard, regardless of what spec you plump for. Standard S spec comes with front and rear LED lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, DAB radio and a 6.5-inch touch screen. SE buyers get an upgraded 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay. Added too are rear parking sensors, dynamic indicators, cruise control, auto lights and auto wipers. They’ll also get body-coloured bumpers and 17-inch wheels.

Top-end SEL spec adds 18-inch wheels, sat-nav, a 9.2-inch touch screen, keyless go and blind spot detection.

A sporty touch with the Monte Carlo

2019 Skoda prices revealed

The Monte Carlo will add a sportier touch with gloss black detailing and badging, as well as 18-inch anthracite alloy wheels. Prices haven’t been released.

Engines – petrol only

1.0, 1.5 and 1.6-litre petrol engines are available, with either a manual or dual-clutch transmission. The 1.0-litre comes with either 95hp or 115hp. There are no diesel engines available at the moment. 

CO2 output for the Kamiq ranges from between 112g/km for the 1.6-litre TSI and 116g/km for the 1.0-litre TSI – not a great deal of variation. The 150hp 1.5-litre is yet to be rated in terms of CO2, tax band and pricing. At every level, the Kamiq costs just over £1,000 more than the equivalent Scala hatch.

Our personal perfect specification would be an SE with the 115hp 1.0-litre engine and a DSG transmission for £21,185. 

Full Skoda Kamiq prices

2019 Skoda Kamiq prices revealed

Kamiq SCO2 (g/km)VED BandRecommended OTRBiK 2019/20P11D Value
1.0 TSI 95 PS116G£17,700.0027%£17,475.00
Kamiq SE     
1.0 TSI 95 PS116G£19,135.0027%£18,910.00
1.0 TSI 115 PS116G£19,935.0027%£19,710.00
1.0 TSI 115 PS DSG113G£21,185.0026%£20,960.00
1.5 TSI 150 PSTBCTBCTBCTBC£21,110.00
1.5 TSI 150 PS DSGTBCTBCTBCTBC£22,360.00
1.6 TDI 115 PS112G£21,835.0030%£21,570.00
1.6 TSI 115 PS DSG112G£23,085.0030%£22,820.00
Kamiq SE L     
1.0 TSI 95 PS116G£21,180.0027%£20,955.00
1.0 TSI 115 PS116G£21,980.0027%£21,755.00
1.0 TSI 115 PS DSG113G£23,230.0026%£23,005.00
1.5 TSI 150 PSTBCTBCTBCTBC£23,155.00
1.5 TSI 150 PS DSGTBCTBCTBCTBC£24,405.00
1.6 TDI 115 PS112G£23,880.0030%£23,615.00
1.6 TSI 115 PS DSG112G£25,130.0030%£24,865.00

New Skoda tech spies on your kids when they borrow your car

Skoda geofencing tool for young drivers

Skoda has revealed new technology that lets you limit where your kids are allowed to drive.

The ‘geofencing’ function within the Skoda Connect infotainment system can also keep you updated about where young drivers are taking your car.

Skoda geofencing tool for young drivers

More than half of 17-24 year-olds rely on their parents’ cars after they’ve passed their test. Car sharing can be the best solution in financial terms, which is where the app comes in. It’s ‘ideal for when the parents are on holiday this summer and don’t want their offspring at home racking up the miles driving up and down the country,’ says Skoda.

The app will send phone notifications if the car steps outside of a ‘green area’ on the map. You can select regions on the map that are ‘green’ or ‘red’. The former is where drivers can go and the latter is where they can’t. 

Skoda reckons this spells the end of vague explanations like ‘just popping to the shops’ that previously might have resulted in unsanctioned joyrides…

Skoda Kamiq dials

Geofencing can be active on specific days and times, keeping at bay arguments about who gets the car and when.

Skoda Connect also allows you to keep an eye on fuel levels, driving data, whether the car is locked and its exact location when parked.

While the app itself is free via Apple AppStore and Google Play, the Skoda Connect online services package is an option.

New Skoda Kamiq: everything you need to know

New Skoda Kamiq

The Skoda Kamiq is the Czech company’s newest – and smallest SUV – and it sits below the Kodiaq and the Karoq in the range.

It has to face some serious rivals, such as the Renault Captur, Volkswagen T-Cross and the soon-to-be-launched Nissan Juke. But given the excellence of its larger siblings, it stands a good chance of being a smash hit.

We’re still waiting for Skoda to confirm UK specs and prices (we expect it to start from around £17,000), but in the meantime, this is what we know so far.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kamiq is pronounced ‘Ka-Mick’.

Skoda Kamiq: sizes

New Skoda Kamiq details

At 4,241mm long, 1,793mm wide and 1,553 high (including roof rails), the Kamiq is by far the smallest SUV in the Skoda range. For context, the Renault Captur is 4,122mm long, 1,778mm wide and 1,566mm high.

The boot offers 400 litres of space, which can be extended to 1,395mm by folding down the 60:40 split rear seat. This means it’s less practical than the Scala, which offers 467 litres extending to 1,410 litres.

Skoda Kamiq: engines

Skoda Kamiq dials

Four engines are available: three petrol and one diesel, with a choice of five- and six-speed manual gearboxes and a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission.

At launch, a pair of 1.0-litre TSI petrol engines producing 95hp and 115hp will be joined by a 1.6-litre TDI producing 115hp. A more powerful 150hp 1.5-litre petrol will join the range before the end of the year.

The Kamiq offers 39mm more ground clearance than the new Scala hatchback and can be fitted with Sports Chassis Control, which lowers the ride height by 10mm.

Skoda Kamiq: specification

Skoda Kamiq interior

We don’t know the Kamiq trim levels, but they’re likely to be similar to other Skoda models, so could include S, SE, SE Technology and SE L.

Some models will get split LED headlights with daytime running lights above (a Skoda first), while cars with full LED lights will get dynamic front and rear indicators. A panoramic roof will be optional.

Other options include a 10.25-inch virtual cockpit, a heated windscreen and steering wheel, an electric tailgate and a retractable tow bar. Standard features should include manual air conditioning, DAB radio, 16-inch alloy wheels and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen.

Skoda Kamiq: prices

Skoda Kamiq Apple CarPlay

Right now, this is the great unknown. The Volkswagen T-Cross starts from £16,995, so we’d expect the entry-level Kamiq to follow suit. Most buyers will opt for the SE model with the more powerful 1.0-litre engine, which should come in just shy of £20,000.

Skoda Kamiq: what else do we need to know

Skoda Kamiq infotainment

Skoda doesn’t make a bad car. Each one offers great value for money and is loaded with neat features. The Kamiq will be no exception.

Skoda is promising a range of ‘Simply Clever’ features, such as door-edge protection, a tip-to-close electric tailgate, a removable LED torch, an integrated funnel in the lid of the windscreen washer tank and, of course, an umbrella.

We’ll bring you full details of prices and specifications as soon as they’re announced, along with driving impressions when we’ve driven the car in the UK.