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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


More used cars on Motoring Research:


“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.

'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


More used cars on Motoring Research:


“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.

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

What do you look for when buying a used car? A full service record, perhaps, and a long MOT. But a Skoda dealer in London will share information such as a nickname given to it by a previous owner, as well as any quirky personality traits and even any special family memories involving the car.

The scheme is being trialled at Willis Motor Company over three months in an attempt to make the used car buying process more fun – and if it’s successful, it could be rolled out across the entire network of Skoda dealers in the UK.

Skoda spoke to around 2,000 British car drivers and found that 40% said their car had helped to create special memories, while almost a fifth considered their car to be ‘part of the family’.

“Since the dawn of the automobile, the used car sales process has largely remained the same,” explains Skoda’s national used car manager, Nick O’Neill. “However, as our research shows, many people feel that some change is needed.

“After buying a house, a car is the most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make. When you look round prospective homes, it can help to add appeal to a property if you see happy photos of the current owner and their family hanging on the wall. You understand that if someone can love it there, you can too. We’re applying a similar logic to the used car sales experience.”

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

The manufacturer’s research reveals that a quarter of the British public think the used car industry needs a modern new approach. Just 6% of those surveyed described it as ‘fun’, and only 5% thought it was ‘innovative’.

The proprietor of Willis Motor Company, Dennis Willis, said: “We’ve been selling used cars for more than 25 years, and I’ve seen first-hand the way that the relationship between owners and their cars has changed. People don’t just own a car now – they love it, it becomes part of them and their life. No one has done anything like this in the industry to reflect that shift: Skoda is breaking new ground.”

The car dealer will include snippets about the car’s history on its website, in the showroom and on Auto Trader adverts.

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car’s name and personality traits

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

What do you look for when buying a used car? A full service record, perhaps, and a long MOT. But a Skoda dealer in London will share information such as a nickname given to it by a previous owner, as well as any quirky personality traits and even any special family memories involving the car.

The scheme is being trialled at Willis Motor Company over three months in an attempt to make the used car buying process more fun – and if it’s successful, it could be rolled out across the entire network of Skoda dealers in the UK.

Skoda spoke to around 2,000 British car drivers and found that 40% said their car had helped to create special memories, while almost a fifth considered their car to be ‘part of the family’.

“Since the dawn of the automobile, the used car sales process has largely remained the same,” explains Skoda’s national used car manager, Nick O’Neill. “However, as our research shows, many people feel that some change is needed.

“After buying a house, a car is the most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make. When you look round prospective homes, it can help to add appeal to a property if you see happy photos of the current owner and their family hanging on the wall. You understand that if someone can love it there, you can too. We’re applying a similar logic to the used car sales experience.”

This Skoda dealer will tell you your car's name and personality traits

The manufacturer’s research reveals that a quarter of the British public think the used car industry needs a modern new approach. Just 6% of those surveyed described it as ‘fun’, and only 5% thought it was ‘innovative’.

The proprietor of Willis Motor Company, Dennis Willis, said: “We’ve been selling used cars for more than 25 years, and I’ve seen first-hand the way that the relationship between owners and their cars has changed. People don’t just own a car now – they love it, it becomes part of them and their life. No one has done anything like this in the industry to reflect that shift: Skoda is breaking new ground.”

The car dealer will include snippets about the car’s history on its website, in the showroom and on Auto Trader adverts.

Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda Kodiaq prices start from £21,495

Skoda KodiaqHere’s a jaw-dropper for you – new Skoda Kodiaq prices will start from £21,495 when ordering opens in November 2016. For a large seven-seat SUV, that’s remarkable, no?

Just one small issue. The £21,495 Kodiaq, er, doesn’t actually have seven seats. You can only get them on SE models, and then only if you pay £1,000 more. So if you really want to get a seven-seat Skoda SUV, you have to pay from £23,945. Cheeky Skoda.

Ordering for the big new Skoda 4×4 will be for deliveries starting in April 2017: at launch, Skoda’s selling it in four trims, with several engines, creating a line-up of 24 separate models.

Skoda Kodiaq revealed at Paris Motor Show

Skoda reveals Kodiaq seven-seat SUV interior

Skoda changes town name in Kodiaq stunt

All models get standard air con, 17-inch alloys, LED running lights, DAB radio, smartphone connectivity and touchscreen infotainment. So the £21,495 ‘S’ variant is no stripped-out entry special, either.

SE models, as mentioned, cost from £22,945, and include bigger 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, dark rear glass, cruise control and a fancier touchscreen system. Cruise control, climate control and rain plus light sensors are standard.

We’ve covered the optional seats bit…

Want something fancier still? SE L models are priced from £28,595 and have seven seats (hurrah!), all of them trimmed in Alcantara, plus 19-inch alloys, sat nav, wifi, heated front seats and LED headlights.

You want more, don’t you. OK, how about the launch Edition? That has full leather, Lane Assist, blind spot detection, wireless charging, an alternative 19-inch alloy wheel design, metallic paint and chrome roof rails. It costs from £30,695. Which is still a whole heap of cash less than a new Land Rover Discovery.

Engines? Pick from a 1.4-litre TSI petrol with either 125hp or 150hp (the latter has ACT cylinder deactivation), or a 2.0-litre TSI with 180hp.

Diesels will sell best though: they’re all 2.0-litre TDIs with either 150hp, 190hp or, a little later, 115hp.

Base 125hp petrol and 115hp diesel Kodiaqs drive only the front wheels, but most of the others have four-wheel drive. Choose from either manual or DSG automatic gearboxes.

There’s a whole host of Skoda-first features available on the Kodiaq, but one of our favourites is one of the most practicality-focused: a door edge protection system. When you open the door, it pops out, to stop you scratching the door edge on walls. Shut the door and it slides back out of view.

It’s one of 30 ‘Simply Clever’ features on the new Kodiaq, from ice scrapers in the fuel filler flap to umbrellas in the doors – and seven of them, including those door edge protectors are new to the big Skoda SUV.