Volkswagen's Czech brand Škoda combines the best of both worlds with the launch of the new diesel-burning, all-wheel-drive Octavia RS 4x4 performance model. If only we could get our hands on one.
Automakers may be paying a lot of attention these days to making their crossovers and SUVs drive more like cars, but at the same time, they're also making cars that feel more like SUVs. We're talking about models like the Subaru Outback, Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70. These soft-road (if not quite off-road) wagons have a particularly keen following overseas, and that point is not lost on Volkswagen. In fact the German auto giant has soft-road models under each of its mainstream brands: Volkswagen
American buyers in the market for a hot hatch from the Volkswagen Group can choose between the GTI or the Golf R, but our compatriots overseas have more options at their disposal, all based on the same platform. They can go for more Latin flavor in the Seat Leon Cupra (available in two states of tune) or for the more low-key Škoda Octavia RS. But soon, it seems, they'll have another choice on their hands in the form of an even more potent Octavia.
Skoda's second- and third-ever production compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles aren't exactly speed burners, but they are efficient. The Czech automaker, which is owned by Volkswagen, will introduce its Octavia G-TEC and Octavia Combi G-TEC models to most of Europe next month. Skoda's first CNG model was the Citigo, which debuted in 2012.
Škoda is, by our estimation, to Volkswagen what Mercury was to Ford, Oldsmobile was to General Motors or Lancia was (and technically still is) to Fiat: not quite a luxury brand, but appealing to conservative tastes just the same. (Only where those brands have all faltered, VW still seems to be making a go of Škoda.)
Every year, an array of European car magazines get together to name their Car of the Year. The jury is made up of editors from Italy's Auto magazine, UK's Autocar, Spain's Autopista, Holland's Autovisie, France's L'Automobile, Germany's Stern and Sweden's Vi Bilägare. Together they identify 30 candidates for the award, then whittle it down to seven nominees before announcing the winner at the Geneva Motor Show.
Skoda may not fall on your radar screen since it doesn't market in North America, but don't think for one second that it doesn't count. Volkswagen's Czech subsidiary sells and even manufactures cars around the world that sell in big numbers. In fact, it just built it four-millionth Octavia.
Skoda, oh Skoda. You're just so cool. Maybe it's the fact that it's a brand that we don't get in these United States, but Skoda's rebadged Volkswagens, in particular the new Octavia vRS shown here, are just different enough from the hum-drum VWs on our shores that the Czech brand seems strangely desirable. Maybe we're just craving forbidden fruit.
We've been led to expect good things out of the third-generation Škoda Octavia, Volkswagen's new Czech-badged C-segment entrant that rides atop the company's MQB architecture along with the new Audi A3 and VW Golf. We liked what we saw of the handsome – if conservative – standard model when it was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and now the recipe looks to be getting a bit more interesting with this new vRS model.
The massive number of safety devices, explosives, electronics and construction materials in modern cars means that extricating someone from a wrecked vehicle is no longer just a matter of a Sawzall and twelve minutes. Carmakers work with first responders so that the men and women who save lives can actually figure out how to get to the lives in question without doing further damage to the people inside or themselves.
Of all of the divisions under the Volkswagen Group's vast corporate umbrella, Skoda's wouldn't exactly be what you'd call the most exciting. But the Czech automaker is working on improving that. Skoda plans on releasing a new product every six months for the next two years, and this is the first in its new model offensive.
Skoda has officially kicked off production of a ten-vehicle trial fleet of its first-ever electric automobile, the Octavia Green E Line. Skoda says that production of the Octavia E Line represents the automaker's next step in its, "continued efforts to reduce emissions and consumption levels throughout the company."
There are places you expect to find a Škoda, and places you don't. European streets, for example, fall squarely into the former category. Dried up lake beds in the United States, however, belong firmly in the latter. But someone forgot to tell that to the people who make the Czech Volkswagen derivatives.
The new entries just keep on lining up for the British Touring Car Championship, which is rapidly becoming the most varied racing series in the world. There are already 27 cars based on 13 different models from 10 different manufacturers, but now the touring car series is about to get a 28th, based on a 14th from an 11th, respectively.