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New Skoda Octavia, cast in the same mold, arrives full of new features

Fri, 14 Dec 2012

There's no reason a one-trick pony can't be an entertaining success - you've just really got to like that one trick. And while we're not saying that the new offerings from Škoda are one-dimensional, we are saying that it's a good thing we like the Czech brand's new design language; line up the new Octavia next to the Rapid and you'll need to know the details or the sizing chart to tell them apart.
The Octavia is the compact segment offering, but this larger third-generation comes packed with lots of new features. It is 90 millimeters longer and 45 mm wider than the previous car, with a wheelbase 108 mm longer, so it offers what Škoda says is more interior length, knee room and rear headroom than any other car in the segment. The hatchback opening at the rear hides a trunk that can hold 590 liters. For all that, it is up to 225 pounds lighter than the second-generation Octavia.
Four gasoline and four diesel engines will litter the options sheet, the most powerful of them the 1.8 TSI with 177 horsepower, the most frugal among them the 1.6 TDI GreenLine with 109 hp that gets 69 miles per gallon. All but the entry-level engines can be fitted with stop/start and brake regeneration, and a natural gas powerplant will be coming later. A hotted-up Octavia RS is also down the line.

VW outsells GM in China for first time in 8 years

Fri, 26 Oct 2012

In case you didn't know, Volkswagen is hell-bent on becoming the largest automaker in the world. The German carmaker has inched closer to that goal, having outsold General Motors in China last quarter for the first time in eight years.
Volkswagen's sales in China, its largest marker, increased by 21 percent last quarter to 704,991 units. Those numbers almost tripled GM's third-quarter growth, and were enough to beat out the American automaker's 664,765 sales. GM, however, still leads in year-to-date sales in China by a slim margin of around 77,000 units. The Asian nation also happens to be GM's largest market, and according to the report in Automotive News, China's car market may grow to be larger than the US, Japan and Germany combined in three years' time.
About the news his company was bested in China by VW last quarter, GM CEO Dan Akerson is quoted saying, "It's not whether you're the biggest car manufacturer. It's whether you want to be the most profitable." It should be noted of these figures that GM includes truck figures, yet excludes Hong Kong and Macau from its Chinese sales numbers, while VW does just the opposite. Through September of this year, Volkswagen had 5 of the 10 best selling vehicles in China. GM boasted three of the cars on that list.

Watch Skoda's Mikkelsen get quizzed while running a rally stage

Mon, 08 Oct 2012

If there's one trait all motorsports drivers have, it's an excellent ability to multitask. Sure, the pilots need to be able to keep an eye on the course and keep their vehicles pointed in the right direction. But that's not all.
Drivers also need to be in constant contact with either a navigator, a spotter or a pit chief while simultaneously making sure their car doesn't go supernova on the course. Skoda recently put driver Andreas Mikkelsen's multitasking skills to the test by giving him a pop quiz while he was slinging his IRC rally car around the Millbrook race track.
With questions covering topics ranging from rally history to import/export trivia, Mikkelson had his work cut out for him, but he handles the rapid-fire Q&A like a champ. Well, except for that question about Ukrainian pork. You can check out the video for yourself below.

2013 Skoda Rapid offers Czech flair in a Volkswagen world

Thu, 27 Sep 2012

Czech automaker Škoda has splashed down at this week's Paris Motor Show with its new Rapid sedan. The 2013 Rapid may bear a brand-specific front end, but the rest of the car isn't a far leap from its Volkswagen Jetta roots. We think that's a good thing, though perhaps the best instantiation of this corporate model is the new Toledo from Seat? We'll let the Europeans fight that one out.
The Rapid will serve as an entry point into the larger Volkswagen corporate universe for many buyers, offering a value-laden vehicle that is slightly less upscale than its German and Spanish counterparts. The Rapid will be served up with no fewer than five engine choices at launch: a pair of diesels and three different petrol-engined cars will fill out the roster.
Curiously, the Czech automaker already markets a very different model under the Rapid banner, a smaller VW Polo-derived model sold in India.

Why are these new Skoda models getting crushed?

Tue, 10 Jul 2012

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.
And that's apparently what's happening in the three videos below: Škoda gave rescuers in the Czech Republic a Superb, Octavia and Yeti to practice on, and the fire team used some heavy machinery to bash things up a bit before getting to work. We're not clear why they needed new models to practice on, so we're hoping that these cars were preproduction non-VIN vehicles that were destined for the crusher anyhow. The video isn't revelatory, it's just a behind-the-scenes look at how the people who help you help themselves first. You can watch it all in the videos below.

Seat officially unveils new Toledo

Tue, 26 Jun 2012

One week after leaked images appeared online and just a few days after its sister car, the Škoda Rapid, was revealed, the Seat Toledo has taken a bow. Expected to "write a whole new success story" for the Seat, the five-door and its "timeless personality" has a mission to be "a great car for a great price." All of which sounds like the Spanish marque really has very little to say about their new model, eh?
In contrast to the Škoda's seven powerplant options, three will be on the Seat menu at launch: two petrol-flavored offerings in the form of a 1.2-liter, 73-horsepower TSI and a 1.4-liter, 119-hp TSI, and an oil-burning 1.6-liter, 102-hp TDI. Next year, a less potent 1.6-liter, 88-hp diesel will be added to the range.
We'll have live shots of it from the Paris Auto Salon floor later this fall, after which it will appear in Spanish and Portuguese showrooms before exports expand to other parts of the world. Prices will be announced closer to launch, so scroll down for a presser with the other details on Seat's new baby.

Skoda recreates Stonehenge out of old cars

Thu, 21 Jun 2012

The UK has a burgeoning car market filled with all sorts of cars we don't get here. So to get buyers' attention, automakers need to make a real splash. To that end, Skoda has erected a fresh take on one of the island nation's oldest landmarks... only in a more automotive form.
Dubbed Citihenge, the installation is inspired by the ancient Stonehenge in Wiltshire, recreated out of old cars. It was built over the course of three months under the direction of renowned installation artist Tommy Gun, and put in place in less than 12 hours. Using eighteen scrap cars weighing a total of 36 metric tons, each of the henges measures five meters tall by five meters wide and is made to withstand force-12 hurricane winds. Still, it can be entirely recycled.
The installation was erected on the south bank of the Thames next to London's famous Tower Bridge just in time for the summer solstice, and marks the arrival of the Skoda Citigo (the Czech version of the Volkswagen Up!) in the British market.

Skoda reveals new Rapid

Wed, 20 Jun 2012

Just a couple of days after images of its sister car, the Seat Toledo, leaked onto the Internet, the Škoda Rapid gets an official unveiling. As expected, it is a 99.5-percent facsimile of the Škoda MissionL "concept" revealed at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show.
Given plenty of creases and sculpting, the Rapid is a sign of Škoda designs to come, which the brand calls "clear, precise, fresh, timeless and elegant." To our eyes it certainly isn't a bad way to keep an erstwhile Volkswagen Jetta fresh.
As with the Toledo, the price-value equation will be the Rapid's unique selling proposition for those not smitten with its looks, yet being a VW product it still won't skimp on engines: seven will be offered, five gas-powered and two diesels. Slotted between the Fabia and higher-end Octavia, the Rapid's brand new looks should help it make a name for itself among family types.

Seat Toledo leaks out ahead of Paris reveal

Mon, 18 Jun 2012

A concept version of the Seat Toledo was shown off at the Geneva Motor Show earllier this year, but it was clear that the concept was code for "almost identical to production." Four images of what appears to be the final version of the Toledo have dripped onto the Internet, and sure enough, the only exterior difference we can spot is that the mirrors now have body-colored uppers.
As a reminder, although it looks like a three-box sedan, it is still a five-door hatchback with a 17.6 cubic-foot boot capacity (slightly less than a Ford Mondeo) and slotted between the C- and D-segments in size. Engines are expected to be those also going in the Škoda MissionL concept, which will be the Škoda Rapid in production form and is the Toledo's sister car in the Volkswagen Group herd.
Price will be the Toledo's strong point, with Geneva-era rumors of a base price at €13,000 to €14,000 (around $16,300-$17,600 USD). In keeping with such frugality, engines are predicted to be of small-displacement and lowly horsepower in both petrol and diesel forms. After it debuts at the Paris Motor Show, along with the new Seat Ibiza and the Rapid, the Toledo should be in dealerships shortly thereafter.

Skoda Superb Combi Outdoor is Czech for "Allroad"

Tue, 05 Jun 2012

The Škoda Superb Combi has picked up on the "Allroad" habit of its flashier brother, Audi. As is to be expected, though, in Škoda guise, the design-package makeover as applied to the Superb Combi Outdoor isn't quite so flashy. The ride height and suspension are unchanged, and there are no steel undertrays installed fore and aft. But there is "robust synthetic paneling" that runs all around the lower rim of the car, as well as a revised font bumper with fog lamps and a larger lower intake.
This is said to enable the Combi Outdoor to "hold its own even beyond paved roads," but we'd take that with a few grains of whatever the Czech word for "salt" is. It is available now with any engine and drive layout in the range other than the GreenLine. Scroll down for a brief press release, and check out its angles in our gallery.