Skoda's hot estate goes hybrid

Skoda's hot estate goes hybrid

As seen on thisismoney.co.uk

Skoda's hot estate goes hybrid: RAY MASSEY drives the new electrified Octavia vRS iV, but would you pay almost £40,000 for a Skoda?

You really do feel like you're singing an octave higher when crooning behind the wheel of the new fourth-generation Skoda Octavia estate — designed with active and sporty families in mind. 

Ahead of this weekend's big Bank Holiday getaway, I've spent a week in the range-topping vRS iV plug-in hybrid, a handsomely imposing vehicle with a smart interior, 490 litres of flat load lugging space in the rear, plenty of pulling power for towing and money-saving motoring — providing you keep it charged. 

Also available are 2-litre petrol and diesel versions which have 150 litres more rear boot space than the hybrid, which accommodates batteries. 

It looks assertive, with a grille reminiscent of old BMWs (before this German rival started expanding it to cartoonish levels). 

Coincidence? I suspect not. 

A turbocharged 1.4-litre TSi petrol engine linked to an 85kW electric motor and six-speed automatic gearbox (with manual over-ride) develops 245hp, allowing brisk a­cceleration from rest to 62mph in 7.3 seconds up to a top speed of 139mph. 

It's very nimble for such a large car, with smooth, light steering, and is long-legged and comfortable on motorway journeys. 

If you recharge it daily or overnight, in electric-only mode it has a range of up to 38 miles. Its CO2 emissions are no higher than 36g/km thanks to plug-in charge and hybrid energy from braking and deceleration. 

The high-spec vRS iV estate starts at £36,875 and includes as standard everything from 19 in alloy wheels and privacy glass to sports suspension and red brake calipers. Extras on mine pushed it over £40,000. 

But would / should you pay £40,000 for a Skoda? Just as the style and reputation of the marque has risen under the stewardship of its owner, the Volkswagen Group, so too have the prices.

There are cheaper options, though. The range starts with models from £22,215 for the 1.0- litre three-cylinder petrol entry-level SE trim, with the equivalent hatchback saloon from £21,235. 

The car has already won a clutch of awards: it is the reigning Auto Express Car of the Year, as well as best estate and family car, and What Car? named the Octavia iV variant as best plug-in hybrid.

New cars are an average 6.3 per cent less fuel efficient than official claims with the worst more than 25 per cent adrift, according to What Car? 

The magazine used a rolling road to simulate real world driving styles and conditions, and compared the performance of 96 petrol, diesel and hybrid cars to published global benchmark light vehicle test results. 

Worst underachievers were BMW's 420d M Sport Pro, 26.4 per cent less frugal than its official test figure, followed by Suzuki Swace 1.8 Hybrid SZT (21.6 per cent), Ford Fiesta 1.0 155 petrol ST-Line X (19.9 per cent), Renault Clio 1.6 petrol hybrid 140 Iconic E-Tech (19.6 per cent), and Audi A3 Saloon 1.5 35 TFSI 150 petrol S Line (16 per cent). 

However, the Ford Ranger 2.0 diesel Thunder was one of the thriftiest that beat official figures (by 18.9 per cent).

One in 50 cars written off after a crash is being put back on the road with a 'clean' bill of health thanks to a loophole in the system, concludes an investigation by motor magazine Autocar. 

It means buyers of second-hand cars need to be extra vigilant to avoid purchasing a potential death-trap. 

The Motor Insurers Anti-Fraud and Theft Register — used by vehicle check companies and by insurers to record details of vehicles they have written off — is only voluntary, and some of the UK's 200 insurers are not signed up, says Autocar, which wants membership to be made compulsory. 

Eight in ten motorists admit they have ‘diced with death’ by taking unnecessary risks at the wheel, reveals a s­urvey of 2,000 drivers by First4Lawyers. More than half (55 per cent) said they have broken the speed limit, 21 per cent drink-drove and 5 per cent posted on social media. 

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