Skoda Octavia
0-62mph 9.9 seconds
Prime pace 128mph
MPG 52.3
CO2 108g/km
Eco rating ★★★★☆

I’ve by no means been a type of individuals who combine up their lefts and rights. However immediately I’m struggling. I’m sitting on the wheel of a ravishing yellow Skoda 422. It was made in 1929 and is the sort of motor you think about you’d arrive on the opera in and step out carrying tails and a neatly waxed moustache. However the automotive was, actually, the smallest and most reasonably priced automotive to drive out of the Mladá Boleslav manufacturing facility gates. Life should have been very grand again then. It has a 1.2-litre engine that generates simply 22hp, a three-speed gearbox and a high pace of 47mph. However, and that is the place it will get complicated, its pedals are within the unsuitable order – the brake and throttle are reversed. And it’s fairly hair-raising to step on the brake and end up rushing up…

The 422 is a part of Skoda’s heritage fleet, which incorporates the whole lot from the Widespread of 1940 to a uncommon and beautiful 1100 Spider, insured for £3m. However the satisfaction of Skoda’s historic automotive assortment is its vary of Octavias. This 12 months the automotive celebrates its sixtieth anniversary. Because the first mannequin rolled on to the streets of what was then Czechoslovakia, the Octavia has change into the model’s runaway bestseller, shifting virtually 6.5m worldwide. Most are nonetheless constructed within the authentic plant in Mladá Boleslav, however there are additionally manufacturing strains in China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan and Algeria.

We Brits have had an everlasting love affair with the Octavia. Greater than 500,000 have discovered their manner into appreciative fingers on this nation. In addition to discovering fame as a rally automotive, changing into a favorite of the police and emergency providers, and performing as a loyal servant of minicab corporations the size and breadth of the nation (I all the time assume if you need reasonably priced, economical, dependable and comfy, simply take a look at what’s parked exterior your native minicab workplace), the Octavia’s highpoint got here in 2011 when an Mk2 constructed by Skoda UK set a land pace report on the Bonneville Salt Flats, USA, of 227.080mph.

The title is derived from the Latin “octavia”, that means “eighth”, because the automotive was the model’s eighth mannequin after the Second World Conflict. It was fairly primary then, however its ethos was the identical as it’s immediately – to deliver reasonably priced, high quality motoring to as many individuals as potential at an unbeatable worth. Six many years later, the vary contains 9 tools ranges, 14 engine and transmission choices and two physique types. The entry stage saloon kicks off at £18,610 rising to high-performance vRS that’s £29,380.

Most of you may be conscious that Skoda is a junior member of the huge Volkswagen household. In some ways the Octavia is a “price range Golf”. However don’t assume that you’re being short-changed. The Octavia comes with a raft of intelligent extras, comparable to adaptive lighting, panoramic sunroofs and a digital cockpit. Connectivity is as you’d anticipate from a contemporary automotive, however how a few detachable LED torch within the boot and an umbrella holder underneath the passenger seat? There’s additionally park help and pedestrian safety. Enginewise you may take your choose from a small 1.2 litre petrol (the identical measurement because the very first) up by way of a brace of 1.6 and a pair of.0-litre petrol and diesels.

It’s strong, dependable, commendable and unshowy, however nobody goes to be massively impressed you’re driving an Octavia – besides your self. And that’s who actually issues.

Electronic mail Martin at martin.love@observer.co.uk or comply with him on Twitter@MartinLove166


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