WORTHY, a teeny bit dull perhaps but an essential cog in the wheel of society. You know who they are – probably working in the public services sector, likely to be wearing a grey suit bought off the peg at Marks and Spencer and aspiring towards that overdue middle-management promotion.
Nothing wrong with that.
Perhaps they drive a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra but could really do with something bigger to accommodate their 2.1 children. Then this car could be for them.
Let’s leave the fancy stuff in the car park to Flash Harry and his pals Poser Pete and Show-off Shaun.
Picture the scene. They have been nagging you for some time for a bigger car.
Summoned to your office, still blinking from the unaccustomed daylight (they do their number-crunching in the artificially-illuminated bowels of the building), they make their case.
That’s when you play your ace: the Skoda Octavia. This is the point at which many fleet managers arrive. Will employees go for a Skoda? They should do. A largish car offering reliability, performance and running-cost economy at a bargain price (just under the £12,000 mark, in fact).
In fact, your excellent judgement might well get a mention next time he’s chatting with your boss.
And here’s the crafty bit –- they get a car that shares its lean-burning 1.6 direct-injection FSI 115bhp engine with the Audi A3, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf and offers a host of standard features.
A little under-powered perhaps. After all, it’s quite a big car with plenty of room for five adults and a spacious boot.
A family outing with a couple of larger-than-average relatives in the back and a hilly route had me on the verge of turfing one of them out to be picked up on the way back.
But that at least prompted me to experiment with fuel. At my last fill-up I tried super unleaded at a 6p-a-litre premium – despite my tight-fisted principles – and am convinced that it has perked things up under the bonnet enough to justify the extra cost (since then, I’ve found out that Volkswagen actually recommends this for the FSI engine).
It will be interesting to see the effect on fuel consumption. Previously, it had been nudging the claimed 40.4mpg at 39.5mpg – unusually, as we long-term testers normally struggle to reach the manufacturer’s figure. I’m hopeful I can better that to offset some of the cost of the high-octane fuel.
Price: £11,990 (as tested £12,305 ex-VAT)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 168
Company car tax bill (2006) 22% tax-payer: £43 per month
Combined mpg: 40.4
Test mpg: 39.5
CAP Monitor RV: £3,800/32%
Contract hire rate £263
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles