With only a slow puncture in the front nearside tyre to blot its clean record sheet, our Octavia is maintaining the smooth demeanour it has displayed since joining us with 10,000 miles on the clock.
It is also returning economy which continues to impress: at 55mpg, its average is good by any standards but remarkable for a car offering such a large amount of space for passengers and luggage.
As fuel costs continue to soar, frugality of this order takes on increasing significance for fleet drivers, so it is small wonder that Skoda showrooms are bucking the trend so far this year with sales up by 9.1% compared with a 4.8% dip in the market.
Like other Volkswagen Group products, the Octavia features variable servicing, which is a potential money-saver, depending on how the car is used. As ours spends most of its time on motorways, the on-board computer had still not triggered the ‘service due’ indicator by the time it reached the Robert Eardley dealership in Stoke-on-Trent at 21,000 miles for a precautionary check I’d ordered as the car was facing a long-distance run.
The bill came to £210 which included labour, VAT and new oil, as well as checking the oil and pollen filters and cleaning and checking the brakes.
With a 560-litre boot which opens up to 1,335 litres when the rear seat backrests are folded, the Skoda scores top marks for practicality.
It is also very well equipped. Standard kit includes air conditioning, fully-adjustable steering wheel, remote locking, electric windows, a CD autochanger and even a cooled glovebox, this mid-range version is not without the touches of luxury – and for an extra £50 the car can be supplied with a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Model: Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDI Ambiente
CO2 emissions (g/km): 143
Company car tax bill (2005/6): 22% tax-payer £39 a month
Insurance group: 7E
Combined mpg: 53.3
Test mpg: 55
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,475/32%
Expenditure to date:£210 (service and parts)
Typical contract hire rate: £292
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles