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Skoda previews sleek new Fabia hatch

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Euro, Paris Motor Show, Hatchbacks, Skoda

2015 Skoda Fabia

The Škoda Fabia has been on the world market for seven years now, which means it's about time for replacement. And that's just what Škoda has in store.

The Czech hatch is based on the Volkswagen Polo, but offers a bit more space for a bit less money than its German counterpart, making it a compelling proposition for European buyers. For the next generation, the Fabia will grow a little wider, sit a little lower and look a bit more determined.

Previewed in the rendering above, the upcoming third-generation Fabia draws inspiration from two sources. On one hand is the VisionC concept car, a sleek five-door "coupe" unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. One the other is the Fabia rally car that has dominated the European Rally Championship and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, setting the stage for the VW Polo R WRC that's currently in the lead to defend its World Rally Championship title.

The new Škoda Fabia looks sleek and taut, which only serves to underline what a shame it is that we won't get it Stateside. Expect the new hatchback to make its debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in October.

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Skoda releases rugged new Octavia Scout soft-roader [w/video]

07/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Wagons/Estates, Euro, Skoda, Off-Road

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout

Automakers may be paying a lot of attention these days to making their crossovers and SUVs drive more like cars, but at the same time, they're also making cars that feel more like SUVs. We're talking about models like the Subaru Outback, Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70. These soft-road (if not quite off-road) wagons have a particularly keen following overseas, and that point is not lost on Volkswagen. In fact the German auto giant has soft-road models under each of its mainstream brands: Volkswagen calls it Alltrack, Audi has Allroad, Seat recently introduced the X-Perience version of its Leon wagon and Škoda offers higher-riding, more rugged versions of its wagons which it calls Scout. And here is the latest one.

The new Škoda Octavia Scout is based on the same MQB platform that underpins the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon. Starting with the Octavia Combi wagon, the Scout adds a Haldex-5 all-wheel drive system with an locking electronic differential and more rugged lower body cladding including a new front bumper with metallic insert, fog lights, black lower door panels and wheel arches. It rides on 17-inch alloys mounted on a suspension jacked up an extra inch, and the interior has been redone to match the more rugged outwards appearance.

Although the Octavia Scout, like the rest of the Škoda range, will not be sold in North America, around 8 percent of Octavia wagon buyers overseas opt for the Scout version - totaling around 53,600 units sold between its introduction in 2007 and the end of 2013. With the new model, customers will be able to choose between three engines, including a 1.8-liter turbo four with 180 horsepower or a 2.0-liter TDI with either 135 or 184 hp. Scope out the full details in the press release and the b-roll footage below.

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Skoda testing Octavia RS280 sleeper wagon

07/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Euro, Skoda

2015 Skoda Octavia RS280

American buyers in the market for a hot hatch from the Volkswagen Group can choose between the GTI or the Golf R, but our compatriots overseas have more options at their disposal, all based on the same platform. They can go for more Latin flavor in the Seat Leon Cupra (available in two states of tune) or for the more low-key Škoda Octavia RS. But soon, it seems, they'll have another choice on their hands in the form of an even more potent Octavia.

Spied undergoing testing in Europe with minimal camouflage, this hotter version of the Octavia RS wagon is tipped to be packing the more potent 2.0-liter turbo four with 276 horsepower (280 by the metric system) from the Seat Leon Cupra 280 that topped the Nürburgring leaderboards for front-drivers before Renault knocked it off its perch. That'd make it significantly more powerful than the existing Octavia RS into which Škoda packs the same engine with 217 hp (or alternatively the diesel version with 181 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque) - skipping the intermediate steps in a similar approach to that which Jaguar took to make the XFR-S Sportbrake.

To go with the extra power, the hot Czech wagon appears to be riding on a beefed-up suspension with the wheels from the Audi TT RS, along with more aggressive aero and quad exhaust tips, not to mention a sinister matte black treatment with blacked-out brightwork. Expected to debut sometime next year, the Octavia RS280 (or RS+) would offer an even more compelling sleeper package that we only wish we could get our hands on Stateside.

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Skoda interns chop down CitiJet concept for Worthersee

05/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Convertibles, Economy, Sports/GTs, Euro, Misc. Auto Shows, Skoda

Skoda CitiJet concept

Škoda doesn't sell nearly as many of its Citigo city cars as it does the Octavia, Rapid, Fabia, Yeti or Superb. In fact the Citigo is its second slowest seller, ahead only of the Roomster cargo van. That could be because it only sells the Citigo in Europe, or because, while its other models are more distinct from their corporate cousins, the Citigo is barely indiscernible from the Volkswagen Up! or Seat Mii (save for the badge on the nose). That hasn't stopped the Czech automaker, however, from moving 100,000 of them, or from its apprentices from transforming the Citigo into the more exciting concept car you see here.

Built just in time for the GTI festival at Wörthersee, Austria, the CitiJet concept is the product of six months of work undertaken by a team of sixteen interns. They took the compact city car, chopped off the roof and gave it a blue and white paintjob similar to the offset, two-tone, racing-striped liveries we've seen on other Škoda concepts in recent years. The 16-inch alloys contrast with the side of the car they're placed on, there's an F40-style rear wing at the back, a pair of asymetrical roll hoops and dual exhaust tips - a pipe and a half for each of the three cylinders in the 1.0-liter engine that's been upgraded from 60 horsepower to 75. The open cockpit has been done up in red, black and white, with a 300-watt sound system and music-reactive LED lighting.

Of course at the end of the day, it's still just a Citigo - a model that makes a Polo (let alone a Golf) seem like a giant. But it takes its place alongside the Buggy Up! among the cooler concepts that the Volkswagen Group has built atop its smallest platform.

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Skoda rallies to the cause with Yeti Xtreme concept

05/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Sports/GTs, SUVs, Euro, Crossovers/CUVs, Misc. Auto Shows, Skoda, Off-Road

Skoda Yeti Xtreme

Volkswagen rejoined the World Rally Championship last year and immediately took both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles, and is already on track to do the same this year. But before the VW brand itself got back into rallying, that role belonged to its Czech subsidiary. Škoda won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2010, 2011 and 2012, when it also won the European Rally Championship, as well.

In short, Škoda has some rally chops of its own, and it's into that track record that it is tapping with the Yeti Xtreme concept. Set to be unveiled in a few days time at the GTI festival in Wörthersee, Austria, the concept is based, as you might have guessed, on the existing Yeti crossover - an altogether solid vehicle that the VW Group unfortunately doesn't export to North America - but gets an added dose of rally attitude.

It's upgraded with more muscular bumpers front and rear, sportier door sills, dual exhaust pipes, an adjustable suspension, 17-inch alloys wearing off-road rubber, tinted roof and windows, and a matte grey paintjob with neon yellow accents. Inside, the Yeti Xtreme gets four Recaro racing buckets with four-point harnesses, sports steering wheel with shift paddles, carbon-fiber and aluminum trim, Alcantara upholstery and aluminum pedals. There's an iPad cradle in the dashboard, a first aid kit in the glovebox and a thermos and sand shovel in the door panels.

Unfortunately, the engine doesn't quite live up to the exterior promise, packing the same 1.8-liter turbo four as the stock Yeti with just 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque driving through a six-speed DSG. Škoda quotes a 0-62 time of 9 seconds and a top speed of 119 - which actually seems slower than the stock model. At least Škoda has given the Yeti Xtreme the upgraded brakes from the Octavia vRS...

Feel free to read more in the press release below.

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Skoda headed to Worthersee with CitiJet roadster concept

04/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Euro, Misc. Auto Shows, Skoda

Skoda CitiJet

Every year, fans of Volkswagen Group performance cars gather at a lake in Austria to celebrate the GTI Treffen. But what started as a fan-fest for VW hot hatches has long since expanded to include other brands under the company's sprawling umbrella, and Škoda never misses out.

In 2012, for example, the Czech automaker rolled in to Wörthersee with a concept rally car based on the tiny Citigo (itself a rebadged VW Up!). The year before it did up a roadster based on the Fabia S2000. This year, however, it's planning the bring the two together with the CitiJet concept.

Based once again on the Citigo, the CitiJet is the work of sixteen young apprentices working for Škoda. What they've put together is a tiny roadster with a 1.0-liter engine driving just 75 horsepower to the front set of 16-inch alloys. Inside the open cockpit are two seats, a red leather-trimmed three-spoke steering wheel, blue LED lighting and a 300-watt sound system.

The whole thing is finished off in a two-tone blue and white color scheme offset by racing stripes in what looks like a similar approach to the red and grey on the Rapid Sport concept from Frankfurt last year. Unfortunately we've only got a rendering and a work-in-progress build photo to go on at the moment, but Škoda is sure to drop the full monte sometime between now and its live debut at Wörthersee late next month.

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Skoda VisionC concept makes us want to cash this foreign Czech [w/video]

03/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Sedans/Saloons, Geneva Motor Show, Videos, Skoda

Skoda VisionC concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, front three-quarter view

Of all the brands under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, Škoda is not the one we'd most associate with cutting-edge design. Its hatchbacks and sedans tend to be styled rather conservatively to cater to tastes that would be turned off by the flash of a Seat or even a VW. But that changes here and now at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show with the reveal of the VisionC.

Looking like a Czech take on an Audi A7, the VisionC concept rides on the same MQB platform as the Octavia, the Golf, the Leon and the A3. But where those vehicles all adopt rather conventional forms (or rooflines, anyway), the VisionC cuts a more dashing profile, rendered in the same shade of Metallic Kermit you might see on a Škoda rally car.

Despite the rakish good looks, punctuated by hyper-modern angular lighting, the VisionC packs a 1.4-liter turbo four with only 109 horsepower to offer, but offers flex-fuel capabilities to burn either gasoline or compressed natural gas. In other words, it's green in more ways than one, and if this foreshadows the future of Škoda design, you just might find us standing on the shore gazing longingly across the Atlantic and hoping for its arrival.

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Skoda classes up the Octavia with Laurin & Klement edition

03/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Wagons/Estates, Geneva Motor Show, Euro, Skoda, Luxury

Skoda Octavia Combi 4x4 Laurin & Klement Edition at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, front three-quarter view

Škoda is, by our estimation, to Volkswagen what Mercury was to Ford, Oldsmobile was to General Motors or Lancia was (and technically still is) to Fiat: not quite a luxury brand, but appealing to conservative tastes just the same. (Only where those brands have all faltered, VW still seems to be making a go of Škoda.)

To offer a bit more luxury - if not to quite take it up to Audi levels - Škoda offers the Laurin & Klement editions. Named for Škoda's founders, the L&K editions add a touch of elegance to otherwise ordinary Škoda. We've seen it offered on models like the Yeti and Superb, but now the Czech automaker has rolled it out on the Jetta-sized Octavia here in Geneva.

Available to European buyers on both the Octavia sedan and the Octavia Combi wagon pictured here, the L&K edition upgrades with such special touches as 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon headlamps with LED auxiliary lighting, and an interior done up in brown leather and Alcantara. Motivation comes from a variety of powertrain configurations including manuals and DSGs, diesels and petrols, front-drive or all-wheel drive, giving those overseas buyers with a penchant for luxury but not for flash a range of choices.

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Official: Skoda takes page from Audi's playbook with VisionC concept

02/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Sedans/Saloons, Geneva Motor Show, Euro, Hatchbacks, Skoda

Skoda VisionC

Škoda is not a brand we'd associate with excitement. Sure, it has thrown its hat in the performance ring with its vRS models, but even that's been whittled down to just the Octavia vRS, and the Octavia, while competent, is hardly something worth getting excited over. But the Czech automaker is hoping to drum up some excitement at the Geneva Motor Show this year with the concept you see here.

Called the VisionC, it's a conceptual five-door coupe bearing a strikingly similar form to the Audi A7 (or even the A5 Sportback), albeit with a Škoda badge in the nose. That form in and of itself is quite a departure for a brand that's known for producing more practical vehicles. It's based on VW's MQB architecture, and is motivated by a flex-fuel 1.4-liter turbo four with just 109 horsepower on tap, but can run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas.

Apparently intended to show the way forward for Škoda design more than signaling a specific future model, the chances of the VisionC being put into production may be rather slim. But if this is a sign of things to come from VW's Eastern European subsidiary, we just might have to add Škoda to our list of foreign brands we wish we could get our hands on.

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Official: World Car finalists announced

02/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: New York Auto Show, Geneva Motor Show, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Infiniti, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Peugeot, Citroen, Skoda

2013 World Car Awards

The 2014 World Car of the Year Awards are set to be handed out at the upcoming New York International Auto Show, meaning now is about the time we can start talking about finalists. The official list has been published and we'll admit, there are some surprising entries here.

Selected by 69 jurors from around the world, the list includes some obvious entries - the new Audi A3, Cadillac CTS and Ford Fusion/Mondeo, along with some other, unexpected cars. The polarizing Jeep Cherokee and Lexus IS both made the cut.

We have the entire list of potential winners available in the official WCOTY press release, and we've assembled a gallery of the finalists at the top of the page. You can also scroll down to see the finalists for the luxury, performance, green and design awards. Three finalists will be announced from each group at the Geneva Motor Show, before the winners are announced in the Big Apple.

The 2013 World Car of the Year (shown above) was handed to the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. Scroll down for the official press release, and then be sure to head to Comments and let us know what you agree and disagree with.

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