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Skoda new kid on the block

It has taken Skoda a little over 100 years to populate 90 countries around the world, so its arrival here was inevitable. Even if presence fills up an already maxed out marketplace that has, in the last decade, been well propagated by satellite sisters Audi and Volkswagen.

But it’s here, and at its reveal proved its individuality as well as its relevance.

Though relevance pertains to a niche market when we speak of the Roomster mini-MPV.

Sitting somewhere between small and medium in size, the angular Roomster converts from a two-seater to a seven-seater; depending on its flexible seating configuration.

Like the VW Caddy Life, it will fit into the still-small segment of alternative MPVs and SUVs, and into budgets with a sub-$30K price tag and smaller fuel bill from its 1.6-litre petrol and 1.9-litre diesel engines.

Borne of the Roomster is the Yeti SUV concept, which takes the Roomster to new heights (cough) with a raised ride and aggressive stance to take on the dusty suburban streets.

Yeti is not intended as a Rav4 competitor, but more one for the Suzuki SX4 and Jimny. And it looks production ready, Europe will apparently see it by the second half of next year.

But front and centre in Sedans (and wagons) is the Octavia. This mid-sized sedan makes up more than half of Skoda’s worldwide sales, partly due to the superseded generation remaining on sale in Europe next to the Series II.

The latter is what we get from Skoda, and it is fantastically well-equipped for the money.

The petrol engines are all FSI direct injection, and Skoda has sneakily raided the Audi warehouse and stolen the not-even-here-yet A4’s new 118kW/ 250Nm TFSI turbo four-cylinder.

This is currently available with a six-speed manual only, so Skoda also offers a 110kW/200Nm naturally-aspirated FSI Elegance with a standard six-speed auto.

A 77kW/250Nm 1.9L TDI Ambiente diesel starts as the base model, while a 2.0-litre TDI developing 103kW/320Nm in a higher-spec ‘Elegance’ trim is near the top of the range.

That honour goes to a sport RS version. Both sedan and wagon bodies get the wonderful 147kW/280Nm drivetrain from the Golf GTI and Audi TT.

A six-speed manual is standard; as is sports suspension, 18-inch alloys with 225/40 rubber, a sharpened electro-mechanical steering rack, and Elegance trim with unique butt-hugging sports seats and instrumentation. And a space saver spare compared to the full size on the rest of the range.

But Octavia boasts a horde of active and passive safety systems. Stability control and traction control, ABS and emergency braking (EBC), as well as front, side and head airbags are standard on every model, making the new manufacturer a very safe bet.


See this car at the Australian International Motor Show