Saturday 1 October 2016

What we'll buy next; Skoda benchmark; more electric Mercs; top vans; more gears

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Skoda's new SUV seven-seater Kodiaq
Skoda's new SUV seven-seater Kodiaq

I love benchmarks, so forgive me if I mention that the Skoda Octavia was 20 years on the go last week.

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On September 3, 1996 former Czech president Vaclav Havel gave the 'starting signal' for the production of the car. It is an amazing story of one model turning the fortunes of a brand from being the butt of jokes to a major player in the family-car sector.

And what changes we have seen in two decades in our cars. It was appropriate, I suppose, that the unveiling of the company's new SUV seven-seater Kodiaq (pictured) should coincide with Octavia's 20th birthday. Another benchmark?

* According to a new survey, more drivers would

opt for a petrol car (48pc) than a diesel (21pc). It also found that 16pc would buy a hybrid, LPG or electric car.

The research was commissioned by Gocompare.com Car Insurance. While it is based on replies from 2,000 UK drivers, there does seem to be a theme emerging. Are people slowly turning away from diesel?

Are they beginning to look towards hybrids and electrics?

It is early days and people often say what they would 'like' to do which can be a lot different from what they will do when practicalities are taken into account.

But there does appear to be a little shift. What will your car be? Petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric?

* Honda will provide four wheels for a two-wheel event soon. They will supply Jazz and CR-V as support cars for the five days of the imminent An Post Rás Na mBan women's cycling event.

* It's hard to believe the Late Late Show is back with us. Renault here has renewed its sponsorship of the popular show for another two years. You can understand why when you see the figures: an average of 571,200 viewers. I was among the audience last season and it was a real eye-opener to see how it all comes together.

* Five brands/models have been shortlisted for the International Van of the Year 2017 (IVOTY). Three are completely new: the Hyundai H350, Volkswagen Crafter and co-shared PSA Peugeot Expert/Citroen Dispatch (Jumpy) and Toyota PROACE; as well as the latest Euro 6 versions of the Ford Transit Custom and Iveco Daily.

* Not a week passes without some big marque planning even more electric cars. Mercedes seem to get their fair share of the headlines. Now we're told they intend to roll out at least six - possibly as many as nine - electrics as they vie for future customers with Tesla, BMW and Audi.

* KIA has just revealed details of its new 8spd automatic transmission (8AT) for front-wheel drive. It's the same size as an ordinary 6spd auto but weighs 3.5kg less. I'm all for more gears as they usually mean lower fuel consumption. The only problem is exploiting top gears in the heavy traffic that now dogs so many highways.

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