Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Reliable and economical motor makes the perfect fleet vehicle

WE all know the saying “don’t give up the day job”. It is that reality check on our aspirations to

WE all know the saying “don’t give up the day job”. It is that reality check on our aspirations to break the mould. And, of course, for most of our lifetimes we don’t give up the day job because it pays the rent. In the world of motors, the reality check for carmakers is how new models fare in fleet sales. These business sales could easily be described as any car dealer’s day job.

Now I do not often stray into this part of the market, simply because I am more interested in sales to private users. However, this week’s drive, a Skoda Octavia — a favoured fleet car — reminded me that there is this vast fleet market out there where a good sales performance is paramount to carmakers. (Incidentally, in case you are wondering, fleet vehicles are groups of motor vehicles owned or leased by a business or government agency, rather than by an individual or family.)

It is also apt that this week Alistair Stewart, Skoda’s UK boss, is reported as saying that Skoda’s growth will be focused on fleet sales for 2013, with business volume set to account for more than 30,000 cars, up from 23,524 in 2012. I am sure the Octavia will play a big part in that sales drive.

Now all this may be anathema to your average private car buyer but I think it could also prove instructive. By far the most important aspect of buying a car today is value for money.

Surely it follows that fleet managers — who are really “professional” car buyers — know a good vehicle when they see one? They presumably look for reliability, economy of use and durability — all factors that stand out in the Octavia.

According to a new report from Allianz Your CoverInsurance, your average car commuter clocks up 7,130 miles on the roads every year and does not feel too great about it either. The same report says 70 per cent of commuters are miserable about the state of the UK’s roads and congestion. Fleet car users can clock up many thousands more miles a year in the pursuit of their day job. So they have to be happy with their modes of transport.

Now because the Skoda Octavia is a long-time favourite of fleet managers and a mainstay of business fleets, it could prove also to be a shrewd buy for private car owners.

The Octavia is in its third generation. My drive this week proved that this is a car that has improved considerably as it has evolved. The new Octavia offers a number of advanced technologies normally reserved for higher-segment vehicles. Some of these new technologies are available for the first time in a Skoda.

They include: Adaptive Cruise Assistant, a system that automatically maintains a pre-set distance from the car ahead; Intelligent Light Assistant (standard on Elegance) will switch to high beam and back automatically; the Automatic Parking Assistant makes parallel and bay parking easier.

Also available for the first time (as part of the optional Columbus sat nav system) is traffic sign recognition; another first is the electric panoramic sliding/tilting panorama sunroof.

There is also another new Octavia in the starting blocks: the New Octavia Estate gets its world première at next week’s Geneva Motor Show.

Third-generation Octavia. On sale in the UK from March 16

Prices start from £15,990

Launched in three trim levels: S, SE, Elegance

GreenLine available from late 2013

Four advanced engine options: two petrol and two diesel

CO2 emissions from only 89g/km and 83mpg (combined)

Car as tested: KODA Octavia SE Connect 1.6 TDI

Price (on the road): £18,650

Performance:

Combined mpg: 62.8

CO2: 119 g/km

Max speed: 118 mph

062 mph: 11.8 secs

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