Škoda Wins Once Again

There can be little doubt that SUV’s are becoming increasingly popular on European roads with a host of new models coming on to the market.

Last year, Škoda launched the first of a new generation of SUV called the Kodiaq. This has been admired by motoring journalists for its space, practicality, value and no-nonsense approach to motoring. It is the second SUV in the Škoda model line-up, as the manufacturer has been producing the Yeti for over eight years. The Yeti has stood out from competitors for its rather quirky, rugged, Tonka-toy looks, but offering more space and perceived value than rivals. However, after a facelift four years ago, the model is being replaced in late 2017 and will no longer bear the Yeti name. Queue the Karoq …

This new model aligns itself with its larger sibling, the Kodiaq, and signals the latest design approach by Škoda. The SUV will be both longer and wider than the vehicle it replaces, and also have a more conventional appearance that may disappoint some diehard Yeti fans. Its length is increased by 160mm to 4382mm and its width by 48mm. To give the vehicle a rugged look, lower bumpers and side panels are clad in black plastic. This will, of course, help protect body panels should one decide to take the vehicle off-road! Mechanically, the vehicle will feature current TSi petrol and TDi diesel engines from the current VW Group stable and some models will offer the option of 4-wheel drive. According to the motoring press, the Karoq appears to suffer from less body roll than the Yeti and is surefooted with responsive steering, and benefits from a 58mm longer wheelbase.

Interior accommodation is first class as has come to be expected from the latest range of Škoda models. There will be the usual ‘Simply Clever’ features including practical door bins and other useful storage places. Rear head and legroom are not compromised despite the sloping roof line, and as an option, buyers can specify a VarioFlex rear seating arrangement whereby all three rear seats are separate. These can be configured individually and the middle seat removed completely to enable the outer seats to slide inwards by 150mm to increase shoulder room. Boot capacity with a standard rear seat configuration is an impressive 521 litres, increasing to 1630 litres with the 60:40 seats folded. With the VarioFlex system, basic space ranges from 479 to 588 litres, with a total 1810 litres with all the rear seats removed.

A 9.2 inch high resolution touchscreen infotainment system dominates the dashboard and comes with gesture control meaning that one can navigate menus with a wave of the hand. A 12.3 inch full digital instrument display will be offered which is similar to those available on some VW and Audi models, but will be customised for the Škoda brand. Of course, this display won’t be a standard offering, but one of many fairly costly options. Besides the current 1.6 and 2.0 TDi diesel engines in different power outputs, the Karoq will be offered with the relatively new 113PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder or a completely new 148PS 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, which has just launched in the facelifted VW Golf. This 1.5-litre petrol engine is equipped with Active Cylinder Technology that shuts down two of the four cylinders at low speed and aids overall fuel consumption.

The Karoq will offer excellent passenger and luggage space with a simple, clean interior layout that will appeal to many buyers. Whilst it has to exceed the expectations of the Yeti within a more mainstream package, it has the pedigree to do so given advances in technology, design and practicality. Prices are still to be confirmed but it’s unlikely that Škoda will want to deviate far from the Yeti’s current starting price of £17700 (€20200). This model has every chance of becoming a best-seller at the expense of competitors’ offerings.

Finally, some readers may be asking the question: where have I seen the Karoq before? Technically, you haven’t although it does share the same platform and many body panels with its sister car, the highly-acclaimed SEAT Ateca, as shown above. In a time of rising development costs and the necessity to adopt economies of scale, it was to be expected that certain models would bear close resemblance to each other. However, each model has sufficient design and styling tweaks to differentiate them as well as completely different interiors meaning there is still real choice for the consumer. Just as Škoda is sharing the SEAT Ateca body, the same will apply when SEAT introduces a larger SUV akin to the Kodiaq!

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What A Mess

The recent General Election in the UK has created an even bigger political mess …

The unadulterated arrogance and pigheadedness of Prime Minister Theresa May was the sole reason for her calling an election as she wanted to increase her parliamentary majority in order to achieve her ambitions regarding the UK withdrawal from the European Union.

Unfortunately for Mrs May, things did not go according to plan. There was a major upsurge in the younger vote, the vast majority supporting the opposition Labour Party, with the end result being a hung parliament. Rather than increase her majority, Mrs May lost seats and is now clinging on to power by her fingertips. Whilst her party holds the greatest number of parliamentary seats, the number is critically low meaning that key policies could be voted down if members of her own party rebel. In order to try and alleviate this, the Prime Minister is trying to negotiate a pact with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, but even if this debatable unconstitutional alliance goes ahead, her government could still face defeat on key measures.

Many aspects of the Conservative Party election manifesto have been abandoned. Whilst most of these were highly controversial, it illustrates that the government has already made major U-turns on policy and, therefore, cannot be trusted. The main focus of the government will now be on Brexit, the name given to the country’s withdrawal from the EU. Even within her own ranks, Mrs May is facing opposition to her dictatorial policies and rumours abound that there could be another leadership contest before too long. Sadly, most potential candidates would likely be even worse than the current incumbent, but inevitably any change will rock the party and almost certainly lead to yet another general election way prior to the projected end of this government in 2022.

It is extremely ironic that throughout the election campaign, Mrs May promised the electorate a ‘strong and stable’ government. In fact, she quoted the phrase so many times that she appeared more like an automaton than a human being. Needless to say, the government is anything but strong or stable, and more closely resembles a weak and wobbly administration drifting in an ocean without rudders. Whilst Brexit talks have only just begun with the EU Parliament, it’s too early to project what the final outcome will be, although it’s difficult to imagine that Mrs May will get all her own way.

There are interesting, albeit worrying, times ahead, both for people living within the United Kingdom and its citizens living in other EU member staes.

D-Day Approaches

In just one week’s time, the people of the United Kingdom will be voting for a new government for the second time in two years.

Despite Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly stating that there would be no snap general election prior to 2020, she made one of many dramatic U-turns by announcing such an event in late April 2017. The apparent reasoning behind this decision is that she wants a clear mandate to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. As most people have long realised, the voting decision to leave the EU was based on countless lies and ongoing deceit, and following the disastrous referendum result, many people now realise that they were duped into voting against continued membership.

Sadly, in the year since the referendum, lies have continued to manifest themselves at an alarming rate. Whilst it is almost unanimously regarded that politicians, by definition, are liars, the country has been governed by a dictator in the making who is simply on a power trip. The Prime Minister’s reactions to questions put to her are bouts of inane laughter, grimaces or platitudinous responses and her constant message of a ‘strong and stable’ government has become farcical. Her overall demeanour suggests she lacks any self awareness or in-depth knowledge of what being a PM demands. Just look at her recent political track record.

Despite May’s claim that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ she was a committed supporter of staying in the EU but quickly jumped ships in favour of Brexit in order to curry favour in her fight to become leader of the Conservative party and, therefore, Prime Minister. She determinedly refuses to listen to the advice of experts and on a one-person crusade, has decided that Britain will exit both the single trading market and customs union. Financial experts have continually highlighted the catastrophic consequences of such action and the possible long-term effects on the union of the United Kingdom. She has total inadequates holding ministerial positions in the areas that will basically determine the effects of Brexit and anyone doubting her beliefs is cast aside and relegated to the back benches. 

Civil servants are living in fear of their jobs should they dare to point out the error of her decisions and the democracy of Parliament has been brought into doubt, especially when the House of Lords overturned a key proposal relating to Brexit. Nearly a year after the referendum, the electorate are no nearer understanding the implications of the decision but she doesn’t see this is a problem. Most people have little understanding of the main issues, no clarity on what the UK is aiming to achieve in the negotiations, and no reassurance for beleaguered businesses. The announcement of what is a totally unnecessary election simply demonstrates her complete insecurity and, if recent polls are to be believed, could be her undoing. Her campaign has been all about her and what she wants for the country, with few other party members making even scant appearances. She has vetoed a party leaders’ debate on television, sending the equally obnoxious Amber Rudd in her place, on the grounds that she wants to meet the electorate at grass roots level. This has turned out to be farcical as most media events have been attended by a mere handful of carefully selected people, and on occasions, press have been excluded from attending.

As with all the political parties, the launch of their election manifesto only happens about two weeks prior to voting day. Inevitably, this means that most suggested policies will go unnoticed until it’s far too late to question them. However, May has already announced her desire to reinstate the hunting of foxes by hounds which is generally against the wishes of her supporters and has had to climb down on a so-called dementia tax. The woman is simply on an ego trip, lacking personality, charisma, diplomacy and knowledge, and has reached a nadir whereby she is launching personal attacks on her main opponent based upon hearsay from decades ago.

At the start of the electoral campaign, the extremely arrogant May was riding high with expectations of a greatly increased majority. Her relationship with our European partners and neighbours is at an all-time low with leaders embarrassed and annoyed by her stance, attitude and ignorance. Recent polls are suggesting that her popularity is now on the wane and that projected increased majority may dwindle to a few seats, or even better, become extinct. In just over a week’s time, the UK could be facing political turmoil once again, but in my opinion, anything is better than another 5 years under a dictator. Given her total ineptitude to answer questions without cackling first, and her strength and stability now resembling weakness and wobbly, it’s hardly surprising that May has become one of the most ridiculed PMs in many decades. It will be interesting to see how her constituents vote seeing as they were very much in favour of remaining in Europe, and May has always said that she listens to her electorate!