It’s amazing what a difference a day can make. There I was, driving out of Kidderminster one evening when the Skodaís stop/start system threw a strop. Having to go to Kidderminster is enough to put anyone in a bad mood, but when your car starts to play tricks on you it doesnít help.
As I drove up to the traffic lights they turned red, so I stopped, applied the handbrake and knocked the car out of gear, taking my foot off the clutch. Just as Iíve done thousands of times before. Usually, as the clutch pedal is pressed, the engine fires up ready for the off. Not this time. Instead I got a warning on the dash that I had to start the engine manually. That meant turning the key to fully off and restarting, by which time the lights had gone back to red. In a bid to keep you from escaping, they donít give you long to get going at the lights in Kidderminster. I didnít do anything different from usual, such as stall the engine or open the door, so I donít know what happened, but it hadnít done it before and it hasnít done it again since.
The next night I had to drive out of London, and this time there were rather more sets of traffic lights to negotiate. The stop/start system behaved itself, but where the Skoda wriggled its way back into my good books was with the journey back up the M40. It was the early hours of the morning, Paul Gambaccini was counting down the hits of 1976 and all was well with the world once more. The Skodaís multi-media system sounds excellent, with plenty of power, bass and stereo separation. The DAB radio also doesnít suffer from the intermittent cutting out that many systems in other cars do, and with the cruise control engaged, I sped up the motorway, despatching the miles with ease. There are plenty of other cars that would have done the same, and if Iím honest, Iíd have been just as happy to do the journey in something with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. While anything to this specification would invariably cost more than this top-value Rapid Spaceback, it would offer more muscle and probably better fuel consumption too.
The Spaceback is still delivering just under 50mpg, which continues to disappoint. But at least the oil hasnít needed to be topped up yet, despite having almost 13,000 miles on the clock. VW Group engines are renowned for using oil, but this one doesnít. However, the dash has just flashed up a message announcing that the first service is due in 1,000 miles, so for the first time ever Iím set to experience Skoda main dealer customer service, which should be a delight if all the rumours are true. All will be revealed in the next issue.
Date arrived 18th July 2016
Fuel economy 78.5mpg (combined) 49.7mpg (on test)
The boot size compares favourably with most of the Skoda’s rivals.
There are just two headrests in the back, but three seatbelts. So whoever sits in the middle has no neck support in a crash, which is quite poor.