the turning point Skoda turns 25

WITH VOLKSWAGEN YOU CHANGE GEAR – Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic, September 1996. It is necessary to go back 25 years and enter the new spaces of the Skoda factory designed by the studio of Günther Henn, a German architect famous for his administrative building projects, to fix in space and time the moment that changed the destinies of the house forever. Bohemian. From the assembly lines, reorganized from top to bottom according to the most modern principles of just in time, the first examples of Skoda Octavia, a model whose name dusts off the one produced at the turn of the 50s and 70s but is actually completely new. Although the new sedan has not yet put its wheels on the road, the moment is historic: it is in fact the first car designed entirely under the aegis of the Volkswagen group, which signed a joint venture with Skoda in 1991 and then absorbed it as a title. final nine years later.

GAME-CHANGER – The Skoda Octavia marks the beginning of the technological era of the Czech house. The alliance with Volkswagen offers valuable synergies, starting with the supply of the PQ34 platform, shared with the German cousins ​​Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf 4. The leap in quality, favored by the adoption of many other parts – including engines, transmissions, seats and steering wheels – derived from Ingolstadt and Wolfsburg production, it’s huge. Where Skoda starts from scratch is in the definition of style. The first mandate to design the Octavia was entrusted by the then Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus to Giorgetto Giugiaro, but with the passage of the brand into the orbit of Volkswagen, the deliveries passed to the team of Dirk van Brackel, who using the CAD for the first time creates a simple, modern and elegant line, destined to last over time.

FOUR-STAR SAFETY – With the Octavia the Skoda it gives life to a new brand identity, more solid, qualitative and attractive than in the recent past. This is also due to unprecedented attention to active and passive safety, as demonstrated, for example, by the adoption of side airbags, which at the time was almost the exclusive prerogative of higher-class models. For the first time on a Skoda, side anti-intrusion bars and ABS are provided, standard on the 1.8 20V SLX and available as an option on the other models in the range. In the crash tests of the EuroNCAP the new sedan gets four stars out of five, placing itself on the same level as the best European competitors.

BOMB-PROOF ENGINES – In the first year of production the Skoda Octavia it is available with two naturally aspirated petrol engines and a turbodiesel, all three with four cylinders and all three of Volkswagen derivation. The 1.6 MPI with 75 bhp is flanked by the 1.8 with five valves per cylinder, which with 125 bhp offers much more brilliant performance. Modern and efficient, the 90 bhp 1.9 TDI (later upgraded to 110 bhp) offers vigorous torque from the lowest revs and is satisfied with very little diesel: just over five liters on average are enough to cover 100 kilometers. Over the years, the engine range has expanded with the addition of, among others, the naturally aspirated 68 bhp 1.9 SDI and 150 bhp 1.8 20V Turbo.

THE STATION OF RECORDS – Anticipated by a beautiful concept car at the 1997 Francorte show, the Skoda Octavia Combi with station wagon body sees the lights of the assembly line in February of the following year. To make the sides, formed from a single piece of deep drawn sheet metal, a record-breaking molding department is set up: the single mold, the largest ever built up to that moment by Skoda, weighs 63 tons. Six millimeters longer, 26 higher and, depending on the version, 15 to 30 kg heavier than the sedan, the Octavia Combi offers a spacious and well usable trunk, with a capacity of 548 liters, which become 1,512 when the backrest is folded down. of the rear sofa. The comfort and versatility make the Combi a very successful model, so much so that to meet customer demand, which grew in 2001 from the initial 15% to 40.5% of total production, the company built a new line of assembly at the Vrchlabí plant.

IN THE MIDDLE OF CAREER THE MAKEUP IS REMADE – In 2000 the designers took over the designs of the Skoda Octavia and refresh the look by intervening only on some details, such as the headlights, slightly enlarged, and the bumpers, a little more rounded at the bottom and equipped with wider slits. An important novelty, on the safety front, is the installation of ESP, which intervenes by reducing the torque delivered by the engine or by braking the individual wheels every time a special control unit reads a sudden loss of control of the vehicle by the driver.

DREAMING OF RALLIES – Inspired by the competition model with which the Skoda participates in the World Rally Championship, the Octavia RS made its debut in 2001 to intercept the taste of the most demanding customers in terms of performance. Equipped with the Volkswagen-derived 180 HP 1.8 20V Turbo, it sprints from 0 to 100 km / h in 7.9 seconds and reaches 235 km / h. The bodywork gains a good dose of muscle thanks to the more rounded bumpers, the side sills and the rear spoiler, while in the passenger compartment there is no lack of typical references from the racing world, such as the three-spoke sports steering wheel, the stainless steel pedals and the seats. redesigned to better contain the body of the rider and front passenger in fast driving. The career of the first modern Skoda Octavia continues with the Tour version, which remains in production even after the launch of the second generation model. From 1996 to 2010, the year of definitive retirement, a total of 1,445,563 Octavia left the gates of Mladá Boleslav and Vrchlabí, of which 973,071 with sedan bodywork and 472,492 station wagons. A great success for Skoda, which with the Octavia 25 years ago laid the foundations for a future as a protagonist in the automotive industry.

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