If ever there was one automotive brand that has re-invented itself successfully, it’s Skoda.

Once the butt of jokes like: How do you double the price of a Skoda? Fill up the tank. Why do Skodas have heated rear windscreens? To keep your hands warm while you’re pushing it. And the classic: What do you call a Skoda with a sun roof? A skip.

Now… the joke is on other car makers. Skoda is a winning formula.

In the first quarter in 2012, UK sales alone hit 14,000, following the success of 2011, when 45,000 were sold. They also received 18 major awards in 2011, and continue to do so in 2012… including topping the influential JD Power survey for the past 19 years!

Add to that, Skoda Motorsport repeated its double win in 2011 as IRC Drivers’ & Manufacturers’ Champions, with Andreas Mikkelsen bringing home the IRC Drivers’ title for Skoda UK Motorsport. You can read about that inside.

* * *

Skoda’s ‘Simply Clever’ brand message reflects a number of features that the car maker has introduced to make owners’ lives easier, such as a removable battery-powered LED flashlight for use when changing a flat tire; a luggage restraint system in the boot and a dedicated slot in the door for an umbrella.

A remote controlled boot is another feature available on the Skoda Superb Estate car, enabling passengers to open up the trunk when loaded up with heavy items.

Clever eh?

* * *

Also in this Skoda special – The new (diesel) Octavia vRS – can it live up to its older petrol sibling?

We also look at a 200mph Octavia vRS. Then we have the Superb SE Estate, which really lives up to its name. And there’s the funky, amazing Yeti 4×4 crossover and the fun-packed Fabia Monte Carlo special edition.

Oh, and our columnist, Neil Cole talks Skoda too. Enjoy! Thanks for reading!