THE name Laurin and Klement might sound like a Paris couturier, but it was a company founded in the Bohemian town of Mladá Boleslav, in the late 19th century, that made bicycles and motorbikes, and cars after 1905.
Named after its founders, Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement, the Czech company morphed into Skoda Auto, which would be taken over by Volkswagen in the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain, in 1989, and be transformed into an ultra-modern, uber-successful car-maker.
Skoda Auto recently honoured these pioneers by naming exclusive versions of their Octavia and Superb models after them, and thus I have tested the Lauren and Klement version of the massively successful Octavia.
The L&K ‘premium flagship’ version of the Octavia, as Skoda brands it, adds a bunch more kit to the existing Active, Ambition and Elegance versions, and over and above the Elegance model: this includes new, 18-inch turbine alloy wheels, Bi-xenon headlights with LEDs, along with interior touches such as brown alcantara and leather upholstery, and electrically heated and adjustable driver and front passenger seats.
There is also a 10-speaker Canton sound system, Bluetooth with voice control, telescopic front headlight washers, and cornering front fog lights.
So, what you have is a seriously dickied-up Octavia that adds touches of luxury to what was already a serious contender. Unfortunately for Skoda, while having access to the VW parts bin is a major boon, the bosses in Germany will only allow their Czech subsidiary to push the boundaries so far, to ensure their cars do not directly match competing VW models.
So, even though the Octavia is based on the same platform as the VW Golf, it does not ride or handle with the same aplomb as its stablemate. It is still a perfectly capable and worthy companion on the road, but a keen driver will quickly notice that its driving characteristics are decent, but not top drawer.
That said, there is much to laud in this version of the Octavia and its best aspect is the engine, which is the two-litre turbo-diesel allied to a six-speed DSG gearbox. In this configuration you get an output of 150bhp, a top speed of 215kph, a 0-100kph time of 8.6 seconds, a consumption rate of 4.5 l/100 km (63mpg) and emission levels of 199 g/km, which put it in tax band A4, with annual road tax of €200. All very good, I think you’ll agree.
Many of Skoda’s products offer a ‘more-for-less’ proposition, but it is disappointing that the company has not been allowed to maximise its advantages in this regard.Although it is based on the Golf platform, the Octavia has traditionally been more of a challenger for the VW Passat, because of its size, which has been a deciding factor for its many owners worldwide.
The introduction of this L&K model has allowed Skoda to eke out more market share — sometimes, perhaps, at the expense of the Passat — but with a new version of the VW family saloon on the way, you can be sure that whatever ground it has made up will soon be taken back by the Wolfsburg car.
Even so,the Octavia Skoda is a car of enormous practicality and that is why so many families, and the agricultural and taxi sectors, have made it their car of choice. The L&K version simply adds a bit more class to proceedings.
From €31,995 (€34,510 as tested)
A familiar — and excellent — two litre turbodiesel from the VW parts bin
Loads of added kit on top of the range’s other models
The Overall Verdict:
The L&K appellation adds a very distinct whiff of class to the Octavia
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