The Driven Blog “My Garage” – Vol. 1

Skoda Octavia vRS MK1

THIS IS THE first installment of “My Garage” on The Driven Blog.

Following in the footsteps of magazines and websites the world over, I have decided to start an ‘Our cars’/’Longtermers’ section called “My Garage”. Although, I have a driveway not a garage. But we’ll gloss over that.

I’m not exactly Harry Metcalfe, so I don’t have an extensive collection or new cars coming through every month, but what I do have is my trusty 2004 Skoda Octavia vRS. Also, like all petrolheads, I fantasise about what cars I could, should or will buy next. But ultimately won’t.

Skoda Octavia vRS rear

Let’s start with an introduction. I’ve had the car for about two years now and it’s one I’d wanted for some time. I like the fact that it’s a hot hatch, so it has great performance and handling, but wears a grown up suit so doesn’t have the “yobbish” image of others.

There are a few chips and scratches, but it’s a nine-year-old car so it is to be expected. Other than that, the ‘Tavia is in very good condition both in and out, perhaps a sign of VW’s influence and cash.

Skoda Octavia vRS interior mk1

It wasn’t all rosy though, just a week after taking ownership the gearbox developed a whine. A visit to my local garage confirmed my suspicions; the gearbox was knackered. Several calls to the dealer later, they agreed to take it back and fix it. The next two months went by without incident, but then the brakes began squeaking. Another trip to the garage found that the discs were warped. All four of them. So £400 later I had new discs and pads all-round, and I was finally able to enjoy the car as it was meant to be.

Further investigation into the car’s history revealed that in the 12 months before I bought it, it travelled just 300 miles. The mystery of the wonky brakes was solved.

Stone Chip windscreen

There have been a couple of other expenses between then and now; firstly was a brand new Bosch battery after the last one detariorated, culminating in me being stranded in a Sainsbury’s car park. As luck would have it, there was a Halfords across the road so I popped in, bought some jump leads and made a call to someone I know who lives nearby. Finally, there was a nasty stone chip (granted, paid for mostly by the insurance company) that was repaired quickly by Autoglass.

Despite these problems, it’s been a great two years and there’ll be plenty more to come, all of which you can keep up with here.

This month I’ve been looking at…

Mazda 6 MPS

Described by many as the “thinking man’s Impreza”, the Mazda 6 MPS packs 256bhp from a 2.3-litre turbo charged petrol engine and four-wheel-drive. It teams this with a very subtle bodykit which includes a bonnet bulge, twin-exhaust pipes, a ‘barely there’ rear spoiler and multi-spoke alloy wheels (which are actually slightly reminiscent of those on the old Sierra Cosworth Sapphire). Equipment levels are high, build quality is good and with prices for decent examples now around the £5000 mark, it makes for a fantastic budget Q-car. Of course, I probably won’t actually get around to buying one.

Next month… MOT and service time comes around, there’s an unexpectedly large bill and I’ve been looking at the “Japanese Mercedes”.

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