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Octavia Elegance 2.0TDi
Oct 2005-present

Company cars are great... They can be driven on the limiter when cold, eat tyres on a frequent basis and with a fuel card they can be refuelled at the most convenient, expensive petrol stations as often as you like! For the 3 and a bit years that I had the Golf I really wasn't fussed about the cost of fuel - in fact the more I drove it the cheaper it worked out per mile!

However all great things must come to an end, and I was pretty sure that I would be leaving the company car scheme and buying my own car when the lease ran out. The only problem was, I didn't have a clue what car I wanted. As I now had the 7 I only really need a commuting car rather than a fun car and buying my own car also meant paying for my own fuel for the first time in over 6 years, hence diesel power would be on my list. I'd driven the diesel Golf Mk5 and was impressed - though I did have a habit of blipping the throttle at the lights and pretending to be a Transit van... The 1.6 Golf FSi I'd been given as a courtesy car on the other hand was not so good, so I knew that I still wanted a car that could get to 60 in under 10 seconds.

I test drove a bizarre mixture of cars. The Mazda RX-8 was the most fun, but I struggled to get 20mpg and I really only drove it as a fun car rather than a serious choice. I did the dutiful thing and tried the latest top of the range Focus - nope, still didn't like it. I'd been given a Vectra at one point, and that put me off Vauxhalls for a bit. Mad thoughts of buying a cheap, secondhand BMW went through my head, along with a new Mazda 3, the new Seat Ibiza (nice car, but felt too small on the motorway), Seat Leon and then the Skoda Octavia.

One of my mates had replaced his Golf GTi with an Octavia vRS a year or so previously. I'd not thought much of it, until he gave me a lift home and was quietly impressed. It was basically a Golf with different dashboard lighting, a cheaper price tag and a huge boot. I spent some time going through the brochure for the next generation Octavia and realised that I could get a diesel car with a sub 10 second 0-60, cruise, climate control and all the other toys that I still wanted (even if I tried to pretend that I could live without them) for a reasonable price - and it would be cheaper to run than my previous car. The only thing that bothered me when test driving it was the fact that the seat squab was longer than I was used to, and appeared to catch the back of my knee when changing gear.

After some useful bargaining with the salesman I ended up with a good price and the toys I wanted (well, it was their fault that the demo car had xenon lights!) I went for a silver car as I wanted something that would blend into the background more than the Tart Red Golf, and have a decent resale value.

So, I can now be seen driving for economy most of the time in a far more anonymous car - and the 7 feels even more special when I take it out!