Good Oil: How cops made Skoda cool and Bentley's need for tweed
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The announcement that the New Zealand Police will move to Skoda patrol cars next year was probably neither here nor there for people under a certain age, who naturally think the Czech brand’s cars are well-designed and fast; but perhaps very noteworthy to those over a certain age, who remember when Skodas were just weird and embarrassing.
Yes, Skoda is a brand that has achieved something very difficult: it’s gone from being uncool to very cool. For that it has to thank Volkswagen Group (you probably knew that) and actually, partly the police (maybe you didn’t know that).
VW took over Skoda in 1994, quite rightly seeing it as a valuable entry point into Eastern European markets that much preferred a local badge over anything German. Part of the mission was to make Skoda vastly more modern and desirable.
But cool? That kind of happened in 2001 when Skoda launched the first Octavia vRS (leaping into the World Rally Championship in 1999 didn’t hurt either). It had a 1.8-litre turbo engine (132kW/235Nm) and quite liked corners too.
The Octavia vRS became a high-profile police motorway patrol/pursuit car, especially with the “blues and twos” road policing units in the UK. It was great publicity for the brand and provided real credibility for the flagship Octavia as a proper performance sedan and wagon.
So NZ Police are really just catching up with two decades of cops making Skodas cool.
The need for tweed
You’ve probably joked about this at some point, but now it’s actually happened: Bentley is offering a tweed trim option for the interior of its Continental GT coupe, Flying Spur sedan and Bentayga SUV.
The new option comes courtesy of Mulliner, Bentley’s bespoke division. Not surprisingly, you can’t cover the interior with it – it’s available only as door trim.
According to Mulliner: “The tactile woven wool finish to the doors transforms the energy of the cabin into a robust yet tranquil environment.”
Tweed is capable of great things.
There are actually four to choose from, all ethically and environmentally manufactured by Lovat Mill, says the company.
In fact, this is not the first time Bentley has felt the need for tweed. The Bentayga Sportsman had tweed from Savile Row tailor Huntsman on the fascia, while the Continental GT Equestrian Edition had tweed on its door inlays.
More recently, the bespoke Bacalar featured “grey tweed” interior elements. So it’s a thing, although we’re not sure it’ll catch on elsewhere in the market.