Black Line: move over Audi and Porsche, Skoda got there first

Both Audi and Porsche have well-established Black Line editions of their cars.

Used either to boost value in key market sectors or maintain sales of ageing models, the Black Line cars chime with buyers, in a way a Yellow Line or White Line (um…) would not.

(Maybe Red Line is one for Honda? Anyhoo.)

These two premium brands weren’t the first in the Volkswagen Group to introduce them, though. Value brand Skoda was.

It was 20 years ago that the first Skoda Favorit 1.3i Blackline GLXi cars made their way to UK shores. It was sold alongside a fellow Silverline sibling and came to, yes, lift sales prior to the launch of the fully-VWised Skoda Felicia the following year.

… painted all-black… not something Audi reckons is obligatory

Blackline brought plenty of kit. A rev counter, digital clock, pop-up sunroof, intermittent wipers and tinted glass were all standard. Hold your horses, there was more: leather steering wheel, Blaupunkt four-speaker stereo, central locking, Hella clear rear lights and a Hella headlight washer system.

It even had 13-inch Ronal alloys, and was painted all-black – as the name suggests, of course, and something Porsche follows to the letter too. But not something Audi reckons is obligatory – you can get a Black Line car in any colour from the pallete.

Anyway. We Brits now like such Black Line cars, because they’re seen as cool, modern and stylish. We didn’t think the same about Skoda back then, mind: it’s taken longer for the famously engineering-led brand to gain the reputation clever cars like the Favorit deserved from the start.

Blackline was a small start though. it was an early example of Skoda being a bit cool, and gamely helped the lead-up to the VW Polo-infused Felicia owners even today swear by.

So, on the eve of the UK rollout of perhaps the most gamechanging Skoda yet, the new Octavia, it’s pleasing to see a Blackline is once again available in the range. Yes, the current Octavia is on run-out and, once again deploying practice first used for the Favoirt, the excellent vRS model is available in Blackline guise.

It has alloys 5 inches larger than the old Felicia, standard sat nav, leather seats and DAB, plus a 2.0-littre TDI engine with a full 101hp more than the 67hp Favorit. Quite a bit more, in other words, but the principal is the same. And if everyone else is doing a Black Line series, why shouldn’t Skoda roll out one from the archives?

There is one difference from before, mind. You have a choice of three paint colours and, while one of them is still black, you can also get it in blue and white.

Given the vRS’ popularity with Police forces, a Blueline one might have been quite cool. But they may have had something to say about a Whiteline one…

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