Ever the ‘disrupter’, the Czech carmaking division of the immense Volkswagen Group has delved into British motorists’ sense of vacational adventure, highlights Iain Robertson, and concluded that we ought to pack our bags and drive into Europe.
Skoda has always been a reputable manufacturer, even in the pre-VW days, when its profits were provided to the Communist Party and its developmental funding was almost zero. It has worked tirelessly over the past three decades to turn around its fortunes and build its current reputation for integrity, ace build quality and tremendous reliability, even though consistent list pricing hikes make its products less of a bargain than they used to be. For each Skoda model there is an inevitable mirror product in VW’s line-up.
Whether it had an ear open for The Chancellor’s recent Budget, or not, its advantageous self-belief in its various models’ operational efficiencies suggests that the British wandering spirit should be encouraged not suppressed. To that end, the British importer has formulated an online ‘Travel Index’ on its website (skoda.co.uk) that targets thrill-seekers and culture-vultures alike. Simply ‘click’ on ‘The Skoda European Adventure Index’ (it’s free!) to select an ideal destination across any of three categories: Camping and Environment, Adventure and Road Safety.
Heading the Environment category is Italy, which scores highly for world heritage sites and low CO2 emissions. Italy tops the charts, when it comes to historical landmarks with no fewer than 58 UNESCO sites located around the country. Naturally, motorway access is excellent but cross-country motoring can add additional facets of interest, as well as providing a truer flavour of the nation. Interestingly, Germany and France complete the top three, with the former offering a number of must-visit sites including the wonderful gothic cathedral in Cologne. For drivers seeking to travel to a country with the least environmental impact, Denmark, which sits in fifth place in the Index, is considered to be one of the most environmentally friendly countries in Europe that also provides near unbeatable quality of life experiences. Although it does not appear in the ‘Top Ten’, I have a personal love of the Czech Republic, Skoda’s homeland, and recommend it in a heartbeat.
British drivers aiming for Italy can be enjoying la dolce vita within 10 hours of departing the Port of Calais, on a route that takes in both France and Switzerland. However, topping the Adventure category is Malta, a destination that offers everything from stunning scenery to ancient heritage sites and a plethora of water-based and other sporting endeavours. Cyprus, which is a longer trek, and Portugal complete the top three in the Adventure index.
Gothic Cathedral in Cologne
Taking data and review scores from TripAdvisor, Skoda found that Malta offers visitors a huge variety of adventure-based activities and, thanks to its relatively small size, they do not need to travel far to discover fresh activities. Malta also scores highest for extreme sports, with 28 activities per 620mls, the highest ratio in the Index. However, British drivers will need to pack plenty of snacks on board, as the journey to get there is an adventure in itself. To reach Malta from the UK, drivers have to travel the length of Italy before taking a ferry to Sicily and then a second ferry to Malta but it is well worth the effort.
In the Road Safety and camping section, Skoda’s researchers focused on EU countries that boast the safest roads and most campsites available to travellers. The data takes into consideration the number of campsites per 62,000mls, the number of driving incidents per 100k people and driving fatalities per million for each country. Denmark tops the charts with the safest driving routes and an ample choice of campsites. The Netherlands and Ireland round out the top three with the former offering some of the best camping opportunities in Europe and, should you venture across to the latter’s west coast, the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) is utterly spectacular to behold, with immense driving appeal. The so-called camping capital of Europe, The Netherlands, has an average of 75 sites per 62,000 square miles, including the top-rated Rijnsburg campsite at Vakantiepark Konigshof.
Galway Wild Atlantic Way
All three locations are among the easiest to reach for British drivers looking to spend a few nights under canvas. The Netherlands is readily accessible thanks to direct ferries from Newcastle, Harwich and Hull, while those taking either ferries, or the Eurotunnel from Dover and Folkestone can be in The Netherlands within an hour of disembarkation. By the same token, Northern Spain and the beautiful Basque country is reached readily from Portsmouth, or Southampton. using their overnight ferry services.
To help drivers make the most of their European road trips, Skoda offers a range of accessories that include a Travel Pack consisting of roof bars and a 380-litre roof box. It is available for all models in the Skoda range, with prices starting from £625.00 including VAT.
Conclusion: The Skoda Adventure Index was created using data from a range of sources, including UNESCO, TripAdvisor, EEA and EC Europa. After collecting the data, the metrics, such as air pollution, were categorised by Environment, Road Safety/Campsite Availability and Adventure criteria. The countries were then ranked based on a combination of metrics and the lower the ranking, the worse the country performed in that category.
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