Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
Since the 1950's Škoda had been making small but tangible inroads into the Australian marketplace, at first with the conventionally and very ungainly (and unattractive) Octavia and Felicia models.
But thankfully the 120L was an entirely different proposition, it being based on the old Renault R8/10 range - meaning that, if but nothing else, the Škoda would now be more reliable than its forebears.
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the importers of Škoda judged the cars on their ability to use up the entire import quota, and the 120L managed to meet to achieve this in quick time, so something must have been right!
The main selling point of the Škoda 120L was that, at the time, it was the cheapest passenger vehicle on the market. Anyone looking for high performance would obviously not bother with the underpowered Škoda, although the 120L was brisk enough to keep up with most city traffic conditions.
The 1.174 litre engine was good for an underwhelming 38 kW of power at 5000 rpm, with a matching torque figure of 85 Nm at 3000 rpm. The car could move from 0 to 60 km/h in 8.6 seconds, but then it would taper off toward the top end of its capability.
Another point of contention was the worn-and-nut steering
arrangement, most finding it vague and finding it difficult to keep the car moving in a straight line without continued steering
wheel correction, and the changes in direction brought about by the swing-axle rear suspension
certainly did little to help.
Braking was accomplished with 252mm discs up front, with 252mm drums at the rear, these proving more than ample to pull up the 875kg 120L, although a lot of brake pressure was required. Perhaps best of all for Škoda owners was the miserly fuel consumption, the 120L drinking only 7.3 litres per 100 kilometers, in combined city and country driving.
As well as the front side-opening boot, there was a second compartment behind the rear sseats, one or both of which could folded down in hatch-back fashion to increase the luggage area.
And the design of the new Škoda was also far more pleasing to the eye, it at least appearing as though it were a typical front engined rear wheel drive vehicle. Options offered on the Škoda for the Australian market included a cassette player and sun roof, while the fitment of halogen headlamps came as standard.
The Škoda 120L was never a car for the enthusiast, but it was cheap to buy and generally cheap to own and run, and it looked pleasant enough, particularly when compared to its forebears. The old fashioned mechanicals were offset by the exceptional fuel economy, and with it leading the way as the cheapest passenger car on the Australian market, it managed to find a home under many Aussie carports and garages.