How do you "augment" the value of a Skoda by 100 per cent? Fill the tank!
As Skodas are now generally excellent, multiple-award-winning cars with a fine reputation for value and reliability, nobody really makes jokes like that anymore. Which is a shame. In fact, so much has the Czech firm's stock risen that it's now using the kind of next-gen, tech-driven advertising gimmicks you'd more usually expect to see from Land Rover or Tesla. It's putting the "AR" in "CAR".
I headed down to London's Waterloo station to take a look at the latest in augmented reality, Skoda-related marketing tech. Built in collaboration with Skoda's ad agency MediaCom and outdoor advertising experts JC Decaux, the system comprises a Skoda Fabia car seat in front of a green screen, plus a brace of iPad Air tablets.
First, I chose the paint colour (silver grey to match my jumper), contrasting sunroof colour (and what do you call a Skoda with a sunroof? A skip!), and wheels, via the tablet's touchscreen – there's about 130 combinations on offer in total.
Sadly, the system doesn't offer other options, such as a heated rear window (which you might use to keep your hands warm when pushing your Skoda!).
Then I took my seat in front of the green screen. This is where the real magic happens. The Waterloo rail station concourse, where once Jason Bourne fought off assailants in The Bourne Supremacy, happens to house the widest advertising screen in all Europe.
Sitting on an actual seat from an actual Fabia, which had itself been augmented with vibrating force feedback, I watched in awe as I appeared on that very screen, and the panels of "my" new Fabia flew in to place around me. As they did, the seat shuddered so realistically that I almost cowered as the roof came down. Almost.
This particular Fabia is pretty techy. It's got MirrorLink, the smartphone connectivity platform that's likely to leave both CarPlay and Android Auto behind as it's platform agnostic; SmartGate, which sends car data from MPG to throttle position to your phone via Wi-Fi for viewing and analysis later; and no fewer than six airbags. SE models cost from £12,760 OTR.
The best news is, if you want to look as super-cool as I do here, there's still time. Head down to Waterloo between now and Friday 13 February.