Jatta Tjurin might be one of the most relaxed drivers in Dubai, as the flexible Finn mainly uses her 2005 Skoda Octavia Turbo mostly for travelling to and from her daily yoga classes. She clearly did her research before deciding on the Octavia. "I've had my car for over three years now and I am very happy with it. The decision to buy the Skoda was due to its high safety ratings, value for money and largely down to the fact it won Which? magazine's Car of the Year in 2004 and 2005," she says. "It is undoubtedly affordable, but has full features expected from any luxury car, such as leather interior, alloy wheels and six CD changer. I also liked the idea that Skoda is owned by Volkswagen, which also owns Audi. My car is the only model which has the Audi TT turbo engine with 175 hp."
Tjurin was born in Finland, but has lived in Australia, Canada and the UK previously, and has been in the UAE now for five years. The Skoda Octavia has been her car for the last three years. Working as an executive for a telecommunications company, Jatta depends upon the Octavia for the occasional weekend trip to more peaceful destinations, where she enjoys exploring, snorkelling and meditating. "It really is a comfortable ride, perfect for longer trips and has faithfully taken me to excursions to five Emirates and Musandam over the past three years with no problems," says Tjurin. "Even with these trips I've still only racked up 58,000 kilometres!"
"It's been an incredibly reliable car, with only one incident in three years - when the cooler broke down last summer. I was driving in fierce 50° Celsuis heat wondering why it was getting hotter and hotter - a very sweaty experience." Jatta is well aware of the jokes that surround the Skoda brand, such as "How do you make a policeman laugh? Tell him someone stole your Skoda". "I'm not sure quite why it gets such a bad reputation; perhaps it is snobbery as Skoda has always offered top Czech Republic engineering, but at a cheaper price," she says. "Most of my European friends usually don't think much of my Skoda until they come for a drive in it and see how safe and comfortable it is. I don't really care what people think as long as I know that I am driving a safe car in Dubai."
A deeply spiritual person, Jatta vehemently denies any energy-sapping emotional attachment to her vehicle. "I bought it at the Skoda garage in Dubai for Dhs65,000, which I still think was a bargain. Emotional attachment to anything material is a waste of one's precious energy and, even after owning the car for so long, I still feel the same," Tjurin says. "I'm certainly not trying to defend the car. Although I do think the Skoda jokes seem unfair when presented with the hard engineering and value facts. I certainly do not need anything material to outwardly reflect my personality. A person's true personality comes from within and it is really quite sad if someone buys a car in an attempt to convey their personality."
"If I was forced to choose a vehicle that most represented my personality, it would need to be a scooter, which to me defines being free and living life dangerously," she says. "In fact, I sometimes consider selling the Skoda and swapping it for a scooter ever since I spent two weeks in Purple Valley Yoga retreat in Goa this February." "I spent a lot of my holiday riding a scooter around Goa, which gave me an amazing sense of freedom."
But Jatta has reconsidered the idea of a scooter because of the UAE's summer heat and the road hazards. "Being a committed yoga junkie, I train with two excellent teachers six days a week, so if I didn't have my Skoda, I wouldn't be able to easily attend my classes," she says. " Maybe I'll have a long think about this before swapping my car for a scooter." Laughing, Jatta says, "Me riding a scooter on Emirates Road towards Arabian Ranches would be quite a funny, but not a safe, sight."
* Ian Hainey